Under 'new' direction

Former director returns to take over Capital City Chorale

By Phil Case, Published:

Under the direction of a new conductor who’s actually an old conductor “come home,” the Capital City Chorale is set to offer its annual Christmas performance, “Cobbler and Cream,” 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, Broadway and Ann Streets.

The cost is $10 per person, which includes dessert.

Dr. Phyllis Vincent, who conducted the Chorale for several years during the 1990s, returns to the podium while Gary Johnson, who has been director for the past decade or more, moves to the piano as principal accompanist. Johnson asked to step down last summer to have more time to spend with his wife, Barbara, who died last fall.

“Things have gone very well,” said Vincent, who was choral director at Western Hills High School from 1980-2000. “We have more than 50 singers this year and lots of them are my former students.”

Vincent holds a doctorate in choral music from the University of Kentucky. After leaving WHHS, she was on the music faculty at Northern Kentucky University for four years, most recently having served as minister of music at Broadway Baptist Church in Louisville.

“I have three grandchildren and a 92-year-old mother,” she said, “and I just thought it was time to come home.” She and her husband, Joe, enjoy time with family and traveling.

Vincent said she’s delighted to have Johnson as accompanist.

“He’s very precise and has a willingness to follow my directing — two characteristics vital for a good accompanist.”

The program

Tuesday night’s program reprises a theme, “cobbler and cream,” popular when Vincent directed the Chorale in the 1990s.

“I want the audience to come, get something to eat and drink, sit and enjoy the concert,” she said. “I appreciate all the churches allow us to do but I’d like to get this out into the community, out of the ‘church choir’ setting, make it a bit more informal.”

The music Vincent has selected features a mix of sacred and secular pieces for the Christmas season, opening with “Deo Gloria” by Boyd Benson and concluding with Harry Simeone’s arrangement of the quintessential Clement C. Moore’s “Twas the Night Before Christmas” with Mark Wallace as the soloist.

“There are carol arrangements and songs people will easily recognize,” she said, “and there are some other pieces perhaps not heard as often.”

The evening will feature the entire group singing a number of selections with the women and men performing separately, too.

Additional musicians include Gabrielle Gayheart on the piano and keyboard, flutist Janie Forman, Lee Cowherd on bass and a brass sextet featuring David Goins, Coleman Scott, Bill Buchwald, Aaron Stepp, Casey Anderson and Noah Strunk.

Vincent is hoping the program will serve as a springboard to the upcoming semester and more singers will want to join the group.

“I want to keep recruiting and to participate in more community functions. This group is a great one to work with featuring talented and capable singers and fun personalities, all with a good work ethic.

“I believe we’ve put together a program the community will enjoy.”

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