Voices of Victory brings the Gospel back to Christmas

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TORCH PHOTO/LAUREN FINEGAN

Ariana Ortiz, Assistant News Editor

Voices of Victory staged their 28th annual Christmas concert this past Saturday evening in the Little Theatre, accompanied by a live band and performing for an audience of about 100 St. John’s community members.

Voices of Victory is a gospel choir which was established at the University in 1988, and has been under the musical direction of Nigel W. Gretton since its inception.

The program consisted of energetic gospel arrangements of classical Christmas songs, including “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and “Hallelujah.” Sinai’s Radiant Liturgical Dance Ministry, a Christian dance organization at the University, opened the event with a robust performance which set the celebratory mood of the night. The choir then made its dramatic entrance, members filtering onstage in sync through the aisles to begin their rhythmic rendition of “Joy to The World.”

“All the songs were so amazing, I don’t think I even have a favorite… An enormous time of preparation has to go into all of this,” Megan Monahan, junior and audience member, said.

Gretton acted as musical director and MC of the event, sharing bits of background information behind each piece and introducing its respective soloists.

The choir’s performance of “For Unto Us A Child Is Born” surprised the audience with a memorable twist on the arrangement, as soloist Zamarin Cole hopped to the front of the stage to rap over the song’s harmonies.

Darria Credle, a St. John’s alumna and former member of the choir, received a standing ovation from the audience immediately following her powerful vocal performance in “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” the most contemplative song of the night. Remy Martin’s dynamic solo performance in “Infant Lowly, Infant Holy” prompted some audience members to stand and clap to the beat of the music.

TORCH PHOTO/LAUREN FINEGAN

The songs the choir performed were of varying tempos so as not to allow a lull in the program, successfully keeping the energy level of the audience at a high level. Gretton’s seasoned musical direction and the collective talents of the choir were expertly showcased, and the distinct voices of each choir member melded harmoniously.

“We spent months on end perfecting it, and this week we spent at least eight hours every day just rehearsing..It was great to sing with Voices tonight and be a part of such a great thing,” Icsis McNeill said, a choir member of Voices of Victory. McNeill performed both in the choir and as a soloist on “We Three Kings,” along with Robert Pope.

Voices of Victory, in collaboration with Sinai’s Radiant Liturgical Dance Ministry, brought some much-needed Christmas spirit to a student body currently stressing over finals.