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Lockport Chorale tuning up for its upcoming concert

Spiritual songs and other music often found in church hymnals will be among selections performed by the 40-member Lockport Chorale at its upcoming spring concert called "A Night of Musical Memories."

The community chorale is not affiliated with any specific church, but it frequently rehearses and performs in Western New York churches, and many of its singers also are members of their own church choirs.

With the spring concert less than a month away, the Christian Holy Week is no vacation week for the chorale. Members rehearsed Tuesday in Randall Memorial Baptist Church, 6301 Main St., Amherst, near the Erie Community College North Campus. They rehearsed the previous Tuesday in Lockport's Emmanuel United Methodist Church, 75 East Ave.

"We'll be singing 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot,' arranged by Jay Rouse and Camp Kirkland, and 'Ain'-A That Good News,' by William Levi Dawson, as performed by the Tuskegee Institute Choir" among other songs, Director Constance A. Allison said last week.

"Swing Low Sweet Chariot" is a historic African-American spiritual written sometime before 1862 and revived during the 1960s civil rights struggle, including a famous performance by Joan Baez during the 1969 festival at Woodstock.

"And we will sing 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic,' written around 1856 by William Steefe, another song that is in many hymn books," Allison added.

They will be interspersed among other American musical memories, including selections such as "Yankee Doodle Dandy," George M. Cohan's "You're a Grand Old Flag" and Irving Berlin's "There's No Business Like Show Business," written for the musical "Annie Get Your Gun."

Allison, who retired last year as a music teacher and choral leader at Lockport High School, said members of the Lockport Chorale come from all over Western New York, and their repertoire covers a broad range of music from classical sacred pieces to Broadway tunes, light jazz and American standards.

"We are a multi-generational choir with members spanning the generations from senior citizens to high school singers," the director said as the walls in the Emmanuel United Methodist Church music rehearsal room echoed to the four-part harmony of the singers and the piano accompaniment of Angela Sandy.

The chorale will be joined by the Lockport Community Band and the Williamsville Festival Chorus for their "Night of Musical Memories" beginning at 7 p.m. May 21 in the restored historic Palace Theatre, 2 East Ave. Admission is $10 for most adults, $9 for senior citizens and $5 for children.

The chorale has another concert scheduled for 7 p.m. June 3 in Amherst's Randall Memorial Baptist Church.

The chorale welcomes prospective new members of all ages to attend a forthcoming rehearsal. Most rehearsals are scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays in Emmanuel United Methodist Church. Previous choral experience is not required.

e-mail: rbaldwin@buffnews.com

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