28th Anniversary Master Season
“The William Baker Festival Singers is one of the very best choral ensembles of any size or genre in the southeastern United States and beyond“. Ellen Dressler Moryl, Director, Piccolo Spoleto Festival
The Atlanta ensemble of the William Baker Festival Singers was created in 1985 by William O. Baker and Janis M. Lane under the name Gwinnett Festival Singers. Now in its 28th season, the Festival Singers has reached its highest level of musical accomplishment and community service.
Between 1985 and 1998, the Festival Singers under the direction of Baker and Lane conducted tours across the Southeastern United States and throughout Great Britain, produced numerous recordings and were heard on local television programs across the South and in radio programs across the nation. Venues included such prestigious stages as Spivey Hall in Atlanta, Divinity Chapel in Birmingham, and the Cathedrals at Chester, Birmingham and Canterbury in England.
After performing at the Bristol Festival in England, and the DeKalb International Choral Festival in Atlanta, the Festival Singers was first chosen in 1989 to perform at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston. The result has been two decades of concerts before capacity festival audiences, and glowing reviews in newspapers across the South. Following the 2008 performance, Ellen Dressler Moryl, head of the Piccolo Spoleto Festival and Director of the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs, said, “The William Baker Festival Singers is one of the very finest choral ensembles of any size or genre in the Southeastern United States and beyond…”
The Festival Singers have always been known for their performances of short form a cappella classics and spirituals, but in recent years they have added an impressive list of works for chorus and chamber orchestra, including Kodaly: Laudes Organi performed for the 2008 Guild Service of the American Guild of Organists, Britten: Rejoice in the Lamb, Durufle Requiem, Stravinsky Symphony of Psalms, Bernstein Chichester Psalms, and an Atlanta performance of the Immortal Sacred Services by Ernest Bloch.
Every February, the William Baker Festival Singers hosts The Black History Month Festival Concert, joined by university choruses, church choirs, and school ensembles in this signature event. The concert celebrates spirituals, gospel songs, and works by African-American composers.
The Festival Singers look forward to returning to Charleston on Memorial Day 2013 where they have performed to capacity audiences at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival since 1989.
The visibility of the William Baker Festival Singers continues to grow through larger audiences and through feature appearances on numerous television programs, including WXIA’s Atlanta and Company, WAGA’s Good Day Atlanta, and on WGCL’s CBS46 News. The accomplishments of the Festival Singers have been recognized in proclamations by two Georgia governors Joe Frank Harris and Sonny Perdue and United States Congressman Phil Gingrey.
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