For 27 years this season, the Cumberland Oratorio Singers have been performing traditional choral music throughout the Sandhills – and not without getting the community’s attention. The group was inducted into the Fayetteville Music Hall of Fame for 25 years of service under the leadership of Michael Martin, and has recently established a new youth choir, the Campbellton Youth Chorus. To celebrate the group’s achievements, COS will kick off its 27th season with some unexpected sounds. “A Night of Jazz” is set for Friday, Oct. 19, at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church at 7:30 p.m.
For “A Night of Jazz,” the Singers will collaborate with the Fayetteville Technical Community College Choir to perform classic jazz hits from the ’30s and ’40s. According to COS Choral Director Jason Britt, “COS alone is great, but when you add more people to it, it can become really great.”
Moreover, the collaboration is an attempt to unify Cumberland County and broaden COS’ audience. “By reaching out to the community, with more people, we can do bigger and better things,” said Britt.
The COS plan to team up with a jazz combo band and are set to perform pieces such as “I’ve Got a Crush on You,” “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square,” “You Make Me Feel So Young,” “The Way You Look Tonight” and “I Got Rhythm,” among others.
For most of the group’s existence, the COS has performed captivating traditional pieces that its audience has grown to expect and love. The ensemble’s director, however, is excited to introduce new styles into the group’s repertoire.
“My emphasis on this season is to try to relate to the people a little better by performing music that might be recognizable to our audience members,” said Britt. “For the last 26 years, the Cumberland Oratorio Singers have had a reputation of preserving traditional choral music, and I realized that not everybody is a fan of that.”
While Britt and many of the members of the ensemble, not to mention its audience, cherish the more traditional works, the group is ready to adopt some new sounds. “A Night of Jazz” is the COS’ first step to achieving this goal.
Jazz isn’t the only genre to expect from the Singers’ upcoming season. “I included one night of just traditional music (in this season),” Britt said. “I really didn’t want to alienate our base – some members really expect traditional choral works, and we love performing them.”
This year’s COS season includes “A Night of Screen and Stage,” which will include popular hits from famous movies; “Messiah Sings!” a Christmas cantata featuring Handel’s beloved “Messiah;” and “A Night with the Masters,” which features traditional choral pieces by artists such as Mozart and Schubert.
“We really wanted a variety of things,” Britt summarized. “It’s very refreshing not to do the same thing every time; you have a variety of elements that make things interesting.”
Tickets for the Oct. 19 season opener, “A Night of Jazz,” can be purchased for $15 at the door. Students with ID can purchase tickets for $5. Holy Trinity Episcopal Church is located at 1601 Raeford Rd.
Season tickets are $45. Learn more at www.singwithcos.org.