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SUNY Plattsburgh's Gospel Choir Kicks off Season

PLATTSBURGH (December 3, 2007) - Standing in the front row with waving arms and a red and white holiday dress on her boogying body, a two-year-old danced to the music of SUNY Plattsburgh's Gospel Choir.

An audience of 800 people, including Canadians, Vermonters, residents of New York City, and Jamaicans, attended Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir's "Soulful Christmas Celebration." The crowd consisted of alumni, students and the musicians' families -- all united by a common love of music and dance.

The culmination of hours, nights, and notes gone by, the choir took the stage, wearing black outfits with bright orange tribal-decorated sashes worn around the waist. A distinctive blend of 55 voices shouted out, accompanied by eight instrumentalists, who played songs of endurance, perseverance, and gratitude. 

The show started with director Dr. Dexter Criss' favorite song, "Blessing of Abraham." Criss said he loves this song because it makes the choir sounds so much bigger than it is. 

"The big sound makes the people stand up," the associate professor of chemistry said with a smile. 

The crowd and choir clapped, rocked, danced, and shouted the day away, successfully escaping from the cold, brittle world outside.

"It may be cold and snowing outside, but it's not in here," said Criss. 

The concert ended with Christmas melodies and a costume change into red and black shiny outfits. In between, however, the step team in button-ups and ties pounded out the beat, and praise dancers took the stage in graceful, ballet movements wearing gently flowing white dresses and bare feet.  Then, the Cassarino family graced the stage.  The family, who has performed at Carnegie Hall, sang "I look to the Light."

The choir's music resonated throughout the E. Glenn Glitz Auditorium and continued to resonate through the hearts and minds of the audience well after the show.  Humming, whistling, and thinking of the songs was almost inevitable. 

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