Tuesday, January 25, 2011

VocalEssence Wins '2011 Joyce Award, Supporting New Work by Composer Hannibal Lokumbe'

[ABOVE: CD Sleeve; BELOW: CD Cover; Hannibal Lokumbe: Dear Mrs. Parks; Janice Chandler-Eteme, Soprano; Jevetta Steele, Mezzo-soprano; Kevin Deas, Bass; Taylor Gardner, Child Soprano; Rackham Symphony Choir and Suzanne Mallare Acton, Chorus Master; Brazeal Dennard Chorale and Dr. Augustus O. Hill, Director; Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Thomas Wilkins, Resident Conductor; Naxos 8.559668 (2009) (59:03)]

The Center for Black Music Research (CBMR) has provided AfriClassical with a press release from VocalEssence:

“MINNEAPOLIS (January 25, 2011) — VocalEssence is proud to announce that it is the recipient of a 2011 Joyce Award. The funding is dedicated to commissioning a new work by Hannibal Lokumbe for the annual WITNESS program. VocalEssence is one of two Minneapolis organizations to receive the award, proudly sharing the distinction with the Children’s Theatre Company. Since 2003, the Joyce Awards program has been the only award exclusively supporting artists of color in major Midwestern cities. This year’s outstanding arts organizations will each receive grants of $50,000 to support new works in dance, music, theater, and visual arts.

“VocalEssence will commission Lokumbe (Dear Mrs. Parks, WITNESS 2007) to create a new musical work for its 2012 WITNESS program. Tentatively titled In the Spirit of Being, the sixty-minute, four-movement piece would be scored for mixed chorus, jazz quintet (trumpet, piano, bass, and African percussion), and female soloist. The four movements will represent the stages of the human experience - birth, struggle, forgiveness/resolution, and peace - as seen through the eyes of the composer. During the performance, movements will be introduced by spiritual leaders from the community. The piece will be premiered in February 2012 at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in Saint Paul.

“'We are honored to have our WITNESS program recognized by the Joyce Awards,' says Artistic Director Philip Brunelle. 'In the Spirit of Being will be an exciting project with Hannibal Lokumbe and we are planning many opportunities for the community to get involved in its evolution.'

“Hannibal Lokumbe is a composer and jazz trumpeter whose career spans more than forty years. After moving to New York in 1970, he spent the next 25 years there playing trumpet and recording with legends such as Gil Evans, Pharoah Sanders, and Elvin Jones. Lokumbe eventually formed his own Sunrise Orchestra, which has toured the world playing in every major music festival from Istanbul to China. He has composed more than 150 works, many of which have historical subjects such as John Brown, Anne Frank, and Rosa Parks. He is the recipient of numerous awards from the Bessie, the National Endowment for the Arts, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

“Called 'one of the irreplaceable music ensembles of our time' by Dana Gioia, past chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, VocalEssence was founded in 1969 by current Artistic Director Philip Brunelle. Recognized internationally for its innovative exploration of music for voices and instruments, the organization presents an engaging collection of concerts featuring the 130-voice VocalEssence Chorus, the 32-voice Ensemble Singers (well known for their appearances on the internationally-distributed radio show A Prairie Home Companion hosted by Garrison Keillor), guest soloists and instrumentalists. In addition to championing lesser-known works of the past, VocalEssence has an unwavering commitment to today’s composers resulting in more than 130 world premieres. VocalEssence has released thirteen commercial recordings, including four WITNESS CDs of music by African American composers and artists available on the Clarion label.

“'We are pleased to recognize the artistry of these talented individuals and the lively organizations that will showcase these works,' stated Ellen S. Alberding, president of the Joyce Foundation. 'On behalf of the Joyce Foundation, we are proud that our Joyce Awards provide a springboard to highlight the vibrant array of artistic talent in the Great Lakes region.'”

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