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St. Louis Symphony’s IN UNISON Chorus celebrates 20th anniversary in Ferguson

Dilip Vishwanat

The St. Louis Symphony’s IN UNISON Chorus will perform its annual community concert Sunday, April 26 at Greater Grace Church in Ferguson.

Founded 20 years ago under the leadership of Robert Ray, the chorus became a permanent staple with the symphony after a single performance. Directed by Kevin McBeth, the chorus consists of participants from around 40 churches and features music that reflects African and African American culture.

When IN UNISON was founded, the St. Louis Symphony Chorus had already earned a nationwide reputation

“We think the St. Louis Symphony organization is unique in being one of the only orchestras that supports two choruses,” McBeth said.

IN UNISON manager Susan Patterson says the advisory board chose to have the concert in Ferguson after the recent events surrounding the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

“The IN UNISON Chorus specializes in repertoire that reflects the African and African-American community, and they do so very authentically,” Patterson said. “It is a wonderful sound that they create that is unique to them.”

Rollo Dilworth, a professor of music at Temple University and an original member of the IN UNISON Chorus, will serve as guest conductor of this year’s community concert.

The theme of the concert, Dilworth says, will be centered on hope and better times ahead for the St. Louis region. The program will include eight pieces composed by Dilworth with an opening anthem entitled “Justice.”

Dilworth explained that the program is not serving as a political message, but as a cultural example of the relationship between African-Americans and the church.

“In the African-American community in particular, people come to churches in the community to gather for hope and inspiration all the time,” Dilworth said. “We hope that this music will support that.”

Related event

St. Louis Symphony's IN UNISON Chorus Community Concert

  • When: Sunday, April 26, 2015 7:00 p.m.
  • Where: Greater Grace Church, 3690 Pershall Rd. in Ferguson
  • More information

“Cityscape” is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and sponsored in part by the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis.