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For the Washington Performing Arts Society’s opening season celebration, voices and instruments commemorated several anniversaries in one evening. To mark the rich 200 year history of Harlem’s historic Abyssinian Baptist Church, the famous jazz trumpeter and musical statesman Wynton Marsalis was commissioned in 2008 to compose a special work to commemorate the occasion.

The result was “Abyssinian: Gospel Celebration” which received its Washington premiere at the Kennedy Center on Sunday night. Though the title may lead the listener to believe they are in store for a gospel performance, what is really offered is a historic snapshot of what occurs musically in the African American Church.

Howard University music alumnus Damien Sneed conducted the performance with his choir Chorale Le Chateau accompanied by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with the work’s composer on trumpet and as bandleader.

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