The Central State University Chorus in performance

Last week a beloved relative died, and I needed consolation. When I learned that a visiting university choir would be performing at Stockton, I decided it might be what I needed. I’m so glad I followed up on that impulse!

“Central State University” was confusingly generic, so I had to go on line to find out where it is located. The answer is Wilberforce, Ohio. It’s a Land Grant institution with about 2000 students.

The chorus was small, energetic and very highly trained. I’ve done enough choral singing to know that the human voice is a tricky instrument, and blending 25+ voices is a major undertaking. Director Jeremy Scott Winston is to be commended for his leadership. The CSU Chorus is wonderful! They are also wide ranging, singing in every style I can think of except maybe rap-grunge-metal.

The concert began with a processional. Being surrounded by music is so glorious! The Chorus entered with the hymn “Lift Every Voice and Sing”. A U-Tube post describes it as “the all time most inspirational anthem of faith and hope”. Yes.

More than half the work performed was familiar to me. I was delighted to hear selections from the Mendelssohn oratorio “Elijah”. “He watching over Israel” is a complex choral piece. “If, with all your hearts, ye truly seek him” was performed solo. It is such a beautiful melody.

I wish I had been able to keep track of the names of soloists, which were unfortunately not identified in the program. They were extremely talented.

Other high points were “Let There Be Peace on Earth”, “Impossible Dream” from the musical Man of La Mancha (aka Don Quixote) and “There is a Balm in Gilead”.

The only thing wrong with this event is that it wasn’t a sell out. Publicity had been spotty.

I got what I wanted from my evening with the Central State University Chorus – entertainment and distraction, yes, and also beauty and excitement and live exposure to an art form I particularly treasure, choral music. Thank you, Ohio guests, for the gift of your wonderful performance!

“God respects you when you work, but LOVES you when you sing!” Author unknown.

PS (June 21, 2020) – I believe Central State is a Historically Black institution. “Lift Every Voice and Sing” is known as the Black national anthem.


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