Demopolis Singers prep for concert

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 1, 2008

DEMOPOLIS &8212; Powered by the volunteer voices of 28 individuals, the Demopolis Singers are hard at work preparing for their next big performance: their spring concert May 4-5.

According to Director Cloyde Williams, who also directs the First Presbyterian Church Choir, the show will be just the opposite of their Christmas performance, which usually contains musical selections that are religious in nature.

The spring show, which will be held at the Demopolis High School auditorium, will consist of two parts. The selections range from old favorites such as &8216;Down by the Riverside&8217; to new selections, including an original piece written by member Ed Rush.

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When asked what the overall theme for the show will be, Williams said it would simply be a light spring variety show.

The group started rehearsing for its May performances in February. Meeting every Monday night in their rehearsal room at the Old School, they spend 90 minutes learning and polishing each selection. The Singers draw from members of area church choirs and people that simply love to make music.

Williams, a graduate of Julliard and Columbia University, is choosing to start the concert with a medley of songs from &8216;Phantom of the Opera.&8217; Spirituals, folk tunes, patriotic tunes and songs that were popular decades ago complete the program.

One of the sacred songs is &8216;Endless Praises to Our King,&8217; is the new composition by Rush, music director for First Baptist Church and a published songwriter. He uses traditional Jewish musical arrangements in the presentation of the song.

Williams was principal clarinetist for the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra for 31 years. He will play his instrument to accompany Rush&8217;s composition along with Linda Barnes, organist/pianist for the First United Methodist Church.

Williams&8217; clarinet will join with Rush&8217;s trombone to provide the musical backdrop to yet another spiritual.

Before moving to Demopolis almost two decades ago, Williams served as adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota. His career also included working with Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Rush, a native of Pell City, first studied at Jacksonville State to become a band director. He earned his degree in music from Samford and went on to get a master&8217;s degree in Church Music from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. His long career has taken him to churches throughout Alabama.

Barnes began her career at the early age of four, when she began to play music by ear. She has served as accompanist for the Alabama Symphony Orchestra as well as several churches and youth groups.

Show times for the spring concert will be at 2:30 p.m. on May 4 and 7:30 p.m. on May 5. There is no admission cost, but donations are welcome.

Jan McDonald contributed to this report.