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Choir to perform with symphony

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.
By Joanie Morris
For the Salisbury Post
SALISBURY — As the Salisbury Ecumenical Choir sings these lyrics on Saturday, community members should be aware of what the choir is about. Every day and every performance, the Ecumenical Choir lives those words. It’s only fitting they sing them during Pops at the Post.
After all, said Dr. Phillip Burgess, “ecumenical” simply means crossing all congregational, denominational, racial, age and gender barriers to bring a community together.
As director of the Ecumenical Choir for 10 years, Burgess is pleased to be the first-ever choir to sing with the Salisbury Symphony during the Pops at the Post. In addition to “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” the choir will sing “Go Light Your World” to open the second half of the concert.
“We do events such as this to highlight race relations in our community,” said Burgess. He feels that the choir has achieved something in the 10 years it’s been around. It is completely non-denominational and has members of every race in the community represented.
Burgess has been so successful in his efforts that he has won a humanitarian award at the Elizabeth Duncan Koontz Humanitarian Banquet. Pops at the Post will be the largest audience for the Ecumenical Choir to date, and Burgess hopes this performance will attract more members to join from throughout the community and Rowan County.
He also praises Salisbury Mayor Susan Kluttz for both the idea for the choir and the continued support of the city.
“I don’t think it would have gone on as long as it has if it wasn’t for her efforts with race relations,” said Burgess.
Kluttz disagrees. The Ecumenical Choir will perform after a medley of symphonic dances from “West Side Story” and Kluttz said that in itself is significant.
“The theme of ‘West Side Story’ was the conflict of different cultures and the story itself was a conflict of two different races and cultures and the tragedy that ensued,” said Kluttz. “I think that in the musical itself, all of the different types of music are brought together. I think this is what Dr. Burgess has done with this choir. He has brought these different races and religions together to appreciate each other. I think it is tremendously significant.”
Kluttz said the choir has been a huge step in the city and improving race relations with people who have never even met each other.
“It was a way to bring people of different races together for a common project — music,” said Kluttz. For the concert on Saturday, “I think it is as much symbolically a reminder to us that we are a city of different races and cultures, and that is something that we need to always be conscious of and work towards.”
David Hagy, maestro of the Salisbury Symphony, said he chose the Ecumenical Choir primarily because they had asked last year, but it was too late. This year, he also chose them for a second reason.
“As a first choir, having a choir that is very purposefully representing as many of our different sections of our community as possible, was exactly the way we wanted this done,” said Hagy. “The Pops at the Post is a unified community event. It draws far and away more county people that would not normally go to a concert and we’re delighted by that.”
Hagy said in the future, Pops organizers are open to considering other choirs, and in fact, other choirs have now made offers to perform with the Symphony.
“I’m always open to it growing and evolving,” Hagy said.
Joanie Morris is a freelance writer. She can be reached at 704-797-4248 or news@salisburypost.com.

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