The 100-plus member CSO Gospel Choir has a new spin-off. It’s called the CSO Spiritual Ensemble. The aim to use 35 lead singers from the parent organizaton to present smaller, more ambitious concern of traditional African-American spiritual around Charleston and the Lowcountry.

“Artistically, we felt that spirituals was the way to go,” says spokesperson Allison Savicz. “The larger group will perform during the holidays and Palm Sunday and Martin Luther King Jr. Day. But the smaller group is able to travel and sings the music of South Carolina.”

A new director, Nathan Nelson, has been hired to spearhead the effort. Nelson could not be reached by telephone by said in a press release: “The ensemble’s core repertoire will focus on preserving the authenticity of spirituals while integrating classical choral works by African-American composers.”

This would in essence make the CSO Spiritual Ensemble the only local vocal group specializing at least in part in new music.

The group gives its debut performance on Feb. 7 at 4 p.m. at the Mount Zion A.M.E. Church at 5 Glebe St. in downtown Charleston. Tickets are $10. For more information, go to —John Stoehr

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