For one night only, supporters can attend the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and IN Unison Chorus’ annual “A Gospel Christmas” concert and hear the vocal stylings of Oleta Adams. The performance will be Thursday, Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m. at Powell Hall.
Composed of local community members, many of which belong to churches across the city, IN Unison Chorus, conducted under the leadership of Kevin McBeth, continues its seasonal tradition of more than 20 years. This year is extra special as it returns after pausing from last year’s coronavirus pandemic quarantine.
According to McBeth, this will be Adams’ third time performing with the orchestra. She did “A Gospel Christmas” performance in the past and most recently performed for a Black History Month concert in February. He said she’s a fan-favorite of the company and audience members.
“We couldn’t think of anybody better to have this restart of joining us for gospel Christmas,” he said.
Adams, the chorus, and the orchestra will perform various songs within the realm of traditional gospel and traditional Christmas music, including “Holy Is The Lamb,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “Christmas Time Is Here,” and more.
She said the music won’t sound like you’re inside a church, but it will be good music for everybody. She also said the music will put people in the holiday spirit.
“It helps us recall the time of innocence before we had to worry about tax payments, pandemics, and so forth,” she said. “It's about family getting together and caring about others. It's recalling fun times we’ve had, the things that made us smile when we didn’t have to put up shields to protect ourselves. Instead, we let our hair down and enjoyed the moment.”
In addition to the show, McBeth said SLSO’s hall is wonderfully decorated for everyone to come and take pictures around their big beautiful Christmas tree.
“We’ve worked hard, especially this year, to put the Christmas in Gospel Christmas,” he said. “It'll be a warm and fuzzy evening that I think will touch people’s hearts, and they’ll really enjoy.”
Adams said attending the show is a great opportunity to introduce youth to instruments they normally wouldn’t get to listen to. She recalls how the music made her feel when she was younger and went to shows.
“I still remember being in junior high when they used to have these concerts and the orchestra would play ‘Peter and the Rabbit’ or some sort of orchestral piece,” she said. “I could listen to all the sounds of the different instruments, and I just became so enamored with all of the music in the classical form. That can grow some wonderful musicians who probably may be at the moment don’t know how far they wanna go in it but perhaps something that we do that night can really inspire young people.”
McBeth strongly encourages people to hear Adams sing if they haven’t, as she’s what he calls “the voice of our generation.”
“It's a distinct voice, and it's beautiful to watch her sing because she typically sings from the piano,” she said. “In addition to being an amazing singer and arranger, when she sits at the piano we have an amazing time. It's something to be experienced. I'm hoping that we sell the place out.”
Guests must be fully vaccinated or have a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the concert date or a negative antigen test within 24 hours of the show.
Tickets can be purchased at https://www.slso.org/.