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Hymn of praise centerpiece of Choral Guild spring concert

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Roger Waters conducts the Covington/Conyers Choral Guild during a rehearsal at the Rockdale Auditorium.

Celebrating its 28th season of bringing choral performances to the world, the Covington/Conyers Choral Guild warmed up for its annual spring concerts by performing in a new venue.

The 80-voice ensemble performed its spring show, "The Music Is Always With You," on Saturday at the prestigious Spivey Hall on the Clayton State University campus and will entertain audiences in Covington on Thursday and in Olde Town Conyers on Friday.

Roger Waters, who has served as conductor and musical director for the CCCG since 1984, said the group will eschew its usual summer tour so members can "recover financially" from last year's eight-day trip to England and France.

"It was an absolutely fantastic tour, but this spring we decided to give everybody a financial break," quipped Waters. "Our first performance was on the shores of the American cemetery at Normandy, France, and we gave a full concert there and then we sang at some of the more prestigious cathedrals in London, Canterbury and in Paris. It was very, very good."

The ensemble's spring performance will, as always, showcase a variety of musical styles.

"I try to program pieces that will have some appeal to everybody in the community," Waters said. "We live in a very diverse community and we're trying to reach every segment."

The centerpiece of this season's concert is "Te Deum," a hymn of praise arranged by modern Christian composer Mark Hayes. Waters said the composition features the organ, so he's invited twins Becky Ramsey and Alice Walker -- who are synonymous with keyboard excellence in the east metro area -- to join the choir at both local performances.

"The piece is based on the Apostles Creed, with a portion in Latin and a musical portion transcribed in English," Waters said. "We will hear the Latin text and then we'll sing the English translations of the text."

Also on the 12-selection program will be three pieces from Randall Thompson's "Frostiana," a work that features Robert Frost poems set to music. The pieces include "A Girl's Garden," "The Pasture" and "The Road Not Taken." The choir will also perform the African-American spiritual "Go Down Moses" and the Broadway staple "Walking Up The Stairs," from the 1972 musical "Purlie."

Waters said he's pleased with the number of singers in the choir, but he'd love to hear more male voices.

"We've got about 55 women and 25 men," said Waters, who added that there's one charter member, Teresa Daniel, remaining in the group. "We've got more participation now than we had a year ago, but at one point -- 10, 12 years ago -- we had as many as 102 voices. We're in need of men to come and sing and play and perform with us."

Covington and Conyers performances signal the end of the 2011-12 performance year, but the CCCG will sing locally one more time before the year ends, at Christmastime. Waters said that even with his many years of involvement with the group, he's still enthusiastic about the direction of the ensemble.

"Our future is brighter now that it's ever been," he said. "We've got great plans for the future, we're planning another international tour soon and we're going to New York City to perform in St. John's Cathedral in 2013. We've got some wonderful things planned for national and international tours, as well as concerts here in our community."

If you go

What: Covington/Conyers Choral Guild Spring Concerts

When: Thursday, May 10 at 8 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Covington, 1139 Usher Street in Covington, and Friday, May 11 at 8 p.m. at the Rockdale Auditorium, 903 South Main St. in Olde Town Conyers

Cost:Tickets are $10 and are available at the door, or from any Choral Guild member, or online at www.choralguild.org.