The McDonough Choral Society will be joined by a chamber ensemble in a world premiere performance on Monday, April 16.
The composition Songs of Freedom, Hope, and Destiny was commissioned by the choral group to celebrate its 10th anniversary. Western Illinois University School of Music professor Randall Faust spent three years writing the piece.
The work combines original music with text taken from 19th Century Illinois literature, including words penned by poet John Howard Bryant and President Abraham Lincoln.
“It has this wonderful line, 'Now the day dawns upon our eastern shore, Soon shall the night of prejudice be o'er, In giving freedom to the slave we give freedom to the free, We shall not escape history,'” Faust said.
The composition also features lines from Lincoln's second inaugural address.
Choral society members are looking forward to the challenge of performing Songs of Freedom, Hope, and Destiny.
“It's not like a professional orchestra where you have several rehearsals with the orchestra. We have this one rehearsal together (on April 9). Then we perform next week, so everything has to fit the way it's gonna fit,” said Larry Rawlins, who has been with the choral society since its inception.
Fellow choral society member Larry Jarvis, who's been with the group for three years, added, “To be able to practice and sing an original piece, that's something that's pretty special.”
The conductor for the performance is Susan Shoemaker, who founded the choral society with her late husband John. While the chamber ensemble musicians were hired and will be paid for the performance, Shoemaker and other members of the McDonough Choral Society are not paid - all their rehearsing and performing over the years has been done on their own time. Shoemaker said this shows how passionate they are about music.
“If you've never sung, it's hard to understand,” said Shoemaker.
“But if you have sung, you do understand because music gets inside of you.”
Songs of Freedom, Hope, and Destiny will be performed Monday, April 16 at 7:30 pm at Wesley United Methodist Church in Macomb. There is no cost to attend, though free will donations will be accepted.