Joseph Jennings conducts local composer Armbrusts work

Published 5:07 pm Friday, December 3, 2010

Acclaimed conductor Joseph Jennings, music director emeritus of the Grammy-winning ensemble Chanticleer, conducted the east coast premiere of Dr. Crys Armbrusts male chorus arrangement of Squire Parsons popular gospel tune Beulahland. The performance, at historic St. Johns Methodist Church in Augusta, GA, occurred on Sunday, Nov. 21 at 3 p.m., and marked the inaugural performance of the newly formed Augusta Mens Chorus, a 40-voice auditioned ensemble.

Jennings program included a range of choral selections, including works by Bruckner, Schubert and Debussy, as well as Lee Hoiby, John Tavener and John Leavitt. Part of St. Johns Concerts with a Cause series (now in its eighth season), Sundays concert garnered funds for the local service organization The Masters Table. The heavily subscribed Concerts with a Cause series to date has raised more than $87,000 for local and regional charities.

Armbrusts arrangement of Beulahland was written in Tryon, following a hearing of the tune at one of the Trade Street Gallery Coffeehouses monthly Pickin Parlors. After requesting copyright permission from Squire Parsons to arrange the melody, Armbrust submitted his arrangement in 2008 to Jennings, who premiered the work in San Francisco later that year.

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Commenting on the Augusta Mens Chorus performance, Armbrust said, both Jennings interpretation of the score and his chorus execution of it exceeded my broadest expectations. I cant imagine that the piece could ever be better performed; it was a magical, over-the-top moment. The concert was recorded for later use.