We’re capturing our sound for our website! 21st Century Chorale undertook a recording session in September at Greater Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church on Chicago’s south side. Made available by our board member and soprano, Karen Barbee-Dixon, who serves as assistant conductor of the GBMBC choir, it was a very special venue for our group, and we are grateful to Pastor David W. Watkins, III, Karen, church members and staff for their warm welcome.
Founded in 1882 by 31 charter members, Greater Bethesda’s congregation grew enormously in the early 20th century as a result of the Great Migration. To meet its rapidly expanding needs, in 1925 the congregation purchased the Alfred Altschuler-designed home of B’nai Sholom Temple Israel, where the congregation continues to worship today. In an interesting connection, Altschuler was also the architect of the main sanctuary at KAM Isaiah Israel Congregation in Hyde Park where the 21st Century Chorale performed in June.
Greater Bethesda has a formidable reputation for its music. The Sanctuary Choir is anchored by the historic Moeller pipe organ, and for 50 remarkable years, its choirs performed Handel’s Messiah in collaboration with well-known soloists and instrumentalists. Currently, the Bethesdan Choir is captivating audiences with its extensive repertoire of spirituals, and contemporary and traditional gospel music. Each year, they welcome members from different faith traditions to sing in their annual production of Glenn Edward Burleigh’s Christmas cantata, Born to Die. And they make their sanctuary, with its extraordinary acoustics, available for community performances by local and national artists, as well as college, university and faith-based choirs.
As they say at Greater Bethesda, they appreciate music as the universal language of the soul and as an instrument of transformation. 21st Century Chorale couldn't agree more! Watch for links on our website to pieces recorded at Greater Bethesda!