This event has been designated the Cathryn Berninger Memorial Concert in recognition of her generous gift bequeathed to the BCA.
Additional funding for the concert comes from the Coastal Bend Community Foundation’s Janet Harte Memorial Endowment Fund.
The Chocolate Divas’ program includes classical music combined with gospel, spirituals and down-home storytelling that brings the listener into a world where Mozart, Faure and spirituals can happily share the same stage.
Soprano/storyteller/actress Shiver uses the pure, ringing tones of her singing voice to effectively render the beauty of the African-American spirituals, and her sound operatic training is equally evident in her superb performances of European operatic arias and art songs.
Concert pianist Pace is a passionate musician who dynamically plays the music of the European masters with technical ease and mastery and can just as easily improvise in gospel and other African-American music styles.
The only daughters of Rev. and Mrs. J. D. Shiver from Mobile, Ala., these southern sisters were raised in a musical family where talents were greatly encouraged. One aunt was an opera singer, and their school teacher mother, who sang in the church choir, was a major influence on their lives.
“Her dream was to be a concert pianist,” Shiver states. “At age 13, since there was no piano available in her home, she realized that her hopes were out of reach. But she was determined to have one pianist in her own family.”
To her great pleasure, a pianist and a singer – the Chocolate Divas – emerged.
As children, both girls studied singing, piano, and a myriad of other instruments. Shiver has a master of music degree from the University of Oregon and Pace has a doctor of musical arts degree from Peabody Conservatory of Music.
In addition, they grew up teaching Sunday school, directing choirs and singing and playing solos in church and public concerts. “We learned all the styles, classical, pop, gospel,” Pace says.
A winner of the Madame Rose Vocal Competition, winner of the George Hawkins Playwriting Award and former Miss Alabama and Miss Congeniality with the Miss International Beauty Pageant, Shiver has performed as a singer in opera and musical theater, and as an actress in theater, radio, TV and film.
Shiver’s solo performing credits include approximately 90 performances with the Houston Symphony Orchestra, numerous performances with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Houston Grand Opera, Houston Ebony Opera Guild, Theater Under the Stars, and a host of other symphonies, opera companies and theaters across the United States.
Internationally she has performed in Greenland, Newfoundland, Labrador, Japan, France, Spain, Sweden, Egypt, and Italy at Milan’s renowned opera house, La Scala.
Shiver has taught on the faculty of the University of Texas at Tyler, and is former director of vocal activities at both College of the Mainland and Trinity Valley Community College.
The Chocolate Divas will be accompanied by percussionist David Keepman, Shiver’s husband.
The concert is free to all students through high school age and to CBC students with their student identification cards. Adults who do not hold BCA season tickets will pay $10 at the door.