Essence of Joy is one of five performing choral ensembles in the Penn State School of Music. Organized in November, 1991 by Anthony Leach, the choir performs sacred and secular music from the African and African American choral traditions. Annual campus events include fall and spring concerts, A Celebration of African American Music Festival, and the seasonal Our Gift in Song concert. The choir involves undergraduate and graduate students from many academic programs at Penn State.

The ensemble has performed throughout the eastern, southern and mid-western regions of America. International tours to Poland, Czech Republic, Spain, France, South African, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan have provided wonderful opportunities to collaborate with other choirs and musical organizations around the globe. Special events for/with the following organizations and individuals have been highlights in our historical journey:

  • Dance Alloy, Pittsburgh, PA 1994
  • Pennsylvania Music Educators Association 1996, 2003, 2010
  • Eastern Division of the Music Educators National Conference 1997, 2009, 2015
  • National Board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People 1999
  • James Weldon Johnson Society, Schomburg Museum, New York City 1999 – 2001
  • American Choral Directors Association National Conventions 1999, 2003, 2005, 2011
  • Riverside Church Theatre, New York City 2001
  • Sweet Honey In the Rock 2002
  • Eastern Division of the American Choral Directors Association 2002, 2006, 2014
  • Music Educators National Conference 2004
  • Alice Tully Hall, NYC 2004
  • Ramsey Lewis 2006
  • Kennedy Center 2008
  • Music From Penn State – The Big Ten Network 2009