On Good Friday, April 14, 2017, 7:30 PM at the historic Abyssinian Baptist Church in the City of New York, jazz pianist/Howard University professor, Cyrus Chestnut, will perform a powerful composition that he especially wrote for the church, entitled “The Saga of the Cross.” This exciting celebration of Good Friday will feature a jazz trio, the Abyssinian Baptist Church choir, conducted by James Davis Jr., and will be narrated by Tavis Smiley. Concert proceeds will benefit the AbyWest campaign for the church’s construction of a new Education and Cultural Center.
Founded in 1808 by free African Americans and Ethiopian merchants living in New York City, The Abyssinian Baptist Church is the oldest African American Baptist church in New York State whose mission has always extended beyond its walls into the vast Harlem and greater New York communities. Abyssinian boasts a long rich history of prolific leadership, and commitment to social justice that serves the needs of both the local and global community. The church’s new Education and Cultural Center will continue to broaden that legacy.
As a composer, Cyrus brings a unique blend of traditional jazz, contemporary jazz, and gospel influences to his pieces. His latest work, African Reflections, also incorporates a new rhythm that inspired him after a recent trip to Senegal. Abyssinian has traditionally included a wide range of genres in its Music Ministry including standard church literature, sacred jazz, hymns, negro spirituals, traditional and contemporary gospel. The Abyssinian Baptist Church choir recently performed a concert at Yale University, and the clips below highlight some of the choir’s diversity.
Cyrus is delighted to be able to contribute to Abyssinian’s mission, especially as his own musical journey began as a child playing piano in the Baptist church of his hometown, Baltimore.
Purchase Tickets for “The Saga of the Cross” at The Abyssinian Baptist Church Bookstore, 132 Odell Clark Place (West 138th Street between Malcolm X Blvd./Lenox Avenue and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.) on Sundays after the 9:00AM and 11:30AM services, and on-line via Eventbrite.
Photo credit (l to r): James Davis Jr and Chester Cyrus.