Baltimore choir is asked to perform at White House

December 11, 1992|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,Staff Writer

A special song about Baltimore will be sung by a choir of loca college students and church members at tonight's Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the White House.

"Christmas in Baltimore" was written last year by Bill Cummings, who will lead the choir of Coppin State College students and lay members of All Saints Roman Catholic Church.

The song was first performed at last year's City Hall tree lighting ceremony. Now President Bush and several thousand expected at the tree lighting will get to hear it.

"It has to do with Baltimore, so it's special to me," Mr. Cummings said yesterday of the song. "I think that he'll [President Bush] like it. It speaks of the harbor and dressing up and how Christmas trees lighten up the streets of Baltimore."

The 45-minute performance in one of the White House's stately ballrooms will be his second appearance before President Bush this year. The All Saints choir performed at a White House reception for black Republicans in September.

Mr. Cummings has been director of the 50-member choir at All Saints on Liberty Heights Avenue for about 20 years, and musical director of Coppin's 50-member unit for three years. For as long as he's been at All Saints, he's directed choirs in concert halls around the world. Two years ago, the All Saints choir performed for the Pope and 10,000 people in Rome. So performing at the White House isn't too nerve-wracking.

"This is special because it's at the White House, but I'm not nervous and nothing special is planned," said Mr. Cummings.

Still, he and choir members are honored to be performing at the White House.

"It is quite an honor for a church choir," said Delores Addison, who's been with the All Saints choir for 19 years. "We're all lay people of the church, and we've all been together for years. We've sung for millions of people all over the world, but that's different. This is a separate feeling."

Reginald Allen, another longtime choir member, said performing at the White House is good for the city and for All Saints. "I've never even been to the White House on one of their tours," he said. "Performing there just says something for the city."

Mr. Cummings said the White House asked him last month to bring a choir to the tree lighting ceremony.

"At first, they wanted only 20 of us to come there, but I said I had to take more of my strong voices," Mr. Cummings related. A compromise was reached, and 25 to 30 of his "voices" will perform tonight -- five from Coppin and the others from All Saints.

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