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School of Arts and Sciences

A Holiday Performance to Remember

Monday, June 6, 2016

Tufts Third Day Gospel Choir performs at White House celebration

News: Gospel Choir performs at White House

David Coleman (right) and members of Tufts Third Day Gospel Choir with the First Lady Michelle Obama (center).

Universities don't usually choose to advertise large class sizes, but Tufts has always taken pride in its largest course offering: The Third Day Gospel Choir. With over 220 members, it has been a campus favorite since Director David Coleman began leading the choir in 2006.

Coleman and his choral ensemble perform widely beyond Tufts, including performances in Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, and more recently a five-day tour in New Orleans. Back in 2012, Coleman applied for an opportunity for the choir to perform at one of the many events held at the White House.

In November 2014, an official invitation to perform at the White House finally arrived.

On December 3, 20 members of the ensemble traveled to Washington, D.C. to perform at the end-of-the-year holiday party for the White House staff. "Choosing the few who could go was the least enjoyable part of the process," says Coleman. "However, the 20 that were selected worked extra hours to make sure that we represented the choir, the university, and America well when we arrived."

The ensemble performed more than two hours of music featuring a variety of songs in Latin, Hebrew, Swahili, traditional English carols, and of course, lots of gospel.

"The highlight of the evening came when we were taking a break and we learned that we would be allowed to sing a private performance for Michelle Obama," says Coleman.

The ensemble chose to perform Coleman's original arrangement of "He Holds My Hand," which culminates with the performers' hands raised together in unity.

"The closing of the song is a moving statement, not only because we are a diverse choir, but because it is a visual symbol of purpose and service, which are both lessons taught in Gospel Choir, and at Tufts University in general," says Coleman.

The Third Day Gospel Choir performs on campus once a semester. The next concert is Friday, April 10, at 8:00 PM in Cohen Auditorium. Tickets are $7 for general admission seating. Call 617.627.3679 to purchase tickets.

David F. Coleman, Director of the Tufts Third Day Gospel Choir, holds a B.M. in piano performance and composition from Boston University and an M.A. in composition from Tufts University. Also the Director of Choral Music at the Dana Hall School, Coleman has been actively involved in gospel music for more than 25 years. He is the founder of the ensemble Confirmation, which has recorded five CDs of his original work and has been featured in performances worldwide, including Austria, Greece, Italy, Spain, and here at home at the House of Blues, the Wang Center, and Jordan Hall. He has worked with choirs for Bobby McFerrin, Patti Labelle, Phish, and Academy Award Nominee Ryan Gosling. Coleman leads workshops for the American Choral Directors Association, and is the 2007 recipient of the Thomas A. Dorsey Award from the New England Conservatory. In 2013, he was awarded two New England Urban Music Awards for Best Gospel CD and Best Gospel Artist.