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Georgia Symphony Orchestra and Chorus performs at Monastery

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Special Photo ---- Michael Alexander is the musical director of the Georgia Symphony Orchestra.

The historic Monastery of the Holy Spirit will host the Georgia Symphony Orchestra and Chorus for the group's first-ever concert at the monastery in Conyers on May 5. It will be an evening of sacred classical music as the performance coincides with the church's celebration of the Feast of the Ascension.

Founded in 1951, the GSO is comprised of professional musicians from across the region who come together to share their musical gifts with audiences throughout the state. The GSO began in the music room in the home of Arthur F. Moor on Church Street in Marietta. It became the Marietta Concert Orchestra, and then transformed into the Marietta Symphony, the Cobb Symphony and finally the Georgia Symphony Orchestra.

"Bryan Black is in charge of the singing and Michael Alexander is the director," said the monastery's Bro. Callistus Crichlow of the GSO's leadership. "Bryan Black we knew for a long time. He used to be with another chorus. He's now in charge of this chorus and it's very prestigious. We have a history with him and we collaborated to have them come out here and perform for the first time. We are so looking forward to it. It's going to be great."

The GSO and Chorus will bring more than a dozen musicians and a chorus of 60 singers for the concert, which begins at 3:30 that Sunday afternoon in the Gothic Abbey Church. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for youth, and children 12 and younger are admitted free of charge.

"We are very much looking forward to being at the monastery," Alexander said, adding this will be his first visit to the historic site. "It's a great way for us to connect with all different types of communities and to celebrate music in a religious historic place."

Volunteer singers come from across the state to perform orchestral works with the GSO and present independent concerts.

"We worked collaboratively to pick the music with Bryan Black, our chorus director," Alexander said. "...We chose the works of two really great composers, Bach and Vaughan Williams. We're really excited to be in Rockdale."

The GSO will present its program at the monastery featuring works by J.S. Bach and Ralph Vaughan Williams. Bach's Cantata No. 11, is sometimes known as the Ascension Oratorio. The church celebrates the Feast of the Ascension 40 days after Easter, which commemorates Christ's ascension into heaven.

Cantata No. 11 was composed in 1735 for the service for Ascension. The oratorio spans 11 movements with a performance time of about 30 minutes. It is performed in two parts; 1-6 before the sermon and 7-11 after the sermon.

The work is scored for four soloists: soprano, alto, tenor and bass. It has a four-part choir, three trumpets, timpani, two flauto traverso, two oboes, two violins, viola and basso continuo.

Ralph Vaughan Williams' "The Five Mystical Songs" is a composition written between 1906 and 1911. The work sets four poems -- Easter divided into two parts -- by George Herbert from his 1633 collection "The Temple: Sacred Poems." The four songs are personal meditations in which the soloist takes a key role. The songs are "Love Bade Me Welcome," "O Sacrum Convivium," "The Call" and "Antiphon."

For more information or to order tickets, visit the monastery's website at www.trappist.net.