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London Symphony Orchestra goes gospel for the first time ever

by Tola Mbakwe
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A top US gospel composer will lead London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) and a mass community choir in their first ever concert of solely gospel music. 

André J Thomas, who's also a prominent conductor and Yale University professor, said the sold out concert on Sunday at the Barbican Centre in London will give the audience a taste of what gospel music represents. 

He told The Observer "It is growing all over the world."

"Like folk music, gospel represents a culture. So you can empathise with it as any artist would, like an actor in a play. And if you identify with the faith as well, that makes it easier."

The 400-person choir is comprised of community choirs in Hackney, London and Milton Keynes. 

The event called "Gospel Mass – A Celebration of Love and Joy" aims to exlpore the gospel African American musical tradition, 

As well as performing well-known Christian tunes like 'He's got the whole world in his hands', 'Swing low sweet chariot', the audience will also hear "spirituals" which originate from a time when African-Americans were enslaved. 

LSO managing director Kathryn McDowell told The Observer the gospel concert is something that made sense for orchestra to do. 

"There is a strong tradition of church commission in classical music," she said. 

"And the traditions of this particular music are really important in London today."

American guest soloists NaGuanda Nobles and Jason Dungee will also be part of the performance

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