Denison University Orchestra And Gospel Choir Perform Music Of African-American Composers
Posted: November 26, 2001
The Denison University Orchestra and the Gospel Choir will combine for a performance of music by African-American composers. This event, set for 3 p.m. on Sunday (Dec. 2) in Swasey Chapel, is free and open to the public. (Please note that this time is a change from the originally published time of 8 p.m.)
The concert will include two suites from "The American Scene" by William Grant Still performed by the orchestra, traditional gospel selections, and the world premiere of "Declarations of Joy" composed by Leslie Burrs and performed by the combined Orchestra and Gospel Choir.
"The American Scene," composed by Still in 1957, is a collection of five suites, two of which ? "The East" and "The Far West" ? are being performed by the Denison orchestra. Still calls these suites "descriptive suites for young Americans" and each movement represents a different landscape in the country. Still spent his life trying to create friendship and understanding between races through his music and he has endeavored to combine the diversity of American culture into a single voice. Although largely self taught (he spent much of his professional career with W.C. Handy's blues band in Memphis), Still entered Oberlin Conservatory in 1917 and several of his compositions have become standard repertoire among American orchestras.
Burrs' "Declarations of Joy" was commissioned by Denison University specifically for this performance. The three-movement work combines the seemingly opposing musical worlds of a traditional gospel choir and a classical symphony orchestra. Burrs includes explorations into gospel, jazz, classical, and popular idioms. A Philadelphia based composer, Burrs fuses classical, contemporary, and African-American traditions to create a new idiom he defines as Urban Classical Music. Burrs has appeared as a guest soloist and composer with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Baltimore, Atlanta, Louisville, New Jersey, and Richmond symphonies. His critically acclaimed opera, "Vanqui," was commissioned by Opera Columbus and premiered in 1999.
The Denison Orchestra is directed by Assistant Professor Andrew Carlson, who founded it three years ago. Carlson joined Denison's faculty in 1999 He has been a traditional fiddler since age 5, winning the 2000 Ohio Grand Champion Fiddler competition and twice winning the Georgia State Champion Fiddler contests. Carlson earned his bachelor (1992) and master's (1994) degrees at the University of Georgia and his doctorate (1999) from the University of Iowa.
The 115-member Gospel Choir was founded in the spring of 2000 and is directed by Raymond Wise. A graduate of Denison, Wise is the founder and president of Raise Productions, a gospel music production company in Columbus. He serves as an affiliated instructor in the music department at Denison as well as teaching at Ohio State University and the Columbus School for Girls.
Wise has composed more than 490 works and wrote the musical score for "Barefoot," an opera based upon a children's book about the Underground Railroad. He served as musical director for the production by The Children's Theatre Board of Winston Salem (N.C.), with narration by Maya Angelou. He has studied at the Institute for European Studies in Vienna and at San Francisco State University.
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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