Gospel choir to kick off the holiday season

PLATTSBURGH - Five years later, one choir is still bringing "A Soulful Christmas" to people of the North Country.

The State University of New York at Plattsburgh's Gospel Choir will perform this Sunday, Dec. 5, starting at 4 p.m. in Hawkins Hall's Giltz Auditorium. The show is expected to last two hours.

"We always encourage everyone to get here early, so we can start at 4 p.m. and at the latest folks are leaving around 6 p.m.," said the gospel choir's director and SUNY Plattsburgh professor, Dr. Dexter Criss.

The gospel choir was founded 20 years ago and it is comprised of mostly students, outside community members, faculty and staff, explained Criss. The musicians, however, are mainly from Vermont.

"We decided that it would be fun to do a Christmas concert, and do Christmas carols and Christmas gospel songs, and that's how we came up with the name 'A Soulful Christmas,'" said Criss.

The show will have performances by the choir's step team and praise dance team, which is a "smaller group within the choir," according to the gospel choir's Web site.

Other performances featured will be The Accidentals from Beekmantown High School, and Peru High School violinist Emily Allen. A new aspect being added to this year's show is a sing-a-long with the audience, which has never been done before. Another new part to this year's show is a solo piece done by a new student director hailing from Trinidad.

"He has performed in front of President Barack Obama and the Queen of England," added Criss.

Although much advertisement is done in places like Albany, Montreal, Vermont and surrounding cities, most of the attendees are locals.

"Sixty to seventy percent of the audience is from the Plattsburgh community," said Criss. "It's definitely more of a community event, probably than most campus performances."

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