York hosts Gospel Inter-Varsity Explosion fundraiser tomorrow

Imagine the power of more than 150 voices raised in chorus; now imagine that power expressed through gospel music. On Saturday, the York University Gospel Choir will join voices with choirs from the University of Toronto, McMaster University and Humber College for a rafter-raising celebration of gospel music as part of the fourth annual Gospel Inter-Varsity Explosion (GIVE) fundraiser.

 Above: Members of the York University Gospel Choir


York’s Music Department is hosting GIVE, and music Professor Karen Burke, founding director of the York University Gospel Choir and co-founder and director of the Toronto Mass Choir, is the powerhouse behind the event. This year’s GIVE fundraiser will be collecting donations of non-perishable food items in support of the York University Food 4 Thought Food Bank.

Located in room 447 of the York Student Centre on the Keele campus, Food 4 Thought collects food donations and basic personal items and gives them to members of the University’s student community who find themselves in a position where they can no longer afford to purchase these items for themselves. Food 4 Thought also works to provide healthy, balanced food choices, and to ensure that the food provided can, to whatever extent possible, fit the diverse cultural and dietary needs of the community.

Left: Karen Burke

During the afternoon rehearsal (open to the public), the choirs will learn new gospel works plus popular repertoire from some of the most inspiring composers in the genre, such as Joe Pace, Hezekiah Walker and Kirk Franklin.

The evening concert will feature performances by the choirs, first individually and then as a massed choir of some 175 voices, backed by a professional rhythm section directed by Corey Butler.

"We are excited to see the growth of this program to include new gospel choirs from postsecondary institutions in Canada. This year we welcome our newest participant, the Humber Gospel Choir, run by Humber student Andre Reid,” says Burke. "Even more thrilling to me than hearing each of the individual choir offerings is to hear all four of the choirs together on stage, singing music that they would have learned just hours before – truly amazing!"

Burke’s Juno Award-winning Toronto Mass Choir takes the stage as special guests for the grand finale.

A singer, music director and composer in the field of African-American vocal music, Burke is recognized as an authority on the history and performance practices of gospel music. Burke has worked with major choral ensembles and organizations, including the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and Youth Choir, the Toronto Choral Society and the Ontario Choral Federation, now known as Choirs Ontario. In 1988, she co-founded the Juno Award-winning Toronto Mass Choir.

The GIVE event takes place Saturday, Oct. 24, at the Tribute Communities Recital Hall in York’s Accolade East Building. Admission is free with the donation of a non-perishable food item. The event begins at 6:30pm and will run to 8:30pm. The afternoon recital is open to the public and starts at 2pm. For more information, call ext. 22926.