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Afro-American Music, Gospels & Spirituals

The project choir „Voices for Peace“ will concentrate its work on a 4-day gospel workshop. The gospel - from English: good spell, good news – is the Christian Afro-American style that developed out of negro spirituals and elements of blues and jazz at the beginning of the 20th century.  In the English language „gospel music“ originally means in its broadest sense the development of Christian music on the American continent, starting with the gospel songs of the 19th century and leading up to Christian pop music, but mainly the sacred music of the Afro-American communities.

The vivid rhythms also inspire a lot of singers on our continent. But it is rare indeed that one has the chance of practicing known and new gospels in an authentic way with a really famous choral director.

Prof. Dr. Raymond Wise, Director of the African American Arts Institute, is one of the most famous teachers and gospel experts who is in demand throughout the world. As the son of a Baptist family, the song as a form of religious expression has always played a big role in his life from his earliest childhood. Over 600 compositions are just one result of this enthusiasm.

The choir rehearsals take place in the afternoon from Saturday, May 14th, to Tuesday, May 17th.

Information about the Project Choir:

This interactive workshop entitled “Praise The Lord all Ye People” will focus on both learning and performing in the Afro-American gospel style.  Participants will learn how to create the gospel sound, implement stylistic vocal techniques and perform authentically.  By the end of the workshop sessions, every participant will be singing, rocking and clapping in the gospel style.  This workshop is designed to appeal to singers of all ages and backgrounds who enjoy singing and want to learn gospel rhythms.  No prior experience with Afro-American music is necessary.

Workshop content:

The workshop will start by reviewing the definition and history of gospel music to show the connection to and distinction between gospel music past and present.

Under the direction of Dr. Raymond Wise, all participants will form a gospel choir, learn several different gospel songs and learn to apply the 5 S’s of gospel music (Sound, Style, Sorrow, Spirit and Spontaneity). As participants learn about each technique they will apply the various performance practices and vocal techniques in order to transform the songs they learn into authentic gospel performances.  Methods will be presented for singing authentically in the gospel style, while maintaining good vocal health. After learning and polishing the song, singers will learn and apply the non-music performance practices such as rocking, clapping, movement, repetition and improvisation, singing with spirit, etc. Various gospel conducting techniques will be explored and applied.  The group will present a culminating performance applying all of the techniques to the songs they have learned.  At the end of the sessions participants can ask questions related to gospel music performance and resources/repertoire can be suggested for their future performance of gospel music.


Artistic director

Prof. Dr. Raymond Wise

Raymond Wise, Ph. D., a native of Baltimore, Md., began his musical career at the age of three, singing gospel music with his family singing group "The Wise Singers".  Dr. Wise attended Denison University (Granville, Ohio) where he earned a B.F.A. in Music.  He did additional studies in Opera, Art, and German at the Institute for European Studies in Vienna, Austria, and in African-American History, Music, and Dance at San Francisco State University in San Francisco, California.  He completed an apprenticeship in the business and recording of Gospel Music with the Walter Hawkins Corporation in Oakland, California. Dr. Wise earned a Masters in Music Education, Ohio Teacher's Certification and Doctorate in Music Education from The Ohio State University for which his dissertation topic was "Defining African American Gospel Music by Tracing its Historical and Musical Development from 1900 to 2000."

Dr. Wise is an ordained minister and has served as a church musician for more than 30 years.  He has appeared on radio and television, recorded 22 albums, performed with opera singers, orchestras, dance companies, professional recording groups. He has toured extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia and regularly serves as a singer, pianist, composer, conductor, lecturer, choreographer and teacher for orchestras, opera companies, and choral festivals.  Dr. Wise recently performed at Carnegie Hall where he debuted one of his many compositions.  Wise has penned more than 600 compositions. His Anthology of 21 Spirituals for the 21st Century has received national and international acclaim.  More than 200 of his compositions are available through the Raymond Wise Choral music series. 

Dr. Wise served as the Co-Director and Director of the Hampton University Minister's Conference Choir Directors’ and Organists’ Guild.  He also served as the Co-Director of the Hampton Minister's Conference Academy that provides intensive training in African American sacred music for college students preparing for service as church music ministers.  His knowledge of both the gospel and classical music genre has enabled him to serve as a consultant and clinician in academic and gospel music settings.  Wise is known for helping choirs to perform gospel music authentically.  Dr. Wise currently serves as the Ethnic and American music Repertoire and Standards Chair for the American Choral Director’s Association Central Division.

Rev. Wise is founder and President of Raise Productions (1985), a gospel music production company in Columbus, Ohio.  Raise established “The Center for the Gospel Arts” in 1989 to provide educational training for gospel artists and the community. Raise is currently partnering with various seminaries and colleges throughout Ohio and the United States to develop gospel arts certificate programs.  Wise has served as the artistic director of Raise Productions Choir since 1986.

Dr. Wise has served on the faculties of The Ohio State University, Denison University and Trinity Lutheran Seminary.  Dr. Wise currently serves on the faculty of Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.  He serves as Professor of Practice in the African American Diaspora Studies department and instructs courses in African American music.  He serves as the Associate Director of the African American Arts Institute, a division at IU devoted to the perpetuation and performance of African American music and art.  Dr. Wise conducts the African American Choral Ensemble


Main choir

The „Maulbronner Kammerchor“ was founded in 1983 by Prof. Jürgen Budday, who has conducted the choir from the very beginning. Every year since 1997 the choir has performed an oratorio from Georg Friedrich Händel in its original historical performance style. All these oratorios have also appeared on CD. For this reason, the Maulbronner Kammerchor plays a leading role in the recordings of Händel oratorios. They have also recorded a large number of a capella CDs and TV broadcasts. The choir has also been invited in recent years to perform a number of world premieres.

In the Federal Republic of Germany, the choir has also been invited to take part in the chamber music series of the Dresdner Philharmonic, the cathedral concerts in Königslutter, the European Music Festival in Passau, the Music Festival in Stuttgart, the Festival of European Sacred Music in Schwäbisch Gmünd, the International Forum for Choir Directors in Limburg and several times at the Rheinland-Pfalz Culture Summer. In addition, the choir can be heard regularly in the most important churches in the south of Germany, for example the Stiftskirche Stuttgart, the Bamberger Dom or the Ulmer Münster. They have also made a lot of journeys to different European countries, to the USA and four times to Argentina/Uruguay/Brazil. It was a special honour for the choir to be invited to the Zimirya in Israel as the official representative of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1992. In the summer of 2015 they made one more journey to South America with concerts in Chile and a participation in the choir festival in San Juan, Argentina.

There is a very special relation between the singers and Marktoberdorf. In 2009 they reached 2nd place at the International Chamber Choir Competition and also won a special prize. In the spring of 2015 the choir celebrated together with the Calmus Ensemble Leipzig the 25th anniversary of the festivals in Marktoberdorf, where Jürgen Budday took over as Artistic Director since June 2013.

For the project choir „Voices for Peace“ members of the Maulbronner Kammerchor will function as the core choir, which will be completed by you, the other singers taking part.