Friday, June 14, 2024

Gospel choir prepared to bring Christmas spirit

The Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir, along with several local performers, will bring holiday cheer to the Giltz Auditorium this weekend.

The choir is holding a concert Dec. 6 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Giltz Auditorium of Hawkins Hall.

Soulful Christmas will feature the PSUC Gospel Choir with performances from the Cumberland Head Barber Shoppers and The Champlain Valley Irish Dancers.

Associate Professor of chemistry Deter Criss is the artist director of the PSUC Gospel Choir. Criss joined the choir in 1999 and became artistic director in 2001.

Criss said he’s wanted to teach and be involved with a gospel choir for a long time.

“My dream has always been to be a professor who ran the gospel choir,” he said. “Plattsburgh gave me that opportunity.”

Criss said the group has been preparing for the performance since the first Friday of this semester. After Columbus Day break practices are focus primarily on their Christmas performance. The choir, which has around 65 members, practices on Fridays from 5 to 7:30 p.m. and Sundays from 7 to 9 p.m.

Over the Columbus Day break the choir went on tour in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The choir performed at a number of churches and visited Niagara Falls.

For their “Soulful Christmas” event the choir will perform nine selections. Criss said each piece will be between 4 and 5 minutes long.

When choosing the songs, Criss said that sticking to the theme of “Soulful Christmas” and giving an authentic reflection of the season is important.

“We scour the music that’s out there,” he said. “What’s new.What’s a favorite. What’s based out of a Christmas Carol.”

Criss said the group isn’t afraid to take on different renditions of the classics.

“We’re performing Joy to the World but it’s Whitney Houston’s version,” he said.

PSUC sophomore biology major Janelle Burgos joined the gospel choir last year. Burgos said she enjoys the atmosphere of practices.She said the choir encourages each member to express themselves openly.

“It is acknowledged and appreciated when you sing freely,” Burgos said.

Burgos said that the group is welcoming and each member feels as if their voice is truly heard. She said the group is organized and extremely focused.

“We know where we’re going and how we’re going to get there,” Burgos said.

Burgos said that sharing the choir’s purpose and ideas is what she’s most excited for about the upcoming performance.

“It’s okay to be sad, but there’s time to be happy,” she said. “We’re here to spread that message.”

Burgos hopes the selections chosen for this show will stand out and strongly display their purpose.

Dancers from the Champlain Valley will take the stage during the event.

The dancers captured Criss’s attention after seeing them perform at a charity event, then at Harlem Globetrotters game in Lake Placid.

“After that I said we need to get them on board,” he said.

The choir will perform a combined acapella piece titled “Have You Heard About the Baby” with the Cumberland Head Barber Shoppers, a men’s group with 15-20 members.

Criss has been rehearsing with the Barber Shoppers on Thursday nights.

The choir has an 8 member band that accompanies them during performances.

“They’re like a mini orchestra,” Criss said.

PSUC senior biology major Adrianne Charles has been involved with the choir since 2012. After seeing the choir perform at a 9/11 memorial service Charles became a very active member of the choir.

Charles is the current president and praise dance leader for the choir. She said that as president her responsibilities for the show have been, reminding member to spread the word and sell tickets, creating a press release and promoting positive attitudes and keeping member excited.

“Getting the choir pumped and being the spirit for the choir is important,” Charlevs said.

She said the dances that the choir will perform is the most exciting aspect for her. She was involved with choreographing last year, but this year, she choreographed the entire routine by herself.

“I really like to watch the progress of my dancers,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed some of the song selection that were chosen this year.”

Charles said that her favorite song selection for this years show is “Come let us adore him.”

Doors open at 3:30 p.m. There will also be a pre-show performance by the Plattsburgh High School Jazz band.

Students can purchase tickets for $5 in advance or $8 at the door. General Admission is $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Children 5 & under are free.

Tickets are available at the Angell College Center, Advance Music Center in Burlington, Christan Supply Center at First Assembly of God and the Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir office, room 133 in Hawkins Hall. Tickets are also available online at

Email Madison Winters at

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