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Performing Arts Series presents A Gospel Celebration, Honors an Art Form with the Power to Uplift

November 2, 2017
Arch Street Presbyterian Church Choir, directed by Dr. J. Donald Dumpson

As the Bryn Mawr College Performing Arts Series continues its season of adventurous, rousing dance, music and theater, expect Goodhart Hall to resound with the joy, sorrow and deep resilience of African-American sacred music during A Gospel Celebration directed by Dr. J. Donald Dumpson, Saturday, December 2, at 8 p.m. in the majestic McPherson Theater Auditorium in Goodhart Hall.  From the soul-infused sounds of the Hammond B3 organ, and the smooth Philly stylings of regional gospel greats, this line-up will raise the roof. For this performance, Dr. J. Donald Dumpson brings the Philadelphia Heritage Chorale together with Serena Blanco and the Gospel Music Preservation Alliance, Waverly Alston in the Company of Friends, and special spirit-stirring soloists.

The sacred music born of the African diaspora is euphoric, rhythmic, and spiritual, Gospel music, as one of its forms, is rooted in the solo and responsive church singing of the African American south. Its development coincided with the development of rhythm and blues. In the last 50 years, the appeal of gospel music has taken it well beyond the black church. The Performing Arts Series’ Gospel Celebration, for people of all ages and creeds, brings the audience on a journey through the music from toe-tapping, hand-clapping gospel to spirituals and classical music. Among the composers whose songs will be featured are Richard Smallwood, Hezekiah Walker, Carol Antrom, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Nathan Carter.

In four distinct segments, this inspiring concert demonstrates the full sweep of gospel music. The Philadelphia Heritage Chorale, founded by Dr. J. Donald Dumpson, presents “From the Plantation to the Concert Hall.” “Traditional Gospel” with The Gospel Music Preservation Alliance features Serena Blanco and other rousing soloists. Waverly Alston in the Company of Friends bring us fully into the sound of gospel today with “Contemporary Gospel Music.” And the show’s finale, “A Jubilant Celebration,” promises to be just that!

Dr. J. Donald Dumpson invites us to “Come, be revived with music for the soul as we bring some of the finest musicians from our region together for Bryn Mawr College’s Gospel Celebration.”

Goodhart Hall, Bryn Mawr College is located at 150 N. Merion Avenue in Bryn Mawr, PA. Flex subscriptions to the remaining series events are $90 each, $75 for seniors. Tickets to individual events are $20, $18 for seniors, $10 for students and Dance Pass holders or members of, and $5 for children under 12. Tickets, subscriptions, group sales and more information are available online through Brown Paper Tickets, at or by calling 610-526-5210.

Dr. J. Donald Dumpson is minister of the arts at Philadelphia’s Arch Street Presbyterian Church. Dumpson has devoted his life to arts ministry, education and performance. He has over 40 years of experience as a conductor/keyboardist, music minister, and events producer. He is president and CEO of Diverse Arts Solutions, a division of J. Donald Dumpson Productions, LLC, as well as the founding director of the Westminster Choir College Jubilee Singers and the Philadelphia Heritage Chorale. Dumpson obtained a bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. in Music Education, all from Temple University. His goal is to help build bridges for creative cultural exchanges through arts ministry and music education.

The Philadelphia Heritage Chorale is a community ensemble made up of professional and amateur singers from the tri-state area. The organization’s goal is to provide a well-prepared group of singers to sing alone or in conjunction with other music and arts events. The ensemble has collaborated on arts presentations with Pope John Francis and the World Meeting of Families, Philadelphia Orchestra, Aretha Franklin, Kathleen Battle, Andreas Bocelli, and others.

Serena Blanco founded the Gospel Music Preservation Alliance, Inc. (GMPA), a non-profit organization, in 1989. GMPA is dedicated to preserving the rich cultural heritage of gospel music and its influences on the music industry past and present. GMPA and Blanco have been the recipients of numerous awards from the City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as well as many civic organizations. Blanco has been honored as an inductee into Philadelphia Gospel Music Association’s Hall of Fame.

Waverly Alston, Jr. is Minister of Music at the Welcome Church. He holds a master’s degree in Biblical Studies and is currently working towards his Ph.D. in Pastoral Counseling. Alston founded Waverly Alston in the Company of Friends to bridge his love for music with his passion for improving people’s quality of life through the sung word. Alston has a special interest in the development of leadership among men and has offered a number of workshops in this area. Along with serving as a director for a men's shelter, Waverly is a dedicated member of the Welcome Church clergy team.         

Since 1984 the Bryn Mawr College Performing Arts Series has presented great artists and performances to Philadelphia-area audiences, creating an environment in which the value of the arts is recognized and celebrated. Providing talks and workshops free to the public to develop arts awareness and literacy, the Bryn Mawr College Performing Arts Series has partnered in recent seasons with such organizations as the Barnes Foundation, Pennsylvania Ballet, Bryn Mawr Film Institute, and FringeArts. The Series has presented performances by such diverse luminaries as Trisha Brown Dance Company, Meredith Monk, John Waters, Jennifer Koh, the Khmer Arts Ensemble of Cambodia, and Urban Bush Women.

The 2017-2018 Bryn Mawr College Performing Arts Series receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

For further event coverage coordination, please contact Phil Sumpter, Freelance Publicist, at or 215.287.1179.

For further institutional information, please contact the Office for the Arts at or 610-526-5210, or visit

A Gospel Celebration directed by Dr. J. Donald Dumpson (Dec 2)