Special Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith. Covington Conyers Choral Guild Director Roger Waters, with tenor soloist Todd Terrell in the background, conducts the chorus in preparation for the group's spring concerts on May 19 and 20.
When members of the Covington Conyers Choral Guild present their spring concert, they'll be doing more than simply providing an evening of entertaining music. They'll also be using the opportunity as a dry run for their performance on the shores of Normandy, France on July 4.
The concert, "A Salute to America: Celebrating the Choral Art, Patriotism and Freedom," set for 8 p.m. May 19 at First Baptist Church of Covington and May 20 at the Rockdale Auditorium, features music that the chorus will sing at several venues during a nine-day performance tour in France and England this summer.
It's the first time abroad for the chorus, and 48 of the 80 members of the group will make the journey.
Choral Conductor and Director Roger Waters said being chosen by Harmony International to perform in Europe is an honor, and an opportunity that has been two years in the making.
"It sounds like I'm boasting and I'm not. We do have a reputation for being a fine choral organization and our reputation precedes us," Waters said of the group, which has been in existence for 27 years.
The group will sing patriotic tunes including "The National Anthem," "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," "I'm Thankful to be an American," "I'm Proud to be an American," "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," "America the Beautiful" and "A Prayer for America."
Active members of the armed forces and veterans are encouraged to attend the concert and display their military branches. The Conyers Covington Choral Guild will recognize each branch of the military with its service anthem.
Waters said the group intends to perform the patriotic half of the show at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, which honors American soldiers who died in WWII.
The other half of the "A Salute to America" features songs more spiritual and cultural in nature, compositions the group intends to perform in cathedrals in Paris and London. Selections include "Cantique de Jean Racine," a French choral work written in the 1870s; "Hallelujah" from Beethoven's oratorio, "Mount of Olives"; "The Best of Rooms," by Randall Thompson; Mozart's "Ave verum"; and choral selections from the musical "Oliver."
Another noteworthy aspect of the local performances, Waters said, is that the Covington Conyers Community Orchestra, conducted by Arlene Woods, will accompany the chorus.
"This is the first time we've had the community orchestra come and join us," Waters said.