Juneteenth (or Freedom Day) will be celebrated in its truest sense at St. James’s Episcopal Church on June 19th at 5 pm. This event features a spectacular Freedom Day Concert performed by renowned organist Dr. Carl Haywood, playing masterpieces by Bach, Reger and Langlais, as well as spirituals arranged for organ by Nathaniel Dett, Adolphus Hailstork, Undine Moore and Dr. Haywood.
In addition, The Celebration Ensemble, made up of alumnae of Norfolk State University and St. James’s Choir, will be singing spirituals, including “Great Day,” “Didn’t my Lord deliver Daniel” and “Rise, shine for the light is a’coming,” concluding with Dr. Haywood’s magnificent “Improvisation on “We Shall Overcome.” And it’s all followed by a reception in Valentine Hall.
This free event begins at 5 pm. There is lots of free parking.
Dr. Mark Whitmire, St. James’s Director of Music commented, “We all know the quote, ‘Where words fail, music speaks.’ So true. The music of our Juneteenth Celebration will say plenty about the cause of racial equality and justice. I think we can all agree that 400 years of words haven’t accomplished enough, as we gather a block from Monument Avenue, which
until recently, displayed Confederate statues. Juneteenth is a message beyond music.”
St. James’s is blessed by a magnificent pipe organ, a CB Fisk, Opus 112, which is among the finest organs in the nation. This June, the Anglican Association of Musicians’ National Conference will be in Richmond for lectures, meetings, and concerts, beginning with the Juneteenth Celebration.
For the past 17 years, St. James’s has hosted a service of music in collaboration with Dr. Haywood and the Norfolk State Choir with readings in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King. In recent years, this tradition has been suspended due to Covid-19.
“St. James’s Church is delighted to share its gifts, including our impressive music program, to inspire unity and deepen our faith as Christians, not only with our lips but in our lives,” said The Reverend Dr. John McCard, rector.