Korea Children’s Choir dazzles at Porter Sanford Center

Jennifer Ffrench-Parker | 3/7/2014, 6 a.m.
The invitation was last-minute, but the experience was priceless. Sylvia Lott of Lithonia didn’t know what to expect when she ...
The FEBC Korea Children’s Choir mesmerized the audience at a free concert on March 6 at the Porter Sanford III Performing Arts Center in Decatur. Photo by Jennifer Ffrench-Parker

The invitation was last-minute, but the experience was priceless.

Sylvia Lott of Lithonia didn’t know what to expect when she heard that the FEBC Korea Children’s Choir was appearing at the Porter Sanford III Performing Arts Center on Thursday, but she went along for the ride.

And what a treat she and her friends got.

The handful of mostly elderly people in the audience used superlatives such as “awesome, fabulous and fantastic” to describe the free concert.

The children mesmerized them with their renditions of familiar Christian hymns, Negro spirituals and other songs in English. Their beautiful voices, their graceful movements, and their colorful costumes elicited applause and even crowd participation.

The hour-long concert included “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” “When the Saints Go Marching In,” and “It’s a Small World.”

Near the end, the children descended from the stage to go row by row to hug members of the audience and whisper “God bless you” to them.

Lott, who came with a few friends from the Bruce Street Senior Center in Lithonia, was among those beaming when it ended.

“It was excellent,” she said. “Everything was perfect – the singing, the dancing and the colors.”

Sally Allen, also from Lithonia, said the performance was just beautiful.

“We enjoyed it very much,” she said.

The 40 children, ages 9 to 13, are on a weeklong U.S. tour with stops in California, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. They arrived in the United States on Feb. 26 and will return home March 9.

Larry Johnson

Larry Johnson

District 3 Commissioner Larry Johnson invited them to perform in South DeKalb on the spur of the moment and said their performance was “just lovely.”

He tried to get schoolchildren from the Greenforest Academy across the street to join them, but the notice was too short.

But members of Lou Walker Senior Center, the DeKalb-Atlanta Senior Center on Warren Street, and the South DeKalb and Bruce Street senior centers were able to make it, along with some members of the Atlanta Korean Association.

Even though there were many empty seats in the 250-seat theater, the audience was enthusiastic and appreciative.

Perri Hudson from the South DeKalb Senior Center called the children’s performance “glorious.”

“It blessed my soul,” she said.

Patricia Garner, who came with a small group from the DeKalb-Atlanta Senior Center, said she was glad she was able to make the trip.

“It was awesome,” she said. “The singing, the dancing, all of it.”

Billy Kim

Billy Kim

Dr. Billy Kim, chairman of the Far East Broadcasting Co., a Christian AM and FM broadcasting company that reaches 1.7 million radio listeners, said the children’s choir is one of 11 in Korea that travel the world as singing missionaries.

“Every year we bring the children’s choir to say thanks to Americans for the U.S. soldiers that defended us against aggression,” said Kim, who is also a minister with the Central Baptist Church in Seoul.

The choir members are in grades three to eight. Kim said their schools gave permission for them to make the goodwill trip. While in the United States, they performed mostly at schools and churches. Kim said the children’s parents paid for them to make the trip.

On their Atlanta stop, they performed in Alpharetta, at Chick-fil-A headquarters in Atlanta, and on March 6 after their appearance at Porter Sanford Center, they were performing at the Korea Servant Church in Lawrenceville. They also made stops in Augusta.

From Atlanta, they were headed to Florida before flying back home.

Johnson said that he plans to invite the choir back to perform next year.

“We will have more time to pack the house,” he promised