The Alamo City Street Choir will return from its pandemic hiatus with a Godspell-themed performance at 2 p.m. on May 15 at the Travis Park Church in downtown San Antonio.
Anyone familiar with the 1970s-era Broadway musical will understand why the song “Beautiful City” inspired the choir’s director, Tracy Bjella Powers, to bring Godspell’s messages of love and peace to her singers, most of whom are experiencing homelessness or struggling to maintain adequate housing.
Come sing me sweet rejoicing
Come sing me love
We’re not afraid of voicing
All the things
We’re dreaming of
Powers said her voice teacher had heard the Street Choir and recommended the song, “and this overwhelming feeling came over me that they should sing … Godspell.”
She praised lyricist Stephen Schwartz for his memorable songs and the simplicity of his message. “It’s love and connection to others,” she said.
The 20-member choir will perform eight songs from the musical, alongside the 20-member Travis Park Church Choir directed by Caroline Collins, four members of the San Antonio Chamber Choir, which sponsors the Street Choir, and professional instrumentalists.
Members of the choir who participated in a 2019 benefit concert for the church were hugely inspired by hearing their voices mingled with those of professionally trained singers, Powers said, and were eager to work together with them again. For Godspell, they’ll be joined by Chamber Choir members Joseph Herron, Jackie Rivera-Bowers, Rob Saldaña and Kay Sherrill.
A prayer group that meets following the choir’s weekly practices inspired Powers to include biblical parables for the performance, acted out by choir members as skits penned by Powers’ 27-year-old daughter Elise, a writer who graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a degree in English.
The parables will include the persistent widow who fights against injustice, the parable of the prodigal son who returns home to his father’s embrace, and the parable of the talents, which offers a lesson in making the best use of what is given.
Hidden talents of Street Choir members emerged through art classes at the church, Powers said, and their work will also be on display for the performance, along with photographs of the choir by San Antonio photographer Ramin Samandari.
The collaboration is part of what makes a beautiful city, Powers said, and she hopes that anyone who attends “will experience a beauty in musicianship, and a beauty in collaboration, and a beauty in effort.”
The Godspell performance is free, but any donations offered by attendees will go to benefit the choir and the Travis Park Youth Group.