Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
00000176-de2c-dce8-adff-feeff0f80000For years public radio has been home for diverse music in America. We all have that one song, one band, one moment that transports us to another time or place. Public radio has always taken creative risks by giving voice to new and emerging artists. And it has long been the champion of America's cultural heritage - Jazz.The BlueNotes blog is the place for you to rekindle your passion for music. Jazz, blues, AAA, folk,'s all here at Syracuse Public Media WAER.

Symphoria Musicians Flex Their Talents with Gospel Show Saturday with Area Singers

You might have enjoyed Symphoria concerts when the orchestra took on movie soundtracks or Broadway hits.  Saturday night the musicians turn their talents toward gospel music and they’ll be collaborating with local gospel singers in a special live virtual event, Gospel Meets Symphony.

This is a special Sparks Series concert, conducted by Principal Pops Conductor Sean O’Loughlin, who helped put the virtual event together.

“When we were originally conceiving of this concept, we had in mind a full gospel choir accompanying us and sharing the stage.  So, we had to pivot as things were changing, almost on a daily basis.  So my recommendation was let’s at least get four singers to create that, soprano, alto, tenor, bass, which is the original voicing for a full choir.  So at least we’ll get the traditional gospel harmonies."

Gospel Meets Symphony Sat. Apr 17 @ 7:00pm (live-streamed)

And to find those, Symphoria turned to WAER’s own Queen of Gospel Cora Thomas.  That allowed the orchestra to connect on a deeper level with the community.

Conductor, composer and arranger Sean O'Loughlin will lead the orchestra

  “It came out of the desire to have more community involvement and to broaden our reach in the area.  There’s just such a healthy gospel community here in Central New York.”

The program of some traditional gospel favorites and some newer numbers will include local musicians, Zasha Moore, Alza Johnson, Corey Hudson, Fred Hintz, and special performance by Joan Hillsman’s Music Network.

O’Loughlin says the musicians in the orchestra are excited to take on the challenge, jut like other crossover, fusion musical events.

“Pairing with the symphony, Broadway s a popular vehicle, movie themes (also).  Gospel really shows the chameleon-like quality of the symphony players.  One of the things of a true professional is to play in many different styles.”

He gives praise the orchestra’s front office for keeping the musicians busy during the pandemic, when music has had to be virtual.

“I have to give credit to all the folks at Symphoria who have really taken the bull by the horns and not sat on the sidelines.  They’ve really found ways to keep connected to our audience and be able to continue to provide live experiences.  There’s many orchestras and many bands who are creating a lot of pre-recorded content.”

O’Loughlin says their fingers and toes are crossed to be able to play their fall season in front of audiences.  Summer might also present opportunities for in-person concerts at outdoor venues, even before all gathering restrictions are lifted.

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.