It's hard to believe the event could get any better... Rich harmonies from about 150 talented voices filled the 1,200-seat Baha'i House of Worship auditorium with uplifting scriptural music at two free public concerts on Sunday May 24, 2009.
It is estimated that about 700 people attended the 10:00 a.m. concert and perhaps 900 at the 12:30 p.m. program.
The Choral Music Festival concerts, held annually at the Baha'i House of Worship in Wilmette, Ill., have been a huge success since the Festival began in 2007.
This year, the director and the choir seemed to shine even more brightly.
"We LOVED it," exclaimed one visitor who tried to describe how much he and his wife enjoyed the concert. "It will be hard (impossible really) to describe the feeling of being in your lovely sanctuary; watching the interaction between the Maestro Gilmer and the choir and listening to the beautiful music."
The Third Annual Baha'i Choral Festival built on tremendously successful prior events in 2007 and 2008. This year, the group of about 150 singers from around the the U.S., Canada--and even one soloist from Uganda, Africa--assembled for multi-day rehearsals, workshops and performances beginning on Thursday afternoon, May 21.
Gilmer describes it as "miraculous" that the choir members are able to perform so beautifully together after just a few days of practice.
The concerts on Sunday were a cappella (without instruments) and included classical liturgical music of the Baha'i Faith and other religions, as well as gospel music and other multicultural selections. The diverse selection of 14 songs included: the Negro Spiritual, "I'm Going Back to the Father"; a song about the Founder of the Baha'i Faith, "O Baha'u'llah"; and the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." (Concert program, including devotional selections and recordings of each song)
After the second concert, the choir members filed outside to pose for photos and pleased the crowd by singing a few songs on the steps of the Temple.
Baha'i Choral Festival Director, Van Gilmer, is the House of Worship's Director of Music and an internationally known performer, choir director, composer and writer/winner of the Best Gospel Song at the 2006 Independent Music Awards.
Gilmer revels in assembling choirs to sing scripture of the world's religions, celebrate God and inspire audiences with rich, heavenly harmonies that reach the heart and soul.
Comcast cable television subscribers in Cook County, Ill will have the opportunity to watch an hour-long broadcast of the choral concert at 7:30 p.m. on four consecutive Mondays: June 8, 15, 22 and 29. (If you are a Cook County, Ill resident and Comcast subscriber, check Comcast to see which channel - either 19 or 35 - provides local programming in your area.)