First Baptist Church of Woodstock’s music ministry to play Carnegie Hall

By MATT NEUENSCHWANDER

WOODSTOCK, Ga. — First Baptist Church of Woodstock’s choir and orchestra will take the stage of New York’s Carnegie Hall in June with Grammy Award winning artist Jason Crabb.

About 200 of the church’s musicians will fill Carnegie Hall with their musical talents Saturday, June 4, for “A Summer Night of Gospel Music,” which is expected to fill the famed concert hall’s 2,804 seats.

To fill the venue, First Baptist Church of Woodstock will work with churches in the New York area to distribute tickets to underprivileged communities, the church’s senior minister of music and worship Scott White said.

The program is designed to mimic a regular Sunday service for First Baptist Church of Woodstock. Senior pastor Johnny Hunt will give a brief sermon to break up the musical set. Though Carnegie Hall is a formal venue, “A Summer Night of Gospel Music” will be more casual since the church pictures the program to be an extension of its personality.

“We’re not putting on a show,” White said. “We just want it to be an overflow of who we are and what Jesus is doing in our lives.”

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Scott White (Photo by Matt Neuenschwander)

The performance will include songs by only the orchestra, songs with the choir and orchestra and collaboration songs featuring Crabb, who is the special guest artist; the orchestra-only songs of the program will be directed by the church’s associate minister of music Gary Gaston.

Though the church’s music ministry relies on its hundreds of volunteers, its trip to Carnegie Hall this summer will be well-rehearsed, precise and outstanding. The group’s talents will be stretched through encouragement and achievable standards to attain excellence, Gaston said.

“We want to do it with passion and with power and we’re going to have that because we’re singing about the one who is passion and power,” White said.

First Baptist Church of Woodstock’s music ministry has played in over 50 countries, including Russia and Argentina, but the drive of the volunteers during practice is what ensures quality.

“People come in and you hear them say, ‘It’s kind of my one time a week or couple of times a week where I just get to put life aside,’” Gaston said.

First Baptist Church of Woodstock’s choir and orchestra will worship Sunday during Brooklyn Tabernacle’s afternoon service, which is nearby in Brooklyn, New York, White said.

New York’s Carnegie Hall is considered the pinnacle for concert halls, which is why the church’s music ministry is eager to play in a venue acoustically suited for their musical makeup.

“For us, it’ll be a much more enjoyable environment because it’ll be a lot of acoustics and minimal electronics,” Gaston said.

Carnegie Hall, which is about a third of the size of the church’s worship center, will allow the orchestra to control the musical tone and energy, Gaston said.

In addition to sightseeing and miscellaneous itinerary, the music ministry’s trip will be capped off by a flash mob in Times Square in the evening of Monday June 6.

Tickets for First Baptist Church of Woodstock’s performance at Carnegie Hall will be available on carnegiehall.com starting March 1. Additional information can be found on the church’s website under the upcoming events tab.

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