MUSICIANS

241 of New Orleans’ most highly regarded musicians and singers contributed their time and talent to support the production of this monumental composition through its six-year journey to completion. The recording includes the performances of the 118 members of the Symphony Chorus of New Orleans, 29 members of Moses Hogan Negro Spiritual Chorale, 38 members of the combined Ursuline Academy Children’s Choir, an 18-piece orchestra, 8 vocal soloists, 10 instrumental soloist and 20 volunteers from the city’s best amateur choral groups.

All participants including the musicians, choir members, vocal soloists, orchestra members and both recording studios and their personnel either donated their time and talent or worked for a fraction of their normal compensation in tribute to the spiritual magnitude A Creole Mass and because of Wardell Quezergue’s lifelong contribution as an innovator and pioneer of a musical form through which our community is identified.

THE ORCHESTRA

The Orchestra: Sam Henry, piano & organ; David Torkanowsky, Hammond B3 and Synthesizer, Leo Williams & Jay Griggs, Guitar; Bernard Johnson & Herman LeBeaux, drums; Charles Moore, bass; Rosalie Washington, aka Lady Tambourine

Horns: Tony Dragati, flute, alto & tenor sax; Carl Bluin, baritone sax; David Sager, trombone, Ron Benko, trumpet; Jeremy Davenport, trumpet.

THE COMBINED CHORUS

In addition to the 22 voices of our first volunteer choir whose musical and emotional path we built upon, A Creole Mass Choir unites three of the most accomplished choirs in south. The Symphony Chorus of New Orleans (choir master, Steven Edwards), Moses Hogan Chorale (choir master, Moses G. Hogan) Christian Unity Baptist Church Choir, (Pastor, Dwight Webster; choir master, Hezekiah Brinson) and introduces the combined middle and high school choirs of Ursuline Academy, the oldest girls school in America.

SYMPHONY CHORUS OF NEW ORLEANS

Symphony Chorus of New Orleans, founded in 1981, is the Principal Chorus of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. Directed by Steven Edwards, the chorus consists of over 100 volunteer singers, each having considerable experience in choral music. Many of them hold professional positions with other choruses and church choirs throughout the city. Symphony Chorus of New Orleans strives to enhance the educational and cultural activities of the general population of Greater New Orleans, without regard to age, race, national origin, or religious background.

MOSES HOGAN CHORALE

The Moses Hogan Chorale is New Orleans’ premier Choral ensemble. The Chorale’s African-American membership of 27 voices represents a combination of two successful choruses established by Hogan, the acclaimed New World Ensemble and the New Orleans Heritage Choir. Recognized internationally for their unique versatile style, Moses Hogan Chorale has performed before worldwide audiences.

CHRISTIAN UNITY BAPTIST CHURCH

Comprised of four choirs, Voices of Praise (adults), Harmony (males), Inspiration (young adult) and Joy (children), the Voices of Unity Choir serves as the combined choir for Christian Unity Baptist Church. The Voices of Unity have sung for special worship services and provided choral leadership and support for the Essence Music Festival, Southern University at New Orleans, the Progressive National Baptist Convention, the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE), the National Black Educators Conference and Their Voices Cry Freedom, composed by world renowned composer and Jazz Trumpeter, Hannibal Lokumbe.

URSULINE ACADEMY CHOIR

Ursuline Academy, founded in 1727 is the oldest all girls school in America. The 39 voices of the combined middle high and school, under the direction of choral director Karen Jakiela, sing the magnificent and moving Children of God

All members of the combined chorus, even with their rigorous rehearsal schedules, professional engagements and personal lives, made time to include Wardell Quezergue’s, A Creole Mass in their 1999 and 2000 performance schedule.

 

PRINCIPAL SOLOISTS

Rev. Cynthia Wilson (Soprano), is an internationally known recording artist. Her amazing 3_-octave range has delighted thousands around the globe. Her magnificent performance and peaceful spirit turned our 14-hour recording session into a day and night of good humor, joy and Praise. A New Orleans native, Rev. Wilson, is presently serving as Pastor of Music and Worship at Ben Hill United Methodist Church in Atlanta.

Bobbie E. Wilson, Sr. (Tenor) While paying his respects at the funeral of a family friend, Wardell Quezergue was deeply moved by the singing of one of the most prayerful voices he had ever heard.

It turned out to be New Orleans native, Bobbie Wilson, Sr. Wardell was so taken by the apparent comfort Bobbie’s sung prayers brought to the family that the next morning he asked Bobbie to be the principal tenor on A Creole Mass. As you will hear, Wardell’s fateful meeting* with Bobbie Wilson has given A Creole Mass a Heavenly Power and Grace that can only be attributed to God’s abundant gifts.

Gary Foster (Tenor) Born in New Orleans, Greg is a member of both the world renowned Moses Hogan’s Chorale and the New Orleans Archdiocese Mass Choir. In addition to his duties with these prominent and busy choirs he serves as cantor for New Orleans’ Corpus Christi Church. Greg is a kindergarten teacher with a BA from Dillard University and an MA in guidance and counseling from Xavier University

Alfred Walker (Bass-baritone) A native of New Orleans, Mr. Walker joined the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program in the fall of 1997. He made his Met debut during the 1997-98 season as Gregorio in Roméo et Juliette. He attended graduate school at Loyola University where he made several appearances including the four Villains in The Tales of Hoffmann and Seneca in The Coronation of Poppea. His amazingly rich and elegant bass-baritone expresses through the beloved Prayer of St. Francis, all of humanity’s plea for God’s Wisdom, Peace and Love.

Moses G. Hogan, a New Orleans native, is a gifted pianist, conductor and arranger of international renown. He is a graduate of New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio. He also studied at New York’s Juilliard School of Music and Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Mr. Hogan’s many accomplishments as a concert pianist include winning first pace at the 28th annual Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Competition on New York. His brilliant artistry adds a prayerful and sweet texture to Prayer of St. Francis and Children of God.

*During our first recording session, I asked Bobbie if he knew a "very talented" soprano who would want to audition for the principal soprano part. He told me that his sister was "very good" and that she would be perfect for the part. I thanked him and commented to myself how thoughtful it was of him to recommend his sister. Buy, I thought, I needed a major talent, not someone’s sister. Bobbie told me that his sister would be singing at the Dillard University Choir’s annual Christmas presentation in two weeks. He said, "It’s free, why don’t you go hear her." Bobbie’s work on A Creole Mass was outstanding. So, I decided as a favor to Bobbie to go to the Dillard presentation to hear his sister sing. I expected to hear a talented singer, after all, the Dillard University Christmas performance is known through out New Orleans as an inspirational annual Christmas event. What I didn’t expect was to hear was one of the most magnificent, God given vocal gifts I had ever heard. That night, in Lawless Memorial Chapel, I met Bobbie’s sister, Rev. Cynthia Wilson.

After the performance, I saw Bobbie in the back of the Chapel. When our eyes met he smiled at me with the most self-satisfied "I told you so" looks I had ever experienced. I won’t doubt Bobbie again.