ON THE HORIZON: After several acclaimed performances, including a highly heralded Canada appearance, The Jason Max Ferdinand Singers will make their official Washington, D.C. début in the grandeur of National City Christian Church.
by Patrick D. McCoy
For those who adventure into the world of concert choral music it is not unusual to encounter a vocal ensemble named and fashioned after a specific namesake. The Dale Warland Singers, The Robert Shaw Festival Singers, The Robert DeCormier Singers, The Albert McNeill Jubilee Singers or The Lloyd Mallory Singers may initially come to mind. A game-changer has arrived on the scene-ready to add its name to the marquee of this grand tradition. Named for, created and led by celebrated conductor Jason Max Ferdinand, it is with great excitement that we share in announcing the second season of The Jason Max Ferdinand Singers.
Premiering in March 2021, the ensemble appeared with Decca Classics recording artists Voces8, to create a live virtual concert experience for music lovers around the world who were quarantined during in the midst of the COVID-10 pandemic entitled, Live from London. Since then,the group has toured both nationally and internationally. The twenty-eight member mixed vocal ensemble will make its Washington, D.C. début on Saturday, August 13, 2022 at 5 p.m. in the iconic sacred splendor of National City Christian Church.
In regards to his newly formed brainchild, Jason says, “This is not a nascent concept, and I’ve
been conceptualizing it for about twenty years. I am anxious and ready to create it. With some
prodding and a team in place, I have been encouraged to set it free. The voices are exciting, the
repertoire will reach hearts and minds, and bring hope for a better tomorrow.”
We caught up with Ferdinand to chat about the significance of his ensemble and the big DC début:
PDM: What specifically inspired the formation of The Jason Max Ferdinand Singers?
JMF: The seed for this endeavor was planted way back in 2001. It was after my Master’s recital at Morgan State University, where my professor was Dr. Nathan Carter, many members of that ensemble pleased for me to keep the group together. Angelo Johnson, my dear friend and member of this present ensemble, would constantly remind me for the next 20+ years. Honestly, I was scared to venture out. It was at the asking of Robin Tyson, manager of Voces8, that compelled me to strongly consider it and here we are.
PDM: Musically speaking, what would you say is (or will be) the hallmark of your ensemble?
JMF: The beauty of this aggregation, and the ongoing response to that question, is that, we are enjoying discovering the answer. We have a total blast enjoying the varying talents and everyone literal brings their own voice to the mix. Time will tell and perhaps, the answer should be left as an ongoing quest.
PDM: Your upcoming DC dèbut concert is in one of Washington’s most iconic sacred spaces. What led you to National City as the performance venue?
JMF: It is interesting how the stars align. It was a mutual friend that connected Gerald Lee Ricks and I together. Gerald serves as musical director at the historic church and he presented the idea and more. We are so humbled to now be connected.
PDM: Tell us about the composition of the group.
JMF: The composition is what makes this such a beautiful thing. We have as some examples:
- 10-time Grammy winner
- Law students
- Police Officer
- Undergraduate and Graduate Students
- Music Teachers
- Music Producers
Most importantly, we have a great group of citizens.
Dr. Jason Max Ferdinand is perhaps most well known for his most recent tenure as the conductor of the award-winning Aeolians of Oakwood University, in Huntsville Alabama. Recently, he been appointed as the new Director of Choral Activities at his alma mater, the University of Maryland, College Park, succeeding his long time mentor and professor Dr. Edward Maclary. Additionally, Ferdinand’s choral series, his recently released book: Teaching With Heart, a Conductor’s Compendium for Addressing Societal Challenges through Music and the Jason Max Ferdinand Singers’ album Solace, are all available through GIA Publishing and on all streaming platforms.
WATCH AND LISTEN:
In addition to the big event on the 13th, there will be an exciting free pop-up concert on Friday, August 12th at 2 p.m. that promises to pique your curiosity for the main event.
A native of Petersburg, VA, Patrick holds a BM in Vocal Performance from Virginia State University and a MM in Church Music from Shenandoah Conservatory. Formerly the Performing Arts Columnist for Washington Life Magazine, he currently is a freelance writer, publishing articles for several noted publications, including The Washington Post, Early Music America Classical Music Voice North America, The Afro-American Newspaper, CBS Washington and Examiner.com. Most recently, he was named as a new contributor to Washington Classical Classical Review. He is a Board Member of the Music Critics Association of North America, a member of the National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc., The American Choral Directors’ Association, The Association of Anglican Musicians a former member of the Shenandoah University Alumni Board of Directors, the Shenandoah University Black Alumni Network and a Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Just recently he was named to the Dean’s Circle of the Shenandoah Conservatory Advisory Board. He serves as Organist/Choirmaster at Saint John’s Episcopal Church, Zion Parish in Beltsville, MD and is Interim Director of Choral Activities and Instructor of Music at Virginia State University. Visit http://patrickdmccoy.com and follow him on twitter @PatrickDMcCoy, IG: PDM06. and subscribe to “Across the Arts” on YouTube.