RICHMOND — American Youth Harp Ensemble and Richmond area choirs will join forces next month to present “Amani Peace Concert,” an African music collaboration benefiting the Grace Baptist Institute in Liberia.
The performance takes place on Sunday, May 4, at 2:30 p.m. at Grace Baptist Church, located at 4200 Dover Rd. in Richmond. Last year, Grace Church developed a relationship with Grace Baptist Church in Monrovia, Liberia, and the church's K-9 school, Grace Baptist Institute.
“The relationship began when one of our members, Dr. Deborah Carlton Loftis, professor of music and worship at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, visited the church and school during a sabbatical,” said Wanda Sauley Fennell, minister of music at Grace. “Since then we have funded numerous scholarships and sent a large amount of school supplies to the Institute. Their pastor was with us in worship on Easter 2007, and we even have a family in our church who come from the church in Monrovia.”
The Amani Peace Concert, imagined and organized by Lynnelle Ediger-Kordzaia, artistic director of the American Youth Harp Ensemble, lends the talents of the AYHE and four supporting choirs to this effort. The AYHE hopes to raise over $10,000 for the Liberian school and its students. The AYHE, which includes 50 students ranging in age from 5 to 18, utilizes the harp as a catalyst for personal growth and community service.
For the event, the American Youth Harp Ensemble will collaborate with over 80 singers from the Richmond Montessori School Honors Choir, the Richmond Symphony Orchestra Chorus, the Baptist Theological Seminary Choir and the Grace Baptist Church Choir to team up with the Harp Ensemble and native African drummer Nana Frimpong for a two-hour extravaganza of harp, percussion and voice. During the lively performance of traditional African works, the moving underlying story of Liberia and, specifically, Grace Baptist Institute is narrated by Broadway/Hollywood celebrity Jasmine Guy. The concert also presents the world premiere of a newly commissioned African-style work, “African Reflections,” composed by Monika Stadler for the American Youth Harp Ensemble.
All proceeds of the concert will be donated to the Grace Baptist Institute.
“Four of our members, including our pastor, Rev. Dr. Betty Pugh, and Dr. Loftis will travel to Liberia in June to deliver money and work in a variety of ways with our sister congregation,” said Fennell.
Tickets, which are $20 for adults and $10 for students and seniors, can be purchased in advance at Coppola's Deli and at Plan 9 (both in Richmond's Carytown) and, up to a week prior to the concert, by calling (804) 837-9355 or visiting online at www.harpensemble.org.