The Charleston Symphony Orchestra Spiritual Ensemble will perform a free concert at Circular Congregation Church Sun. June 28 in honor of the tenth anniversary of the historical enactment of the “spiritual” as South Carolina’s official music. The evening will also pay homage to Charleston blacksmith Philip Simmons, who died last Monday night at the age of 97.

On July 1, 1999, the S.C. Legislature ratified the “spiritual” as the state of South Carolina’s official music due to its origins along the coastal regions of South Carolina during the slave trade. Approximately three out of four enslaved Africans came to America through the port city of Charleston, which reached a black majority by the late 18th century. Even after the foreign slave trade was abolished in 1808, American-born slaves continued to be bought and sold here until the Civil War. The “spiritual” was passed down orally over many years and was finally committed to writing by a freed black woman and a white Union Army officer during the Civil War.

The CSO Spiritual Ensemble is made up of 35 members of the CSO Gospel Choir. With a focus on African-American spirituals, the ensemble made a name for itself after debuting to sold-out crowds at both its February opener and during Spoleto 2009. Call (843) 577-6400 for more information.

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