Wynton’s Blog

Last night was the first performance of our three week US tour performing the Abyssinian Mass

Last night was the first performance of our three week US tour performing the Abyssinian Mass. We are definitely prepared. The 70 strong Chorale Le Chateau has been rehearsing for months and was in great form. Damien Sneed, our conductor, brought an energy, passion and an innovative way of improvising with every nuance of the vocal score that left even us grizzled veterans mesmerized.
Each day one of our members will give a short synopsis of their experience on this tour. We will hear today from the speaker of 4 languages, Mr. Walter Blanding:

Our tour started off with a 10 hour bus ride, which is not for the faint of heart. But, as always, when we got on that stage last night, it became very clear exactly why we do what we do. Every time the orchestra performs, we go for broke, no kidding, and no exceptions. But there was something about last night which was most definitely special and worth sharing.
Any time we do collaborations which integrate other styles of music or forms of art, something magical and unexpected always happens. I believe it’s the meeting of love, respect and improvisation that creates a recipe for something unique and divine. Last night when vocalist, Nicole Phifer, sang the movement, Prayer, I (and everyone else in the room) could feel her energy, her pain, and her commitment to strive. The passionate intensity of her sound hit me in the pit of my stomach.
I live for moments like this. This will be a great tour. I’m looking forward to seeing what tonight will bring.

Carolina Performing Arts, on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill, is a long-time and valued partner of Jazz at Lincoln Center, having presented the JLCO every time the band has toured the South over the last decade.
They have done an incredible job of activating the academic and university community with pre-concert lectures featuring Dr. Genna Rae McNeil (UNC Department of History) who has an upcoming book about the history of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, Dr. Eboni Marshall Turman (Duke University Divinity School) who recently served as an assistant minister at the Abyssinian Baptist Church and Anthony Kelly (Duke University Professor of Music), who will be discussing the creation of the “sacred jazz monument” in large-scale religious works by Wynton. They are extremely appreciative that this program has provided the opportunity to build relationships with community stakeholders that they couldn’t have connected with otherwise. Members of the White Rock Baptist Church Gospel Choir will be singing on the steps of Memorial Hall prior to the show tonight.


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