The audience for the Friends of the Arts' Saturday evening Sounds of Joy concert was as diverse as groups that performed for what lived up to its billing as "a gospel celebration in song, dance and art."
An eclectic blend from a robed church choir’s hymns to a Christian rock band’s electric guitar riffs inspired folks ranging from kids to senior citizens. Though only about 75 people attended, the spirit flowed throughout the evening.
"We have definitely heard from different kinds of groups tonight, but it's all for one purpose: the glory of God," emcee Sandra Daggs said near the concert’s conclusion.
"Christ the Redeemer," an Easter cantata performed by St. Mark United Methodist Church’s choir, kicked off the evening. The choir drew nods and appreciative smiles as familiar hymns "The Old Rugged Cross" and "He Arose" weaved into the performance.
Florida Ballet Conservatory members Brittany Swain and Shelley Theiss of The Calling, a local Christian dance troupe, presented graceful interpretations of several praise songs.
"We all go to church to praise the Lord, but to see young people so engaged is just wonderful," Daggs said.
Pianist Pam Meyers provided accompaniment on two numbers for The Wesley Boys, a men’s gospel harmony quartet who got the audience clapping and singing along during its rendition of "I'll Fly Away."
Some members of the crowd sang along with several of The Journey Band's contemporary praise songs, which segued to the closing act, a performance by SALT, a Christian rock band.
"We're going to be a bit louder than the rest," lead singer David Cadenhead said before Tim Rebholz on lead guitar shook the rafters with a heavy electric riff.
Audience members heard music in their favorite genres and were exposed to music that was new, different and, perhaps, a tad outside their comfort zone.
And that's not such a bad thing.
The arts stimulate in all sorts of ways, and woe be to the observer who leaves a concert or exhibition uninspired.
Contact News Bulletin Arts & Entertainment Editor Brian Hughes at 682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.