Posts

Inspiring Voices

Marlene’s Musings
January, 2014

Inspiring Voices – singer, Bruce Henry and composer, Florence Price

Back in 2003 I heard a podcast of Joe Carter and Krista Tippett (MPR “ON BEING”) talking about the ‘back stories’ for the Negro Spirituals. Normally I do other things while I listen but that day I sat down and listened to the entire show. What intrigued me was how VERY little I knew about those extremely familiar songs. I heard the re-broadcast of that podcast in 2010 after Joe had died and I promised myself I would find a way to get that music and the stories behind the music told to a broader audience.

BruceHenryWebsiteIn Bruce Henry, I found the perfect singer for the concert.

Bruce’s energy is infectious, his range of 3-1/2 octaves amazing and his musicianship truly inventive and engaging. And he is an educator, sharing his thorough knowledge of the history of black music with young people in schools here and in Chicago.

The hidden historical meaning of the texts will fascinate and the wonderful orchestral arrangements created for these concerts by Paul Gericke will surely enhance Bruce’s inspiring renditions.

Florence Price was the first African American woman composer to have a work performed by an American Orchestra (the Chicago Symphony premiered Symphony #1 in 1933). In the spirit of nationalism of the 20s and 30s, Price’s primary goal was to incorporate Negro folk idioms – spirituals, blues and characteristic dance music – into the symphonic form. The symphony achieved wide acclaim, catapulting her onward to write hundreds of other works including 100 songs, many of which were made famous by Marian Anderson and Paul Robeson.

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to conduct Florence Price’s Symphony #1. With the resurgence of interest in her music, a recognized place among the finest American composers is hers.

Events

The WSO Celebrates Black History Month

Our soloist for this program will be Jazz vocalist and African American historian, Bruce Henry. With his help, we will provide a musical overview of the African American musical voice from 1750 – 2020, including symphonies, spirituals, gospel and leading composers of the Harlem Renaissance, Duke Ellington and William Grant Still. We finish with Umoja written by Valerie Coleman, declared Performance Today’s 2020 Classical Woman of the Year.

JOSEPH BOLOGNE CHEVALIER de SAINT-GEORGES: Symphony No. 1 in D major Op. 11

SPIRITUALS and GOSPEL MEDLEY
These songs were the heart-cries of a captive people whose longing for freedom was supported by an abiding faith and an understanding that the worst kind of bondage is what takes place on the inside.

WILLIAM GRANT STILL: Afro-American Symphony

DUKE ELLINGTON/arr. Paul Gericke: “It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Swing”

VALERIE COLEMAN: Umoja, Anthem for Unity

Free, no ticket required. Donations gratefully accepted.
Join us for a reception to meet the musicians following the concert.