Color image of Duke Ellington with images of sheet music on either side of him
Duke Ellington

The Jazz Houston Youth Orchestra will perform Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concert, proclaimed by the Maestro as “The most important thing I have ever done.”

The JHYO, under the direction of Artistic Director and renown trombonist, Vincent Gardner, and phenomenal saxophonist David Caceres will perform Duke Ellington’s masterpiece, “Sacred Concert,” which includes a 40-voice choir made up of singers from St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, located at 3816 Bellaire, 77025, and Fallbrook Church at 12512 Walters Rd., 77014, under the direction of Reneé Rybolt and George Powell respectively.

A group of teens pose with their instruments, surrounding three adults
Jazz Houston Youth Orchestra Credit: Courtesy Jazz Houston Youth Orchestra

Featured soloists on the program are Kenneth Gayle and Belinda Munro, along with tap dancer phenom Alde Lewis.

The concerts will be presented on Duke Ellington’s birthday weekend, April 29 at St. Mark’s and April 30 at Fallbrook Church and are free and open to the public. Both performances begin at 5 p.m.

The Sacred Concerts were born when Grace Cathedral in San Francisco presented its “Festival of Grace,” with a variety of cultural works and speakers, and Ellington’s program as a focal point. The concert premiered on September 16, 1965, and was recorded by KQED, a local public television station.

The performance was released on CD as “A Concert of Sacred Music Live from Grace Cathedral” and on DVD as “Love You Madly/A Concert of Sacred Music at Grace Cathedral.”

The JHYO, made up of students from area high schools, will showcase the talent of its members by performing Ellington’s challenging work.

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St. Mark’s Episcopal Church

“St. Marks has been honored to support the JHYO for the last year and one-half by holding their rehearsals at our church,” said Rev. Patrick J. Miller. “We are excited to partner with them to celebrate and create a sacred event during the season of Easter and honor the birthday of Duke Ellington on April 29. In addition, we look forward to sharing this celebration with Fallbrook Church.”

aerial view of church building under cloudy skies
Fallbrook Church

“I am extremely excited about the JHYO’s upcoming concert here at Fallbrook Church,” Pastor Michael Pender, Sr. stated. “Fallbrook has always been a supporter of the arts and hosting this concert is another opportunity to support our youth here at the church and the youth of our beloved Houston Community. We have already begun to create buzz of the event around here, so the excitement is building! I would absolutely recommend this concert to any parent and youth; I am certain you will enjoy this experience.”

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Aswad WalkerAssociate Editor

I'm originally from Cincinnati. I'm a husband and father to six children. I'm an associate pastor for the Shrine of Black Madonna (Houston). I am a lecturer (adjunct professor) in the University of Houston...