guest soloist Tshombe Selby

The Binghamton Downtown Singers and Orchestra will present their annual spring concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (June 8) at Sarah Jane Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church, 308 Main St., Johnson City. Its theme: “Love, Harmony and Spirit.”

Robert J. Manners, interim artistic director of the Downtown Singers, will conduct the chorus in three works: R. Nathaniel Dett’s “The Chariot Jubilee” with guest soloist Tshombe Selby, tenor; Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Five Mystical Songs” with guest soloist Timothy LeFebvre, baritone, and “Sing for the Cure: A Proclamation of Hope” (various composers) with guest narrator Tracy Davidson.

About the program:

  • “The Chariot Jubilee” was composed in 1919 after Dett, a descendant of slaves, received a commission from Howard Lyman and the Syracuse University Chorus. It is thought to be the first symphonic work based solely on a spiritual (“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”). Selby received his master’s in music from Binghamton University. He has performed operatic leads throughout the Northeast and is a chorus member and ensemble soloist with the Metropolitan Opera.
  • “Five Mystical Songs” reflects Vaughan Williams interest in both Anglican liturgy and music and the mysticism of the metaphysical poets. LeFebvre’s extensive operatic and concert experience has taken him around the country, including performances locally with Tri-Cities Opera and the Downtown Singers. He, too, received his MM at Binghamton University. He is Professor of Voice at Oberlin Conservatory of Music and division director of vocal studies.
  • “Sing for the Cure” is a choral collection based on true stories of breast cancer survivors. The songs are by different composer but are united in their message of bravery and love. The piece was commissioned several years ago to benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and the foundation receives a portion of the proceeds from the Downtown Singers’ purchase of the music. Davidson, an Emmy Award-winning journalist from NBC 10 News in Philadelphia, is a highly regarded resilience speaker.

Manners said he purposely picked a diverse repertoire for the concert. “Being new to the group, I wanted to do something I was familiar with, but also somewhat challenging for the group,” he said.

“It so important for the community to hear a large choral sound,” he added.

IF YOU GO: General admission tickets are $21 online/credit card and $20 cash/check at, 607-205-8741, or at the door. One student is admitted free for each paid adult. More information:

— George Basler