15 choral artsAudience members may not recognize the Cumberland Choral Arts moniker just yet, but the voices will sound oh-so familiar when the group performs Friday, Feb. 28 at First Baptist Church. No stranger to the community, Cumberland Choral Arts was founded in 1991 as the Cumberland Oratorio Singers. The group performs a variety of pieces in the classical, opera, stage and screen music, jazz and other music genres.

“It is our first season as Cumberland Choral arts,” said Artistic Director Jason Britt. “People are starting to recognize the name, but we are still explaining it. We changed our name because it more accurately reflects who we are. We realize our listeners are not just people who strictly love classical music. We have audience members who like jazz and Broadway and contemporary music, and we strive to provide a variety of things for the interest of our audience. We are a community group. We do a variety of music, not just traditional choral music. If you come to ‘Welcome to London,’ you may hear something from the Beatles that night.”

 The concert will showcase three significant composers — Edward Elgar, Gustav Holst and John Rutter. “We are going to be highlighting some famous British composers,” said Britt. “Elgar and Holst are both considered nationalist composers who epitomize their country through their music. We are showcasing them as well as contemporary composer John Rutter. We will be showcasing his traditional  pieces and one that is more jazz-related.

Additional performances this season include a celebration of black history month Feb. 22 called “Lift Every Voice and Sing. “Local black musicians will perform that night at 7 p.m.,” said Britt. Patrons can pay at the door. It’s  $15 per person. Season ticket holders will get a discount. Proceeds benefit Cumberland Choral Arts.”

The final concert in the season brings audiences full circle with “America, My Home.” It is set for May 8. The concert focuses on a few little-known composers, including some from North Carolina. The works of  Joseph Martin, Dan Forrest, Daniel Elder and Stephen Paulus are all on the docket as attendees are treated to more subtle and subdued harmonic structures, combined with flowing, sing-able melodies. Some of the works to be performed that night include “Good Night Dear Heart,” “Song for the Unsung Hero,” “Hymn for America” and Elder’s song cycle “Three Nocturnes.”

Inspired by the joy of singing and hearing choral music, the group’s mission is “to be a premier symphonic chorus through the outstanding performance of choral masterworks. With a commitment to excellence and education for over 25 years, we work collaboratively with all singers to foster a vibrant, diverse, and interactive choral community, educate our singers and audiences, and extend our reach to the youth of Cumberland County and the Sandhills region.”

Find out more about Cumberland Choral Arts at https://cumberlandchoralarts.org/ or by calling 910-215-7046. Tickets are available on the Cumberland Choral arts website.