December 12, 2014

PHOTOS: Student captures Essence of Joy

Essence of Joy performs "Babethandaza" at the Mosaic concert on Dec. 7 at Eisenhower Auditorium. (Photo by Alexandra Zortman)

Introductory photojournalism student Alexandra Zortman focused on Essence of Joy, a choral ensemble in Penn State's School of Music, for a class assignment at the end of the semester.

Essence of Joy, which will performs African/African American sacred and secular music, will present the "Our Gift of Giving" concert at 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 12, at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel. Tickets for the event cost $25 for adults and $5 for Penn State students and children. More info:

Involving undergraduate and graduate students from all academic programs at Penn State, Essence of Joy has performed throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Georgia, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, North Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee, Ohio and Illinois.

The choir has been invited to perform for conferences of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (1995, 1997, 2003), the eastern division of the Music Educators National Conference (1997), the eastern division of the American Choral Directors Association (2002, 2006, 2014), the national American Choral Directors Association (1999, 2003, 2005, 2011), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (2000). In addition, they have presented concerts at the Schomburg Museum of Black American Culture in New York City (1998, 1999, 2001).

The choir has released four compact discs: "The Soul and Spirit of Essence" (1998), "Essence 'Live'" (2000), "Lift Every Voice and Sing", and "The Light" (2003). The choir made its first European tour in 2001 with concert performances in Poland and the Czech Republic. Recent tours have taken Essence of Joy members to South Africa, Taiwan, Korea, Spain, and France.

Essence of Joy performs "Babethandaza" at the Mosaic concert on Dec. 7 at Eisenhower Auditorium. (Photo by Alexandra Zortman) Dr. Anthony Leach conducts an Essence of Joy rehearsal. Dr. Leach is a professor of music and music education at Penn State, and the director and founder of Essence of Joy. (Photo by Alexandra Zortman) Choir member, Maya Kouassi, 21, rehearses a piece from Winterfest 2014. (Photo by Alexandra Zortman) Choir member Eva Swanson is an undergraduate student from State College. (Photo by Alexandra Zortman) Members of Essence of Joy sit and listen as another act rehearses. Essence of Joy is one of 10 choral ensembles in the School of Music. (Photo by Alexandra Zortman) Choir Members Lashawn Williams (left) and Taylor Baum participate in a rehearsal. (Photo by Alexandra Zortman)