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Churchs chancel choir to perform jolly good show
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If anglophiles among us still are feeling a bit British-y after the big nuptials, they can end their weekend with a final bit of culture from the Isles.

The First Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir assembles at 3 p.m. Sunday for a spring concert at 800 S. Enota Drive, Gainesville. The concert is free and open to the public.

On a weekend when the world is focused on the royal wedding, the choir has prepared an all-British program by four of that country's outstanding composers of sacred choral music.

And it's not the first time such an event coincided with the group's performance. In 1997, the Chancel Choir was preparing the Faure Requiem to be sung in Atlanta with the choir of Peachtree Christian Church and instrumentalists, some from the Atlanta Symphony. On the last day of August, Princess Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris.

Peachtree Christian Church is near Pershing Point, a monument where thousands of Atlantans left candles, flowers and other symbols of respect for the princess. By the time of the choir's performance, the concert had been billed as "Atlanta's Official Concert in Memory of Princess Diana."

"Once again, I suppose we must either chalk this coincidence up to just luck, or the preferred Presbyterian view of providence," said Michael Henry, the choir's director. "It wouldn't seem so unusual had not this same group of singers been down a similar path before."

Sunday's music was composed entirely by Englishmen and includes two movements of the "Mass for Four Voices" by William Byrd; an anthem by Samuel Sebastian Wesley; and two 20th century works, "Rejoice in the Lamb" by Benjamin Britten and the "Five Mystical Songs" of Ralph Vaughan Williams, the latter marking its centennial year.

Four singers from the choir — Michelle Martin, Mary Katherine Schaap, Margaret Schaap and Richard Halliley — will perform solos.

They will be joined by featured guest soloist, baritone Brent Davis, an accomplished performer of opera, art song and oratorio. He has appeared with many regional opera companies throughout the Southeast, including Atlanta, Asheville and Mobile.

Beth Hunter will serve as organist and Henry will direct the free concert, which is open to the public.


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