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Heritage Ensemble Celebrates 20th Anniversary By Dr. Francesca Armmer

Heritage Ensemble flyer_v1On Saturday, June 15, 2019, at 7:30 pm, at the Illinois Central College Performing Arts Center, the Heritage Ensemble invites you to celebrate with us our landmark 20th Anniversary! “Juneteenth: An American Celebration – A Revue of Favorites over the Years.” The theme of the performance combines the historical celebration of Juneteenth with our Community Celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Heritage Ensemble.

The uniqueness of this celebration will be the journey through the powerful music that has been performed by the Heritage Ensemble over the past 20 years. A musical revue of the Negro spiritual (born in a time of slavery, despair and sorrow) to the post-emancipation time period, through the Harlem Renaissance and to equally powerful gospel music (born out of an anticipatory view of joy and freedom to come) will be a part of the celebration. This 20th Anniversary celebration will feature performance of music by the Heritage Ensemble Reunion Choir. Charter members and members from our last two decades will blend their voices in a performance that is designed to foster a joyous evening and to strengthen your heart.

This Concert will also feature our Youth Heritage Ensemble. Take a moment and allow your imagination to “picture” a stage with five generations of singers blending their voices in this 20th Anniversary celebration! This is an event that you have to plan to attend!

The June performance is lovingly referred to as the “Juneteenth” concert; allowing all of us to reflect upon the emancipation experience and the delay of the Emancipation Proclamation in implementation in the state of Texas.

The Heritage Ensemble began as a vision from the founder and artistic director, Mrs. Sharon Samuels Reed. Together a core group of performers were called upon to be the pivotal community in the Opera Illinois production of Porgy and Bess. In preparation for this production, the group performed A Concert of Spirituals. This marked the beginning of a choral ensemble that has taken the Peoria Metro community, the State of Illinois, and our United States on musical journeys that have been described as “edutainment,” a rich blend of education and entertainment. Thus, every year the Heritage Ensemble presents two signature concerts, the Martin Luther King Jr., Concert in January and the Juneteenth concert in June.

Mission Statement: The Heritage Ensemble exists to celebrate the culture and history of African Americans through music. People of all cultures will be exposed to the diversity, beauty, richness, and complexity of musical literature born out of the African American Experience. Whether it is through our singing or the message in our music, the Heritage Ensemble strives to tear down walls and build bridges between all people. This diverse literature—spirituals, ragtime, jazz, gospel, work songs, hollers will be presented in a professional manner for the education and enjoyment of its members as well as for the entertainment and cultural enrichment of the community.

In staying ever true to the mission of the Heritage Ensemble, The Youth Heritage Ensemble was founded. The Youth Heritage Ensemble was established for young people in grades 7-12 to strengthen and nurture the youth of our community. In addition to performing a diverse set of musical selections, these young members have an opportunity to cultivate leadership, citizenship, and professional skills that will serve them well in their future careers. The legacy of the Heritage Ensemble is mirrored in the Youth Heritage Ensemble, blending the wisdom of experience with the excitement of youth! It is our joy to revitalize the Youth Heritage Ensemble. There is a necessity embedded in the times in which we live for parents, friends, and loved ones to encourage and support our Youth Heritage Ensemble.

An exciting feature of our 20th Anniversary Juneteenth performance of the Heritage Ensemble is the presentation of the “Bridge Builder Award.” This award is presented to a community leader/activist/contributor who exemplifies the essence of the mission of the Heritage Ensemble. Past recipients have been Mr. Frank Campbell (awarded posthumously), Mrs. Erma Davis, Mr. Preston Jackson, Mr. Jimmy Binkley, Dr. Rita Ali, Mr. Donald R. Jackson, and Mr. Garry Moore. The 20th Anniversary 2019 recipient will be announced during the upcoming concert.

We encourage you, your family, and your friends to spend Saturday, June 15, 2019 at 7:30pm at the Performing Arts Center of Illinois Central College on a journey with the Heritage Ensemble. Our 20th Anniversary Celebration will be a true delight! Together we shall reminisce through time—with memories that encourage, are hopeful, and are joyous!

Tickets may be obtained from any Heritage Ensemble member or at the ICC Performing Arts Center. Prices are $15 Adults, $12 Seniors, and $8 Students. If you would prefer to ride the shuttle, “Park and Ride,” please make arrangements by calling 309-550-4242.