The Clark Atlanta University Philharmonic Society is a nationally respected choral ensemble that perpetuates a proud century-old tradition of artistic clarity, stylistic authority and brilliant choral tone. The Philharmonic Society includes an international membership of the finest men and women, boasting honor students and student leaders from across the university. Early choral conductors of the Clark experience included Drs. J. DeKoven Killingsworth and Frederick Douglass Hall, among others. Since the early 1990s, the Society has established a stellar reputation under the leadership of its former director, Professor Glynn E. Halsey. It is now poised to build on its rich choral tradition of excellence under the leadership of its current director, Dr. Curtis Everett Powell.
The Society performs the gamut of the choral genre, from major classical literature to popular repertoire. It has a special affinity for performing works drawn from the vast storehouse of the African-American traditions. This includes African Folk songs, spirituals, gospel, jazz, and similar works of African-American composers. It has done special performances in conjunction with such noted figures as Nelson Mandela, Quincy Jones, William Warfield, Roberta Flack, James Moody, Jeffery Osborn, Roy Ayres, and Andrew Young. There have been command performances for the inauguration of the President of Gammon Theological Seminary (now a part of Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta), and before the National Convening Body of the United Methodist Church, the church with which the university maintains an affiliation.
During the 1990’s the Philharmonic Society experienced a formidable list of successes. It appeared with the Louisiana Symphony Orchestra during the 1993-1994 season in a nationally televised performance of African Portraits, an intense, gripping work by Hannibal (formerly known as Hannibal Peterson); it presented five concerts at the world-class Spivey Hall of Clayton State College and University, one which aired on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today;” and it was featured with mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves in a professional CD recording produced by National Public Radio.
More recently, over 4 million viewers saw and heard the Society on “Chasing the Dream: Exploring Black History” on a live CNN web cast. Along with a number of other select choirs from across the country, the Philharmonic Society was heard in New York City at Carnegie Hall in the world premiere performance of The Nativity, a contemporary work by composer Ernestine Robinson.