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Gospel Christmas 20th Anniversary


Gospel Christmas 20th Anniversary


Friday, December 7, 2018, 7:30 PM
Saturday, December 8, 2018, 7:30 PM
Sunday, December 9, 2018, 4 PM

Arlene Schnitzer Hall
1037 SW Broadway
Portland OR 97205

Gospel Christmas 20th Anniversary

It’s the 20th Anniversary of Gospel Christmas, the tradition that just gets bigger and better, year after year! Join the region’s premier gospel singers and the Oregon Symphony for an evening that’s sure to have you on your feet, clapping and shouting, celebrating the true spirit of the season.  Special Concert

Charles Floyd, conductor
Northwest Community Gospel Chorus
Gary Hemenway,
 music director.


Charles Floyd


 Conductor, pianist, and composer Charles Floyd has been heard in concert with more than 500 orchestras since 1991 in performances including classical music and pops. His eleven-year partnership with singer Natalie Cole included such projects as the multiple Grammy Award-winning tribute to Nat King Cole entitled “Unforgettable, With Love,” the Emmy Award-winning PBS Great Performances concert video of the same title, and the Grammy-winning releases Take a Look and Stardust.

As an annual guest conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra since 1994, his performances have included Gospel Night at Pops at Boston's Symphony Hall, a program that features orchestral classics as well as a 120-voice gospel chorus. He has done similar concerts since 1995 with the Atlanta Symphony, the Akron Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Houston Symphony, and the Saint Louis Symphony with such artists as Micah Stampley, Marvin Winans, CeCe Winans, Edwin Hawkins, Daryl Coley, Oleta Adams, Yolanda Adams, and Patti LaBelle.  Floyd now celebrates 20 years with the Oregon Symphony and Gospel Christmas.

His compositions range from chamber music to large orchestral and vocal works. A tribute to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, One Man's Dream for narrator and orchestra, was commissioned and premiered by the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra in 2001. His Four Spirituals for soprano and orchestra was premiered at Boston’s Symphony Hall with the Boston Pops in 1995, and his oratorio Hosanna for gospel chorus and orchestra premiered there in 2000. Other compositions include a Cello Concerto (2014), a Piano Concerto (2014), a song cycle entitled Song of Solomon (2014), and numerous orchestral adaptations and arrangements.


Northwest Community Gospel Chorus

December 2018 will be the 20th anniversary of Gospel Christmas, a collaboration of the Northwest Community Gospel Chorus and the Oregon Symphony. The first concert was performed in 1999 to high acclaim, and it has evolved over the years as one of the most important holiday traditions in Portland, Oregon. The multi-cultural choir consists of approximately 88 members from 33 houses of faith and organizations in the Portland area and beyond. There are approximately twenty singers who have been choir members for all twenty years.

The rhythm section is comprised of professional, highly talented, and committed musicians. The members of the trio began as local musicians and have since moved to other parts of the country. However, they return to Portland each year to accompany their family and friends in the choir.

The choir’s mission and commitment is to bring a message of faith, hope, love, and joy through the perpetuation of gospel music as an original American art form. The 20th anniversary is the culmination of hard work, dedication, and fellowship. It is a true blessing to have been able to share the Good News with our audiences for these many years and now to have the opportunity to share a 20th-anniversary recording.

The founding members of the choir were Charles Floyd, conductor and orchestrator; Dorothy Davis, a highly-respected leader in the Portland/Vancouver Gospel Music Workshop of America; Terry Davis, music minister at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church; and Susan Nielsen, director of operations for the Oregon Symphony. Terry Davis relocated to Columbus, OH, following the first two years, and the choir was fortunate to have engaged Gary Hemenway to serve as music director, for which he has been dedicated and committed for 18 years.


Gary L. Hemenway

Choral Director

Northwest Community Gospel Chorus

At four years old, Gary Hemenway’s first musical question to his mother was, “when do I get to play piano in church?” Raised in the small town of Pilot Rock in Eastern Oregon, Hemenway’s early interest grew to encompass a wide variety of musical styles. As a pre-teen, he was captured by the sounds of André Crouch and the Disciples, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Chicago, and The Temptations. It was while attending Warner Pacific College in arts-rich Portland, OR, that Gary saw his abilities expand. With a passion for excellence and a love for many styles of music, countless doors have been opened to him.

Hemenway’s diverse abilities have afforded him plentiful opportunities working in the fields of soundtrack, production, direction, composition, arrangement, teaching, work shopping, and live performance work. Hemenway has composed and arranged numerous vocal, choral, and instrumental pieces in every style including classical, film score, gospel, jazz, pop, and rock. His work has appeared in Nike & Avia videos and events, as well as at the World Olympics. His live performance work has taken him throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia.

Amongst his many musical abilities, choral work has become one of his greatest musical strengths. As the music director for the Oregon Symphony’s Northwest Community Gospel Chorus for 18 years, he has enjoyed working with the Grammy-nominated Oregon Symphony. Hemenway also serves as the artistic director for the Walla Walla Choral Society and the director of worship at Walla Walla Presbyterian Church. He enjoys sharing his talent and expertise as a studio music instructor of jazz piano at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA.

His other credits include work with the Heritage Singers, Pink Martini, Will Vinton Studios, George Fox University, and more. His greatest joy has been found in the people that he has worked with. They include Dr. Charles Floyd, Mick Gillette and Lenny Pickett (Tower of Power), Daniel Cox, Tim Ellis, Dr. Dennis Piles, and many others.

The joy of his life, his wife, Clairece, and his three daughters (Sarah, Olivia, and Amelia) are all accomplished artists in their own right.

Earlier Event: December 3
Takács Quartet
Later Event: December 8
Mary Poppins