Choirs Come Together in Worship, Song

Less than a week after the much-publicized "Does God Exist?" debate, hundreds of Ivy League students dedicated their weekend to answering the question with a resounding affirmative.

Last Saturday night, students from six Ivy League schools assembled at the Mass. Ave. Baptist Church for "10,000 Tongues '99," the first annual Ivy League Gospel Fest.

The free concert, part of a weekend-long gospel conference, was co-sponsored by the Harvard-Radcliffe Black Students Association (BSA) and the Harvard-Radcliffe Kuumba Singers.

According to co-organizer and BSA secretary Alicia E. Johnson '01, about 200 students spent the weekend at a series of educational and social events.

On Friday, choir members met with the board of the NAACP and the Harvard NAACP at the Institute of Politics. They then attended a reception with the pastor from Boston's New Covenant Christian Center, followed by an evening mixer.

Students participated in workshops on Saturday and spent the rest of the day preparing for the evening's concert.

Joined by gospel choirs from Yale, Dartmouth, Columbia, Princeton and Penn, Kuumba led the audience through a rousing three hours of standard gospel music and spiritual affirmation.

Johnson co-organized the concert with Yale student Eyi Taiye Tuakli-Wosornu.

According to Johnson, she and Tuakli-Wosornu wanted to unite a large group of Ivy League students and settled on gospel as one element of students' lives that could bring them together.

Even though Harvard hosts its share of interschool musical gatherings, no one could have mistaken Saturday's concert for a standard Harvard a canella jam.

The Reverend Zina Jaque, who hosted the event, warned spectators at the beginning not to expect a staid, sit-down evening.

"If you wore shoes that hurt, take `em off now!" she cried.

As the Dartmouth choir took the stage and launched into its first song, the audience began clapping along, tapping its feet, and calling out.

Soon much of the room had risen to its feet, swaying to the music and singing along as the floor vibrated beneath them.

Though music formed the backbone of the evening, many students said they had an added reason for participating in the event.

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