Bluffton Packet

Harmony reigns in Bluffton

For the first time in its 35-year history, the Hilton Head Choral Society is venturing off the island to perform a community concert with three local church choirs, youth choristers and a select group of local singers.

The third annual Festival Invitational Concert is being presented at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 22 at St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church in Bluffton. Titled "Songs of Faith and Inspiration," the program will include music from classical radio, American musical theater, traditional church hymnbooks and the pop charts.

"It's all feel-good music," said Choral Society artistic director Tim Reynolds, who is leading the 90-singer ensemble. "Whatever your troubles, you can come to this concert and walk away feeling a little more hopeful."

The combined choir will include members of the Choral Society's Full Chorus, St. Andrew-by-the-Sea United Methodist Church, St. Gregory's adult Chorale and the Bluffton United Methodist Church Chancel Choir, along with several individual singers from Hilton Head Island and Bluffton.

Accompanied by piano, organ and various other instruments, the group will open the concert with a church choir standard, the upbeat anthem "With a Voice of Singing," followed by the American folk hymn, "Amazing Grace."

The religious-themed repertoire also will include "African Psalm," a Kenyan folk song featuring conga drums, and two Bach classics -- "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" and "Ave Maria."

Members of Bluffton United Methodist's Cherub Choir, St. Gregory's children's Jubilate chorus and the Choral Society's Youth Choir will join the adults on stage to sing "Sweet Chariot."

"It's a little different from the traditional hymn you hear in church," said Linda Burkett, music associate at St. Gregory's. "This version has a lot of energy."

The concert will take a turn to the contemporary with "Thank You for the Music" from the musical "Mamma Mia!," the British tune, "You Are the New Day," "You'll Never Walk Alone" from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "Carousel" and "You Raise Me Up," made famous by singer Josh Groban.

Closing the concert is "Do You Hear the People Sing" from "Les Miserables."

"To perform with such a large group is an exhilarating experience," said Bluffton United Methodist director of music Ella W. Davis, who participated in last year's Festival Invitational concert. "And the repertoire is fun to sing. We don't get the opportunity to do a lot of Broadway as a church choir."