Lakeside Civic Chorus Marks 30th Anniversary with Spring Concert

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Area choirs join together to perform "Gospel Mass".

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A 30th anniversary deserves a big voice, and we have a concert that represents the vision of the Lakeside Civic Chorus – community, musicology, education, and performance.

Choirs from Rockwall, Heath, Royce City, and Huntsville will join together to celebrate the 30th season of Lakeside Civic Chorus, with featured performances of Dr. Robert Ray’s Gospel Mass, on Saturday, May 17th and Sunday, May 18th. Performances are free and open to the public on Saturday, May 17th at 7 p.m., at First United Methodist Church of Heath, located at 140 Smirl in Heath; and on Sunday, May 18th at 4 p.m. at Our Savior Lutheran Church, located at 3003 Horizon in Rockwall.

“A 30th anniversary deserves a big voice, and we have a concert that represents the vision of the Lakeside Civic Chorus – community, musicology, education, and performance,” says director Isiak Holiday, Jr. In addition to the combined choirs performing the "Gospel Mass," each of the two concerts will feature a different roster of guest performances. Performing the "Gospel Mass" will be Lakeside Civic Chorus, two Royce City High School Choirs, and choirs from First United Methodist Church of Heath, and First Christian Church of Huntsville, accompanied at the piano by Bianca Sherman. “It is a challenge to combine multiple choirs to perform a work when each learns the music and practices separately,” says Holiday. The choirs may practice separately, but the connecting link is Holiday, who directs the Lakeside Civic Chorus, the Royce City High School Choirs, and is music director at First Methodist Church of Heath. And he has worked with the Huntsville chorus, under the direction of Carol Carden, to integrate all the choirs seamlessly into a larger group. Additional performances by guest choirs will round out the program.

The featured work, "Gospel Mass," was composed in 1978 by Dr. Robert Ray, internationally acclaimed composer and Professor of Music at The University of Missouri, St. Louis, and continues to be performed by choirs, large and small, around the world. The Mass is Ray’s interpretation of two thousand years of liturgical tradition with the more contemporary music of the African-American church. Ray describes it as “my desire to combine centuries of old traditions of Mass settings with sounds of the contemporary Black Church. The move from Latin to English created new opportunities for composers to express their feelings about the texts of the Ordinary of the Mass. I wanted everyone to experience the sense of joy and celebration that is generally felt in true African-American worship."

According to Holiday, the piece’s rhythm and syncopation has provided a rich learning experience in multi-cultural expression for the participating choirs, blending gospel and jazz. It is a bitter sweet moment for Holiday, who has announced that, due to other commitments, this will be his final concert as director with the Lakeside Civic Chorus. Chorus president, Dee Ann Ginn, says that Isiak has been challenged the chorus, both musically and in community outreach. “Isiak has been the driving force to reach out to other choirs to join our performances and has led the choir in providing more performances throughout the year for special city events and celebrations.”

Additional information about the concert and participating choirs can be found at and on Facebook. Established in 1984, Lakeside Civic Chorus is a non-profit organization comprised of members from the Lake Ray Hubbard area who love to sing. Membership is open to all, regardless of musical training or experience. In addition to underwriting expenses, the chorus funds music scholarships for students from local high schools.

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