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Jazz, spirituals on tap for free concert at First Presbyterian

Jazz, spirituals on tap for free concert at First Presbyterian

Covington musicians, from left, soprano Janet Carmichael, euphonium player Robert Sewell and organist and accompanist Alice Walker will team up for a free concert at First Presbyterian Church in Covington at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. (Special Photo)

Covington musicians, from left, soprano Janet Carmichael, euphonium player Robert Sewell and organist and accompanist Alice Walker will team up for a free concert at First Presbyterian Church in Covington at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. (Special Photo)

The First Presbyterian Church of Covington is almost a community concert hall unto itself. Always hosting guest singers and musicians, the church has become a hub for musical life in Newton County.

This week, First Presbyterian will offer a special concert free to the public as it presents “A Musical Spring Into Summer” on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.

Featuring soprano Janet Carmichael, Robert Sewell on the euphonium and Alice Walker as accompanist, the concert will include music from jazz and spirituals to classical and sacred. The hour-long concert will be held in the church sanctuary at 1169 Clark Street in Covington.

“They are both part of the very successful musical team of First Presbyterian,” Walker said of Carmichael and Sewell. Walker, who is church organist, also directs the church Ambassador and Handbell choirs as well as planning for such events as the concert on Sunday.

“They are excellent musicians and it has been wonderful to work with them,” Walker said. “We have planned this for months. It’s going to wow the audience because they are both extremely talented … They are both great performers and it’s going to be a knock out.”

As a first soprano, Carmichael has toured Germany, the Czech Republic and Italy with the DeKalb Choral Guild. Some of her earlier performances were with the Woodside Choir under the direction of Billy Pilgrim in her native British Guyana in South America.

Carmichael has also performed with the Madrigal Chorus at the Northern School of Music in Manchester England, which is now the Royal Manchester of College and Music. It was there where she studied voice. She also studied voice at the University of Maryland.

Her performances have included solo and choral repertoire with several church and community choirs, most recently First Presbyterian of Covington’s Ambassador Choir and the Covington-Conyers Choral Guild.

During Carmichael’s stay in England, she studied speech and received certificates and medals from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. An English major, she taught in the schools there and is now a teacher for a private school in Atlanta.

Sewell, who also teaches for a private school, has performed with the Atlanta Philharmonic Orchestra, Conyers Community Orchestra, The News Team Performance Orchestra, Georgia Perimeter College Wind Ensemble and the Florida A&M University Wind Ensemble. He has been accompanied by the Florida Intercollegiate All-State Band and the Florida State College Wind Ensemble as the winner of student solo competitions.

As a guest artist, he has performed with such organizations as The Body and Soul Tuba Quartet and the University of North Florida’s Wind Ensemble at Carnegie Hall.

Sewell served as principal/solo euphonium section leader and parliamentarian for the Florida A&M University’s Marching 100, symphonic band, jazz band, brass ensemble and wind ensemble. As a freshman, he earned the distinction as a member of the Marching 100 Virtuoso Band, which was comprised from the top 50 musicians from the 400-member group.

The Marching 100 Virtuoso Band performed across the country and was the flagship promotional band for the university. Sewell’s final performance with The 100 was in his hometown of Jacksonville, Fla., for Super Bowl XXXIX.

A graduate of Agnes Scott College, Walker holds both the colleague and associate certifications from the American Guild of Organists (AGO). She has served on the executive board of the Atlanta chapter of AGO and this year taught a class on transposition for potential candidates for AGO Guild exam certification.

Also this year, she has completed continuing education classes at Columbia Theological Seminary, the University of Georgia and Oxford College of Emory University.

In addition to her work with the music program at First Presbyterian Covington, Walker is moderator of the Presbyterian Women, serves on the worship committee and directs the prayer ministry. She has also served as a member of the Music and Worship Committee of the Greater Atlanta Presbytery. Walker is a certified lay speaker and a lifetime member of Gideons International Auxiliary.

Listed on the Georgia Council for the Arts and the Southern Arts Federation touring artists roster, Walker has been a featured soloist for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and performed with the Covington-Conyers Choral Guild at Clayton State University and at Rockdale Auditorium. She has also been in concert at The Cathedral Basilica in St. Augustine, Fla., and at Callanwolde in Atlanta.

Walker and her identical twin sister Becky Ramsey play annually as duo pianists for Salem Camp Meeting.

Beth Slaughter Sexton is a freelance writer based in Gwinnett County. Contact her at bethslaughtersexton@gmail.com.