Pastor Jeffrey Neevel of St. Thomas Reformed Church invites the entire community to a Christmas concert orchestrated by esteemed tenor Gylchris Sprauve on Advent Sunday, Dec. 10, at 4 p.m., with a free-will donation.
A native of the Virgin Islands, Sprauve has inspired audiences with his warm, burnished dramatic tenor voice during a fruitful musical career spanning more than two decades, according to a news release announcing the concert.
After completing his studies at the University of Iowa, the University of Maryland and the Hochschule Mozarteum Sommerakademie in Salzburg, Austria, Sprauve embarked upon a singing career that would lead him to Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands and Australia, the release noted. He is also an accomplished pianist, musicologist, composer, music educator and linguist.
This strong commitment to learning has won Sprauve several positive musical experiences including work as a collaborative pianist at the Theatro Municipal of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and as researcher for London-based recording company Opera Rara, Ltd. Sprauve speaks English, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Italian, French, and Virgin Islands Dutch Creole. His linguistic gift has inspired his research in music of composers of African descent throughout the Diaspora, and opened doors for collaborative recital projects with musicians of diverse backgrounds, according to the release.
Among Sprauve’s honors are credits as the first Virgin Islander to have an original composition performed by the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, being dubbed “Maestro” by the 34th Legislature for a life of service in music, and the formal adoption of his centennial anthem, Valiant Virgin Isles, into the code of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Currently, Sprauve is the founder and artistic director of the V.I.-Puerto Rico Friendship Chamber Orchestra, an ensemble committed to providing orchestral performances of the highest quality in the region.
Sprauve is returning to the St. Thomas Reformed sanctuary with the gift of music and all things Christmas with an appreciation in composition of music for Virgin Islands history, the release stated. Under his tutelage, and as a peek into the concert, he will be introducing an old Virgin Islands Dutch Creole Christmas Carol; it is unheard in the islands since the 1800s, a French Caribbean Carol and a traditional English Carol, it said.
The presentation of carols will be sung by a returning set of students with some new additions from the Virgin Islands community. St. Thomas Reformed Church’s Minister of Music, Chanelle Schaffer, is the director of the students for soprano, alto, tenor; voices from ages six to 12.
An honors graduate of Stanford University and the MFA program of San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater, Schaffer has studied vocal improvisation with the legendary Bobby McFerrin and is a former faculty member of colleges and graduate programs including UVI and the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City, according to the release.
She is a member of the American Choral Director’s Association and the National Association of Teachers of Singing.
Schaffer has served as the Minister of Music and Arts at the St. Thomas Reformed Church since 2014.
Additionally, the concert’s performances, in essence, are the unique collaboration of musicians and narrators from the region, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the British Virgin Islands.
Sprauve’s repertoire of concerts has been successful at various denominations in the local church community, and you could say this event is definitely “We from the VI,” the release noted.