By Charles Petty

A special concert is coming to the Temple Theatre at the end of April – one which highlights musical talent both in the community and from around the country and state, and which aims to celebrate the numerous musical traditions with roots in central North Carolina.

Roots and Branches, set for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 26, will be a first of its kind concert celebrating the past, present, and future of Sanford. Sponsored by the city of Sanford’s Public Arts Program and the Arts Council of Moore County, the concert will feature a mix of bluegrass, choir and choral arrangements from both international and local choral groups. Among those performing will be the W.B. Wicker Elementary School Choir.

Other performers include Chatham County’s The Bluegrass Experience, as well as Roderick Brower and the Together-N-Unity Choir. This choir is based at Fletcher Chapel United Methodist Church in Hoffman, North Carolina. Another major contributing choral group for the concert is the Brooklyn Art Song Society. Based in New York City, the choir has performed across the United States and Europe.

Elizabeth Whitmore, Sanford’s historic preservation planner, has been behind the scenes along with the Sanford City Council and other organizations to help put the event together.

Writer Ray Owen has for the past several years been collaborating with composer David Ludwig of the Bleeding Pines, a choral group that tells the historic story of Helen Boyd Dull of Moore County. Dull in 1904 saved a strand of the Longleaf Pine after encountering workers bleeding the tress of their resin for the turpentine industry. It is through her efforts that the Long Leaf Pine continues to feature prominently in the Sandhills region. The ensemble is operatic in nature but has a North Carolina theme throughout.

“I have known Ray Owen for many years. He is extremely talented and working alongside him for Public Arts Program for the City of Sanford and Arts Council of Moore County (which I am also a member of) is a great honor,” Whitmore said. “Having a joint sponsored concert highlights our region’s unique history, culture, and diverse talent.”

The “roots” of the event represent the strong past of Sanford and its commitment to cultural activities in the state. The “branches” symbolize the many forms of music and art that are growing out from the firm pine foundation of the community. The music will be a mix of Lee County history, African American gospel traditions, bluegrass, and each genre’s unique connection to Sanford.

Whitmore said she’s optimistic about the concert and the way in which the music will impact the community.

“Just like the branches of the Long Leaf Pine, I hope the music will branch out to others and embrace our diverse Sanford and Sandhills community,” she said.

Admission to the concert is free, but attendees must reserve their seats in advance by contacting the Temple Theatre box office at (919) 774-4155. Click here for more information.