COSIn 1991, music lovers around the world commemorated the 200th anniversary of Mozart’s death. In Fayetteville, Alan Porter gathered a group of community members to perform Mozart’s Requiem. 

“It remains as ‘the’ moment that began this organization,” said Cumberland Oratorio Singers Director Michael Martin. To celebrate the organization’s 25th anniversary, Alan Porter returns to conduct a portion of the season’s first concert, which is set for Oct. 29, at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. The COS is also inviting past members for recognition at the event as well.

In a nod to the group’s history, this first concert features a performance of “Requiem”, along with another collaboration with the Methodist University Chorale. “Alan was the original director of the COS,” said Martin. “He was the face of choral music in Fayetteville from his hiring in the earliest days of Methodist (College) University in the early 1960s until ending his time in Fayetteville choral music in 2008. He has also been a big supporter of mine and a person I am grateful to call my friend. For well over 40 years, he forged many relationships with people all for the sake of music and singing. It is no wonder that he still lives in the hearts of many people here in Fayetteville and all the students that passed through Methodist’s doors.”

For Martin, it is only natural to recognize Porter’s efforts, even if it means breaking a few rules. “I am breaking concert protocol to make sure that Alan gets the opportunity to conduct the “Requiem”. Generally, large multi-movement pieces are conceived to have no applause between the movements, primarily because they are all part of the same work,” said Martin. “However, this time, I intend to stop the “Requiem” before we perform “Lacrimosa”, have Alan conduct this one part, and take his community bow at that point. For a man who has done so much for so many, this is something I am excited to assure for him.”

There are three other performances this season. December 17 at 7:30 p.m., St. Ann Catholic Church hosts the annual “Messiah Sing,” which is a free concert. This is what the COS calls its “gift to the community.” The concert includes Lord of the Rings soloist Kaitlyn Lusk and Joshua Conyers of Piedmont Opera. March 24, at 7:30 p.m., at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church is a concert called “The Student and the Teacher,” featuring the music of Benjamin Britten and Ralph Vaughn Williams. Britten was a student at the Royal College of Music while Vaughn Williams was a teacher there. The last concert of the year is called “The Trumpets Shall Sound,” and features choral music accompanied by brass, percussion and organ. This concert is on May 19 at 7:30 p.m., at Haymount United Methodist Church.

While COS is about music, it is also about community. In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, the board decided to donate $5 from every ticket sold to Second Harvest Food Bank to support their efforts with hurricane relief. The concert is at 7:30 p.m. at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. For more information, visit: www.singwithcos.org.

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