Gospel Inspirations Program Notes

Concert sponsors: City of Stockton

National Endowment for the Arts 

Guest artist sponsors: Earl Taylor, MD, and Ms. Etoile Holmes

Guest artist accommodations: Hal and Debbie Lurtsema


Guest Conductor

Damien Sneed




John Wineglass *commissioned by the Stockton Symphony

Anthem of Praise

Richard Smallwood

Secret Place



Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark

God is Here

Israel Houghton and Martha Munizzi



Broken to Minister

Damien Sneed

Worship Medley

Israel Houghton

Every Praise

J. David Bratton/Hezekiah Walker

Take Me to the King

Kirk Franklin

Featured Artists

Damien Sneed

Guest Conductor

As a multi-genre recording artist and instrumentalist, Damien LeChateau Sneed is a pianist, vocalist, organist, composer, conductor, arranger, producer, and arts educator whose work spans multiple genres. He has worked with jazz, classical, pop, and R&B legends, including the late Aretha Franklin and Jessye Norman, Wynton Marsalis, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Ashford & Simpson, Denyce Graves, Lawrence Brownlee, and many others. In addition, Sneed has served as music director for several Grammy Award–winning gospel artists and BET’s hit gospel competition, Sunday Best. Sneed is a 2014 Sphinx Medal of Excellence recipient, a 2020 Dove Award winner, and a 2021 NAACP Image Award winner for his work as a featured producer and writer on the Clark Sisters’ project, The Return.

Sneed recently joined the esteemed faculty of both Howard University and the Juilliard School. His other professional affiliations have included the faculties of Manhattan School of Music, Berklee School of Music, Michigan State University, and New York University. In 2015 he established the Damien Sneed Foundation Performing Arts Institute. Sneed is featured in the award-winning PBS documentary Everyone Has a Place starring Wynton Marsalis, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and Sneed’s own Chorale Le Chateau, which captures Sneed’s journey as musical conductor of the historic tour performances of Marsalis’s Abyssinian Mass.

Some of Sneed’s commissions include Marian’s Song (2019) by Houston Grand Opera about Marian Anderson; the film score for Testament (2021) by Alvin Ailey Dance Theater commemorating the 60th anniversary of Revelations; The Tongue and the Lash (2022) by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (OTSL), imagining a post-debate conversation between James Baldwin and William Buckley; and Treemonisha (2023) also by OTSL, a reimagined adaptation of Scott Joplin’s opera

During the 2022–23 season, Sneed conducted Nathaniel Dett’s Ordering of Moses at Riverside Cathedral with orchestra and Chorale Le Chateau for the Harlem Renaissance centennial and had his LA Philharmonic debut as a vocal soloist in Marsaliss’ All Rise symphony for Hollywood Bowl’s Centennial. He also conducted the Flint Symphony Orchestra for Patti Austin’s final performance and toured Our Song Our Story, incorporating operatic arias, art songs, and spirituals featuring several Metropolitan Opera singers accompanied by the Griot String quartet with Sneed on piano. He was recently signed to Apple Music Classical & Platoon Records (London) with his original classical composition, Sequestered Thoughts, as his first single commissioned by the Library of Congress with Sneed on solo piano.

Darita Seth

choral conductor

Cambodian-American conductor, haute-contre, and composer Darita Seth is director of choral studies and conducting at University of the Pacific. He is serving as the founder, president, and director of Choral Audacity, a Bay Area–based ensemble that focuses on centering the stories of BIPOC and other marginalized communities through choral music. His prior conducting affiliations include St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Long Beach St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Danville, the Danville Girls Chorus, the Cantabella Children’s Chorus, and the Grammy Award–winning Pacific Boychoir Academy. 

Seth holds a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from Capital University’s Conservatory of Music and a Master of Music degree in choral conducting from the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at California State University, Long Beach. Additionally, he is a proud alumnus of the Interlochen Arts Academy and Camp. Seth is an active member of the American Choral Directors Association, National Association of Teachers of Singing, and ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers), and he is a Sigma Alpha Iota distinguished member.

Seth’s voice is praised for its “technical deliciousness; power and precision of the connection between the colors of the voice; and beauty of delivery” (Aspen Music Festival), and he has been featured in performances of choral masterworks including Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Duruflé’s Requiem, and Handel’s Messiah. In 2016 Seth concluded his tenure with Chanticleer, the Grammy Award–winning, San Francisco–based men’s vocal ensemble and is currently singing with the Grammy Award–winning Los Angeles Master Chorale. He has performed in many notable international concert venues including Vienna’s Musikverein, the Liszt Grand Concert Hall in Budapest, Endler Hall in Stellenbosch, the National Concert Hall in Taipei, and the Esplanade in Singapore. His voice has led him to sing under the baton of some of the nation’s leading composers and conductors such as Eric Whitacre, Jake Runestad, Grant Gershon, and Gustavo Dudamel. Most recently, his voice is featured singing Handel’s “Ombra mai fu” in the film score for The Tutor.

As a freelance composer, he is recognized by the National youngARTS Foundation, and continues to write for the Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Choral Series for Choral Audacity. Choral Audacity’s viral performance of his arrangement of “Champa Battambang” has garnered over a million views on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram with the majority of its viewership in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Outside of music and teaching, Darita enjoys cooking meals from his proud Cambodian-American heritage, weightlifting, traveling with his partner, and being a dog-dad to his American Dingo, Remy Martin.

John Wineglass

commissioned composer

John Christopher Wineglass has written scores for shows on MSNBC, CNN, NBC, CBS, and ABC as well as for documentaries aired on Headliners & Legends with Matt Lauer. In addition to scoring for independent films, Wineglass has composed for nationally syndicated commercials for the United States Army, the American Red Cross, and Texacol. Wineglass has received three Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition for a Drama Series, three ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards, and seven Emmy nominations.

As a classical composer, Wineglass has garnered commissions from such renowned institutions as the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music led by Marin Alsop and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, where the Washington Post described his “iridescent colors in the world premiere of a beautifully crafted suite.”

Wineglass’s “iridescent” compositions are inspired by the beauty of creation and the splendor of nature—as well as the desire to bring to light social issues of the past and present. His comissioned works in the 2018–19 season alone included four symphonic works—two with full chorus.  He has received major commissions from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pittsburgh Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Benjamin Harris Memorial Fund, the Heinz Foundation, the Opportunity Fund, and a cadre of private sponsors. 

Between 2021 and 2023 Wineglass made his symphonic debut recordings, released on Navona Records, with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Zabreb Festival Orchestra, the Brno Philharmonie, and the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) at St. Luke’s. The last of these recordings featured his stunning miniiature violin concerto, #elijah, a tribute to not only the life of Elijah Jovan McClain but to the lost lives of many people of color at the hands of those who are entrusted to serve and protect. 

For the Monterey Symphony, where he is composer-in-residence, Winelass composed two pandemic response works—Alone for Solo Violin, Live EFX, and Electronica and Alone Together for Percussion, Harp, and Strings—which have both been curated for the permanent collection of the COVID-19 response art at the Library of Congress. The subsequent film for the first of these, directed by Doug Mueller, has won international acclaim.

Wineglass received his Bachelor of Music degree in music composition with a minor in viola performance at the American University. He earned his master’s degree in music composition with an emphasis in film scoring for motion pictures, television, and multi-media at New York University, studying primarily with Justin Dello-Joio of the Juilliard School.