The Kennedy Center

WPAS Children of the Gospel Choir


WPAS Children of the Gospel Choir, formed in 1993 through a community-wide audition and recently featured on The Today Show, is an expansion of Washington Performing Arts Society’s continued commitment to gospel music programming.

The objective of the program is to showcase the talents of Washington Metropolitan area youth; provide them with disciplinary and artistic skills toward building their knowledge and technique while preparing for a professional production; and creating an environment that promotes self-confidence, image, motivation, and respect for one's self and others. Some of the renowned gospel artists who have been featured with the choir include: Richard Smallwood, Vickie Winans, Jennifer Holiday, Kim Burrell, Daryl Coley, and Donnie McClurkin.

Some of the most noted Washington-area music directors have worked with the WPAS choirs over the years, such as Evelyn Simpson Curenton, Eleanor Stewart, Alphelius Gatling III, Ricky Payton Sr., Dr. Diane White, Stanley Thurston, Valeria Foster, Dr. Barbara Baker, Joyce Garrett, Kenneth Louis, Thomas Dixon Tyler, Rev Nolan Williams, and Patrick Lundy.

Stanley J. Thurston, Artistic Director of the WPAS’ Gospel Choirs, has received acclaim from music critics such as Washington Post’s Cecelia Porter, as a "stellar performance" of the nearly 300-voice choir under his direction "...performed with one voice, with perfect ensemble, intonation and diction." Subsequent WPAS engagements this season have featured Thurston as conductor with such well-known artists as Soprano, Kathleen Battle; Sweet Honey in the Rock; Canadian Brass; jazz legends Ramsey Lewis & Wynton Marsalis, along with appearances on the NBC Today Show. He has appeared as conductor in concert venues including Carnegie Hall, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall and Millennium Stage, the U.S. Capitol, The Music Center at Strathmore, Carter Barron Amphitheater, DAR Constitution Hall, Arena Stage, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, Washington National Cathedral, and the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Mr. Thurston is well known as a pianist, composer, and arranger. His orchestral arrangements have been performed by the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, New Jersey, and the National Symphony Orchestra. A graduate of The American Academy of Conducting at Aspen, Thurston made his European opera conducting debut in Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata with Romania's Opera Constanta, returning in to conduct Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor the following season. He is the founding Music Director of The Heritage Signature Chorale and currently serves as the Director of Music at Foundry United Methodist Church, Washington, DC.

Watch Past Performances

Video 7/30/2012: Washington Performing Arts Society’s Children of the Gospel

The Summer Vocal Workshop participants showcase the skills they learned during the two-week camp.

Video 12/15/2011: WPAS Children of the Gospel Choir

Bring family and friends to hear the melodic sounds of young artists in a program featuring holiday favorites and other arrangements with a little gospel flair.

WPAS Children of the Gospel Choir