Cantabile welcomes the acclaimed André Thomas this March

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Cantabile presents The Drinking Gourd, an evening of spirituals, Afro-American music and more. For this special presentation, Cantabile’s adult and teen choirs will be led by one of the most dynamic conductors on the world stage today, Dr. André Thomas. A brilliant composer, arranger and one of the leading authorities on Afro-American music.

The American folksong Follow the Drinking Gourd, first published in 1928, was used by an Underground Railroad operative to encode escape instructions and a map. These directions then enabled fleeing slaves to make their way north to freedom. Taken at face value, the “drinking gourd”   refers to the hollowed out gourd used as a water dipper, but here it was used as a code name for the Big Dipper star formation.

The program is a remarkable blend of music spanning decades and continents, including several arrangements and compositions by André Thomas. Cantabile’s Youth Singers will perform stirring arrangements of traditional and newer works such asDo, Lord, Remember Me’, ‘I Dream a World’, and ‘Stand Tall, O Man’.  The adult choirs will perform the beautiful ‘O Danny Boy’ and contemporary works such as Eriks Eśenwald’s gorgeous ‘Stars’ and ‘Ner, Ner’, a rhythmic and driving piece by Jake Runestad.

The evening will come to a rousing end, as the choirs combine and surround the audience to perform Dr. Thomas’s ‘Gloria’, a most moving end to an extraordinary night of choral artistry.

André J. Thomas is Director of Choral Activities and Professor of Choral Music Education at The Florida State University. A previous faculty member at the University of Texas, Austin, Dr. Thomas received his degrees from Friends University (B.A.), Northwestern University (M. M.), and the University of Illinois (D.M.A). He is in demand as a choral adjudicator, clinician, and director of Honor/All-State Choirs throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, New Zealand, and Australia.

Dr. Thomas has conducted choirs at the state, division, and national conventions of the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) and American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). His international conducting credits are extensive. They include conductor/clinician for the International Federation of Choral Musicians, summer residency of the World Youth Choir in the Republic of China and the Philippines, winter residency of the World Youth Choir in Europe, and a premier performance by an American choir (The Florida State University Singers) in Vietnam. He has been the guest conductor of such distinguished orchestras and choirs as the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in England, and guest Conductor for the Berlin Radio Choir in Germany. Since 1988 he has also served as Artistic Director of the Tallahassee Community Chorus.
Thomas has also distinguished himself as a composer/arranger. Hinshaw Music Company, Mark Foster Music Company, Fitzsimmon Music Company, Lawson Gould, Earthsongs, and Heritage Music Company publish his compositions and arrangements. Dr. Thomas has produced two instructional videos “What They See Is What You Get” on choral conducting, with Rodney Eichenberger, and “Body, Mind, Spirit, Voice” on adolescent voices, with Anton Armstrong. He is a past president of the Florida ACDA, and the past president of the Southern Division of ACDA.

Thomas is the most recent recipient of the prestigious Robert Shaw Choral Award, given to a choral leader who has been significant and unusual contributions to the art of choral music. Cantabile and its audiences are very fortunate to have the opportunity to see this charismatic, dynamic and skilled artist at work.

The Drinking Gourd
Saturday March 4, 7:30 pm

Tickets: $22 / $20 / $12  Available at  cantabilechoirs.ca, The Church Bookroom (new popup store at 306 Bagot St) and
Long & McQuade.

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