The Washington National Cathedral – where The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously preached, and where numerous inaugurations and state funerals have been staged – will host Eastern Mennonite University’s vocal ensemble, Emulate, on Sunday, Nov. 20. Beginning at 3:25 p.m., Emulate will perform a 25-minute prelude to the cathedral’s evensong service.
Evensong, a traditional service of sung evening prayer open to all, is one hour each Sunday from September to May. Emulate will participate in the service as well.
“It’s a valuable experience to sing and perform at one of our nation’s greatest treasures,” says director Ryan Keebaugh, professor of music. “Also, it gives the choir an opportunity to serve, lead and represent EMU as a valued part of the National Cathedral’s music ministry.”
Emulate’s set will include pieces by Eric Whitacre, John Tavener, Thomas Tallis, Alexander L’Estrange and James MacMillan.
The National Cathedral was built in 1907 with daily services beginning in 1912. The vision of the building, according to its website, is “to be a catalyst for spiritual harmony in our nation, reconciliation among faiths, and compassion in the world.”
Ensemble meets high standards
The application process to perform at the Sunday evensong prelude includes submission of a repertoire list, programs and recordings of sacred a capella music, according to Keebaugh.
“Emulate was selected for our visiting choir program based in large part on the excellent quality of the recording they submitted,” said George Fergus, the cathedral’s second organist who liaises with visiting choirs. “We are listening for choirs who demonstrate a high level of precision and musicality.”
Building stamina has been important in preparing for the performance, Keebaugh says. “The repertoire for this type of worship is demanding and requires vocal artistry and focus. We work diligently, through warm-ups, on many of these facets at the beginning of every rehearsal.”
Members include Brooke Bevington, of Grottoes, Virginia; Jonathan Bishop, Blooming Glen, Pennsylvania; Megan Bishop, Blooming Glen, Pennsylvania; Perry Blosser, Harrisonburg, Virginia; Clara Bush, Souderton, Pennsylvania; Brandon Chupp. Canby, Oregon; Rachel Holderman, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania; Michaela Mast, Broadway, Virginia; Sylvia Mast, Broadway, Virginia; Jacob Rhine, Indianapolis, Indiana; Emma Roth, Goshen, Indiana; Caleb Schrock-Hurst, Harrisonburg, Virginia; Andry Stutzman, Harrisonburg, Virginia; Eli Wenger, Broadway, Virginia; Leah Wenger, Broadway, Virginia; and Ben Zook, Canton, Ohio.
Emulate will also perform a candlelight concert on Saturday, Dec. 3, 8 p.m, at the Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg, Virginia followed by a concert on Thursday, Dec. 8, 7 p.m., at Park View Mennonite Church in Harrisonburg.