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Greenbrier Valley Chorale presents “Songs in the Key of Spring!”

Greenbrier Valley Chorale returns to Carnegie Hall in Lewisburg (Greenbrier County) for its annual spring concert on Sunday, May 1, at 3 p.m. 

The program, entitled Songs in the Key of Spring, has given the singers a chance to revisit a number of pieces they had rehearsed for their spring concert two years ago before the Covid 19 pandemic forced them to cancel at the last minute. The repertoire is varied, featuring expressions of love, joy and hope explored in a variety of styles ranging from Broadway hits to tango rhythms.

Broadway is represented by When the Parade Passes By from Hello Dolly, a tribute to composer Jerry Herman, who passed away in 2019. Soloist Ginny Hinkle will lead the parade in a rousing arrangement that reveals Herman’s gift for layering choral accompaniment to build excitement.

Another Broadway favorite, Who Will Buy from Oliver! will feature solo turns by several members of the chorale. The singers will pay tribute to the legendary Stephen Sondheim, who died last fall, with The Ballad of Sweeney Todd from his musical tale of the demon barber of Fleet Street.

A guest soloist will be featured in Craig Hella Johnson’s a cappella setting of Dolly Parton’s Light of a Clear Blue Morning. The piece is infused with light and hopefulness as it opens with a solo soprano and gradually builds to a joyful overflowing of sound and vocal texture, then gently relaxes into a reflective conclusion.

Particularly relevant for our troubled times are John Rutter’s prayer for freedom, Distant Land, and Elaine Hagenberg’s version of the Shaker hymn I Will Be a Child of Peace.

The sultry flavors of the tango and a tantalizing Spanish text infuse Noche de Lluvia by Sid Ronovitch. Rounding out the program are Down to the River to Pray, in an arrangement that recalls the haunting version featured in O Brother Where Art Thou, and René Claussen’s gorgeous setting of the Robert Burns poem O My Luve’s Like a Red, Red Rose. During their long pandemic hiatus, the singers joined together to record a virtual performance of the Burns poem that can be found on the chorale website.

The Greenbrier Valley Chorale is comprised of singers from across the Greenbrier Valley and beyond. It is directed by Barbara Wygal Lutz and accompanied by Teresa Bryant. Guest instrumentalists will join the singers for some pieces.

Tickets can be purchased in advance online on the chorale’s website or in-person from Carnegie Hall, 611 Church Street, Lewisburg, (304) 645-7917. Tickets also will be available at the door on the day of the concert. Carnegie Hall is handicapped accessible. For more information, visit greenbriervalleychorale.org.

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