(Posted January 7, 2002)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- A choral ensemble of Juniata College students, faculty and staff, as well as choir members and singers from Huntingdon and surrounding communities will come together to sing spirituals, gospel songs and sacred hymns to celebrate the college's Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 17 in Rosenberger Auditorium in Oller Hall on the Juniata campus.

The event is free and open to the public.

The theme for the 11th annual convocation, is "I Still Believe." The choral concert will be conducted by Anthony Leach, assistant professor of choral music at Penn State University. Prior to the concert, Leach will hold a workshop for interested singers from 6 to 9 p.m. Jan. 14 in Oller Hall. Performers for the concert will be asked to be at Oller Hall by 6 p.m. for vocal warm ups.

The music selections will be taken from gospel and spiritual arrangements typical of the music styles prevalent during Dr. King's life. Although Leach has not chosen specific songs in advance, repertoire that his ensembles have performed include "Freedom Come," "Old Time Religion," "St. Louis Blues," "Glory, Glory Hallelujah!" and many other scared and secular works.

Leach is director of The University Choir and the choral group Essence of Joy, an ensemble of Penn State students who specialize in gospel and African-American music. A native of Washington, D.C., Leach still serves as minister of music and organist at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Washington and the University Baptist-Brethren Church in State College. Choirs under his direction have performed throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.

Leach also worked as a music teacher in school systems in New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania. He earned a bachelor's degree in music education from Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa. He earned a master's degree in conducting and a doctorate in music education from Penn State.

Leach also serves as national chair of the American Choral Directors Association repertoire and standards committee on multicultural and ethnic perspectives. He also worked as the accompanist for the Howard University Choir in Washington, D.C.

Those who are interested in attending the choral workshop and performing in the community choir to honor Martin Luther King can call the dean of students office at Juniata College at (814) 641-3150. The college asks that interested singers leave their name as well as the voice part they typically sing.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.