Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Grand Rapids Symphony Double Bassist Joseph Conyers Joins Atlanta Symphony

On March 25, 2008 AfriClassical posted an item about a bassist in Michigan's Grand Rapids Symphony: “Joseph Conyers, a Bassist '...who plays with authenticity that transcends mere technique.'” We were happy to read about him yesterday:
By Pierre Ruhe
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Monday, January 19, 2009
As the nation takes an unprecedented step toward Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream with racial integration at the White House, the Atlanta Symphony continues to take its own, smaller steps toward that goal. The 17th annual 'A King Celebration' concert —- performed Thursday in Morehouse College’s King International Chapel and broadcast nationally today to an estimated audience of 2.5 million —- celebrated the life and legacy of the civil rights leader.

Yet the significant news onstage came without mention. The orchestra has just hired its second African-American musician, a double bassist named Joseph Conyers. A Savannah native, not yet 30, he comes to the ASO from an orchestra in Michigan. As a section bassist, Conyers’ job here will be to blend in with his colleagues —- even as his presence suggests that, yes, the situation can get better, and likely sooner rather than later. (Unlike political campaigns, orchestras are more or less meritocracies, where candidates audition initially behind a screen.)”

Ulysses Kay’s 1953 'A Lincoln Letter' is a brief, poignant setting of words the president sent a widow who had lost five sons in the Civil War. Morehouse Glee Club director David Morrow coaxed lovely sounds from his a cappella choirs. Morehouse professor Uzee Brown, a bass, sang the solo lines with gravitas. Brown also arranged the evening’s encore: a stirring version of 'We Shall Overcome.'” [Ulysses S. Kay (1917-1995) is profiled at AfriClassical.com]

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