LSO hires gospel conductor

LSO hires gospel conductor


norman lebrecht

January 23, 2020

Press release:

On Sunday 1 March 2020, leading American gospel music specialist André J Thomas will conduct the London Symphony Orchestra in their first ever full concert of gospel symphonic music. The evening will bring together the full orchestra, a 400-strong choir comprising the London Adventist Chorale, with LSO Community Choir, Hannah Brine Choirs, Hackney Empire Community Choir, and Milton Keynes Community Choir with guest soloists, NaGuanda Nobles (soprano), Jason Dungee (tenor) and Brandon Boyd (piano).

André J Thomas said: “This concert brings together two forms of music that are indigenous to African Americans: the slave song as spiritual and the gospel song which came after emancipation and grew out of the spiritual. Now we’re putting that in symphonic setting, with full orchestra and choir. This is music of the soul, of a people who were so close to music. It’s music about their lives. As Africans, that’s a crucial part of our expression – in the African village everyone dances and sings. That extended itself to the time of slavery; add the religious element on top, and it creates something incredibly powerful.

Kathryn McDowell, Managing Director of the LSO added: “Every year LSO Sing, the umbrella title for our range of singing projects for vocal enthusiasts of all ages, gets stronger and stronger, with an ever-broadening repertoire. For our Christmas Concert in 2018 we added a gospel element, and received such a wonderful warm response from our audiences and had a great time performing the music that the Orchestra decided it was time to present a full evening with gospel music at the heart. I am delighted that this has come to fruition. It’s a pleasure to welcome André J Thomas to conduct, and a thrill that on stage we have the wonderful London Adventist Chorale under the leadership of Ken Burton, and most of all, that we will be bringing together four community choirs to raise the roof of the Barbican Hall.”

The programme for the evening will be in two parts: opening the evening will be selection of well-known and less familiar spirituals, with André J Thomas’ own composition Gospel Mass – A Celebration of Love and Joy forming the second part of the evening. 



  • Calvin says:

    Maybe he can do Tippitt’s great A Child of our Time. Nobody has gotten the rhythms and spirit quite right since Andre Previn’s long lost RPO recording.

  • Ira Spaulding says:

    Congratulations to DR. Thomas who is not only “a gospel conductor” (not that there would be anything wrong with that if he were), but an excellent retired professor of choral conducting from Florida where he headed the graduate choral program, who has many years of experience conducting all forms of choral music. Don’t assume that he is a specialist in gospel music because he is a Black American, he is a specialist in whatever he conducts!

    • In the know says:

      This. Dr. Thomas is widely recognized as one of the foremost leaders of choral music in the world. The fine people of London will be in for a treat.

  • Fan says:

    This will be great. The Carnegie spiritual concert with Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle is phenomenal; pity the video was not released on DVD and probably will not be released.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Sounds like a great event! I wish I could be there!

  • Enquiring Mind says:

    Is there a demand for gospel music in London? There must be a backstory here.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Wow sounds great wish I could be there. Good old LSO.