Successful Sacred Music Festival Brings Harmony and Inspiration to Excelsior Springs

Marvin Byas, IV conducts the Marvin Byas Singers during the Sacred Heart Festival.

On Saturday evening of September 17, 2023, the First United Methodist Church of Excelsior Springs played host to a mesmerizing Sacred Music Festival that captured the hearts of approximately 35 attendees. The event featured a remarkable fusion of classical compositions, operatic solos, and spoken word performances, leaving the audience profoundly moved.

Opening the event, Pastor Shannon Greene set the stage for an evening of spiritually powerful music, stating, “Sacred music has a unique ability to uplift and inspire, transcending barriers and connecting people through its melodic and heartfelt expression of spirituality. The Sacred Music Festival aims to provide a platform for musicians and singers to come together, learn, and perform beautiful pieces that touch the soul.”

The first half of the program showcased the exceptional talents of individual singers and musicians. The ethereal soprano voice of Catherine Tucker graced the stage, delivering heartfelt renditions of Franz Schubert’s “Seligkeit” and “Ave Maria,” both accompanied by the skilled pianist Johnathan Fang. Cassie Tucker, accompanied by her viola, performed a captivating rendition of “Bouree I & II” from Cello Suite III by J.S. Bach. Pianist Miranda Mansell further enriched the evening with her enchanting performances of J.F.F. Burgmuller’s “La Candeur,” “Ballade,” and “Arabesque,” while Johnathan Fang showcased his piano virtuosity with a mesmerizing solo rendition of Schumann/Liszt’s “Liebeslied.” The first half concluded with Marvin Byas, renowned for his exceptional vocal and piano talents, delivering a soul-stirring performance of his original composition, “King of All the Earth.”

Catherine Tucker performs Ave Maria by Franz Shubert. Photo Courtney Cole

Following a brief intermission, the highlight of the evening unfolded as The Marvin Byas Singers led the audience through J.H. Maunder’s powerful and evocative oratorio, “Olivet to Calvary.” Dr. William Stockton of JCCC commenced the second half with a stirring reading of “The Proclamation of the Birth of Christ,” setting the stage for the musical journey that followed. This was followed by a poignant recitation of “God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

The centerpiece of the evening, “Olivet to Calvary,” immersed the audience in the story of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. The eight-person choir, comprising Donovan Jones (Soloist), Lila Frazier (Soprano), Catie Tucker (Assistant to the Conductor, Soprano), Cassie Tucker (Alto), Abigail Shubert (Soloist), Miranda Mansell (Alto), Sean Carder (Tenor), Ethan Wolfe (Soloist), and Darrell Tucker (Soloist), delivered a heartfelt performance that conveyed the emotional depth and spiritual significance of the piece. Marvin Byas, IV, skillfully conducted the choir, while Jonathan Fang provided impeccable accompaniment on the piano.

The Marvin Byas Singers. Photo Shannon Greene

The festival left attendees deeply moved and spiritually enriched, a testament to the power of sacred music to inspire and unite. To stay updated on The Marvin Byas Singers’ upcoming performances and to learn more about their exceptional repertoire, visit their website at marvinbyassingers.com.

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