Gosepl singer Karen Clark Sheard sings at the DuSable Museum in Chicago. Photo by Raymond Boyd/Wikimedia Commons.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will host its first-ever GospelFest next month, featuring two days of performances with gospel music artists and choirs.

The concert festival will be held April 28 and 29 at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.

BSO Associate Conductor Jonathan Rush, who created the orchestra’s inaugural gospel festival, said gospel music speaks to listeners around the world, and its messages come at a time when they are most needed.

“Gospel music is a global language that provides the uplifting and inspiration that many of us could use now more than ever,” Rush said in a statement. “GospelFest is sure to be a great gathering that highlights the talent of beloved and emerging vocal performers and the remarkable versatility of our Orchestra musicians.

Gospel singer Karen Clark Sheard will headline the festival, accompanying the BSO for a performance under BSO Associate Conductor Jonathan Rush on April 29.

Sheard sang with her four sisters – Jacky, Denise, Elbernita, and Dorinda – as part of the American gospel group The Clark Sisters. The sisters and their vocal group were the subject of a 2020 biopic titled “The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel.”

“We’re fortunate to witness Karen Clarke Sheard’s artistry in person and we can’t wait to join both new and experienced Orchestra attendees together for this event,” Rush said.

The first day of the festival, April 28, will include performances by Nadja Scott & Divine Anointing Choir and The Jonathan Pettus Chorale. The BSO will also perform a new work by American composer Adolphus Hailstork as well as selections from “Too Hot to Handel,” a reimagining of German composer George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah.”

In addition to Sheard, the festival’s second day will feature performances by the Morgan State University Concert Choir and the Howard Gospel Choir.

Audience members can purchase tickets for individual concerts, or packaged deals at a 20% discount. Children ages 7-17 can attend the festival for free with a paying adult. Attendees should reserve spots in advance, by phone or in person. Tickets are available for purchase on the BSO’s website.

Marcus Dieterle is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. He returned to Baltimore in 2020 after working as the deputy editor of the Cecil Whig newspaper in Elkton, Md. He can be reached at marcus@baltimorefishbowl.com...