American Spiritual Ensemble to Perform a FREE Concert at the Sarasota Opera House, Saturday, September 6th at 7pm; Concert will be a “Celebration of Life” in Honor of William E. Schmidt

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The American Spiritual Ensemble to Perform a Free Concert at the Sarasota Opera House


Concert will be a “Celebration of Life” in Honor of William E. Schmidt


Sarasota, FL – The critically acclaimed American Spiritual Ensemble will return to the William E. Schmidt Opera Theatre at the Sarasota Opera House on Saturday, September 6th at 7pm for a one night only performance celebrating the life of William E. Schmidt. The concert will be free and open to the public.


The American Spiritual Ensemble under the direction of founder and conductor Dr. Everett McCorvey thrilled Sarasota audiences in 2010 with a program of music that ranged from spirituals to classical to Broadway and dance.




William Schmidt, who passed away on August 16th, was a successful real estate developer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He believed in helping people and the goodness of mankind. In addition to the countless organizations he supported through his foundation, he founded the William E. Schmidt Youth Vocal Competition. For over 29 years, William and his wife Casiana have supported the vocal talents of thousands of young singers from all over the United States with monetary prizes and scholarships.


William and Casiana Schmidt


“Bill and Casiana have been wonderful friends and generous supporters of Sarasota Opera ,” says Richard Russell, Executive Director of Sarasota Opera. “Bill was a former member of our Board of Trustees and his cheerful presence will be greatly missed by all of us. It is fitting that the American Spiritual Ensemble, a group that Bill generously supported, performs a tribute concert to him in the theater that bears Bill’s name.”


Founded in 1995, the American Spiritual Ensemble’s mission is to keep the American Negro Spiritual alive. Members of the ensemble have sung in theaters and opera houses around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and abroad in Italy, Germany, Britain, Scotland, Spain, and Japan. Dr. McCorvey holds an endowed professorship in voice and is director of opera at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY. In addition to performing in venues around the world, The Spiritual Ensemble has recorded four CDs and is featured in the 2007 PBS documentary “The Spirituals.”


What:                  The American Spiritual Ensemble Perform in Sarasota
When:                  Saturday, September 6 at 7pm

Where:                William E. Schmidt Opera Theatre, Sarasota Opera House

61 N. Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34236

Cost:                     Free and Open to the Public



For more information, please call the Sarasota Opera Box Office at (941) 328-1300.



Based in Florida’s beautiful Gulf Coast, Sarasota Opera is approaching its 55th consecutive season.  In 1960, the company began presenting chamber-sized repertoire in the historic 320-seat Asolo Theater on the grounds of Sarasota’s Ringling Museum of Art. Recognizing the need for a theater more conducive to opera, the company purchased the former A.B. Edwards Theater in downtown Sarasota in 1979 and first performing in it in 1984 as the Sarasota Opera House. The theater underwent a $20-million renovation and rehabilitation enhancing audience amenities, while updating the technical facilities including increasing the size of the orchestra pit. The theater, which reopened in March 2008, has been called “one of America’s finest venues for opera” by Musical America.


Since 1983 the company has been under the artistic leadership of Victor DeRenzi. Since then the company has garnered international attention with its Masterwork Revivals Series, which presents neglected works of artistic merit, as well as the Verdi Cycle producing the complete works of Giuseppe Verdi. Recognizing the importance of training, Maestro DeRenzi founded the Apprentice Artist and Studio Artist programs. Sarasota Opera also maintains a commitment to education through its Invitation to Opera performances for local schools and the unique Sarasota Youth Opera program.


Sarasota Opera is sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Programs are supported in part by an award the Tourist Development Tax through the Board of County Commissioners, the Tourist Development Council and the Sarasota County Arts Council. Additional funding is provided by the City of Sarasota and the County of Sarasota.

Sarasota Opera

61 N. Pineapple Avenue

Sarasota, FL 34236

(941) 366-8450


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