Brandon Waddles, conductor
The Westminster Jubilee Singers is a very intimate ensemble composed of students who are selected by audition. It is modeled after the historically acclaimed Fisk Jubilee Singers, and its repertoire, while specialized and select, is very diverse and focuses on solo and ensemble artistic expressions from its singers. Part of the college’s sacred music department, the ensemble performs literature that includes African-American spirituals and folk songs; classical music by African-American composers; African chants and dances; gospel music and secular songs by musical greats such as William Dawson, Duke Ellington, Patti LaBelle, Walter Hawkins, Quincy Jones, Andre Crouch, Richard Smallwood, Kirk Franklin, Dr. Nathan Carter, as well as Westminster graduates, Rosephanye Powell, Donald Dillard and Roger Holland. Also explored and performed are works by non-African-American composers, including George Gershwin, Alice Parker, Robert Shaw, Robert Page, Gail Poch, Steve Pilkington and others who have composed and/or arranged music of the African-American experience.
In addition to its rich repertoire of African-American spirituals, hymn arrangements and gospel songs, the Westminster Jubilee Singers have performed classical works, such as And They Lynched Him On a Tree by William Grant Still, and Shout for Joy and I Will Lift Up My Eyes by Adolphus Hailstork. Highlights of recent seasons include the performance of two Hannibal Lokumbe works with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra: African Portraits, conducted by André Raphael Smith, and the world premiere of God, Mississippi, and a Man Called Evers, conducted by Leslie Dunner.
Previous seasons have included appearances at the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) in Kansas City, Kan., and Regional Conference in Baltimore, Md.; the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Eastern Regional Convention in Boston, Mass.; a performance with Denyce Graves at New York’s Apollo Theater to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Children’s Defense Fund; a joint concert entitled Living the Dream with Penn State University’s Essence of Joy ensemble as a tribute to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and its Lincoln Center debut performing in An Evening of Choral Artistry presented by the American Choral Directors Association. The ensemble has performed at Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops Orchestra, under the baton of Skitch Henderson, in a concert version of Porgy and Bess. At the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, it has presented joint concerts with the Fisk University Jubilee Singers and the legendary Sweet Honey in the Rock.