Ocean Grove's 63rd Annual Choir Festival Coming Up This Weekend
One of Ocean Grove's most steadfast and beloved traditions, the Annual Choir Festival, now in its 63rd season, returns on Sunday July 9 at 7:00 p.m. in The Great Auditorium This year's theme is "In The Footsteps of Our Savior."
This spectacular choral event features dozens of choral organizations from the Eastern United States, forming a massed choir of 1,000 voices accompanied by the Great Auditorium Brass Ensemble and the Auditorium's magnificent Hope-Jones organ.
The Great Auditorium is located at Pilgrim and Ocean Pathways in Ocean Grove, NJ. All facilities are handicapped-accessible. A free will offering will be accepted.
The Choir Festival will be conducted by Ocean Grove's Director of Music Ministries, Dr. Jason C. Tramm, as well as Special Guest Conductors. Accompaniment will be provided by Organist-in-Residence Dr. Gordon Turk and the Great Auditorium Brass Ensemble. This year's guest conductors include Andrew Monath, Everett McCorvey, Dr. Deborah Simpkin-King, Dr. Thomas Juneau, Shea Velloso, Kevin Boesiger, and Dr. Cindy Bell.
The Combined choirs will perform anthems, hymns as well as works by classical and contemporary composers:
"Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent" - Gustav Holst
"There Shall Be A Star from Jacob Come Forth" - Felix Mendelssohn
"Silent Night" - Gruber/Arr. Mack Wilberg
"Salvation Is Created" - Tschenkoff/Norden
"Great Is Thy Faithfulness" - arr. ThomasJuneau
"When I Survey The Wondrous Cross" - Watts/Mason
"Beautiful Savior" - F.M., Christiansen
"In His Steps" - Kevin Boesinger
"Give Me Jesus" - L.L. Fleming
"Ride On King Jesus" - Boatner/Fountain
"Hymn of Resurrection" - Gwyneth Walker
The first choir festival in Ocean Grove was held in 1955. The concept of a large scale festival of Christian music evolved when Dr. and Mrs. Walter D. Eddowes recognized a need for an experience that would inspire choristers to attain higher goals in music for their churches. At that time, the Auditorium Choir secretary, Mrs. Anna Nichols, extended an invitation to vocal groups in Philadelphia and the Jersey Shore area. The first festival was a preaching service that included a hymn sermon, seven anthems, five conductors and nine choirs. About 200 singers augmented the Ocean Grove Auditorium Choir and the result was so thrilling that an annual event was established.
Through the years, many renowned composers of choral music have conducted their own works at Ocean Grove, performed by the huge festival choir. Among them are: John Ness Beck, Craig Courtney, Dr. Laurence Dilsner, Jester Hairston, Ross Hastings, Dr. Carl Mueller, Carl J. Nygard, Jr. and Clayton White.
Dr. Jason C. Tramm, now in his 11th season as Director of Music Ministries at the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, is recognized as one of the most dynamic young conductors on the podium today. He has been hailed by critics and audiences alike for his work in the operatic, symphonic, and sacred music realms. His 2008 NJN broadcast of Verdi's Requiem, shot in The Great Auditorium, was nominated for an Emmy Award. He has also appeared on two National Public Radio broadcasts with organ virtuoso Gordon Turk and a large orchestra. Dr. Tramm also serves as the Director of Choral Activities at Seton Hall University, where he director two choirs, conducts the University Orchestra, and teaches classes in conducting and music education. Frequently engaged as a guest conductor, Dr. Tramm has led operatic and symphonic performances in six countries and throughout the US. He also serves as Artistic Director of the MidAtlantic Opera Company, with which he made his Carnegie Hall debut last October. But sacred music has always held a special place in his heart, beginning as a boy soprano soloist at age six at St. Thomas Lutheran Church in West Nyack, NY.
A critically acclaimed concert organist who has a passion for communicating with his audiences, Dr. Gordon Turk has performed throughout the United States, Europe, Russia, the Ukraine, and Japan. His international tours have included recitals in concert halls, cathedrals, universities, and organ festivals. He has also performed as organ soloist with orchestras in the United States and Europe. He frequently collaborates with other musicians in concerts, including principal players of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and others. In addition, he has appeared in concert with American folk singers Peter, Paul and Mary at Philadelphia's Kimmel Center and at the historic Ocean Grove Auditorium.