Saturday, October 6, 2012

A CELEBRATION OF MUSIC: Roger Donald Dickerson Composed 'For the Love of Jesus' to honor the memory of Henriette Delille

Roger Donald Dickerson

Our introduction to the music of composer Roger Dickerson was his composition Essay for Band, on the CD Out of the Depths: Music by African-American Composers; Citadel 88143 (2003).  On November 7, 2011 AfriClassical posted: "The 'Hindemithian' sound of 'Essay for Band' seems to come by way of Dickerson's teacher at Indiana." 

About The Composer: Roger Donald Dickerson

Roger Dickerson's musical quest began as a boy involved in formal piano lessons while listening, at the same time, to music in the streets of New Orleans. The two musical traditions easily embraced within him. Dickerson's interests and musical studies have taken him throughout America, to Europe, the Middle East and China. Over the years, he has won high praise for his widely performed compositions from performers, conductors and leading music critics alike He was the recipient, in 2008, of a Lifetime Achievement Award presented at the Annual Classical Music Awards Tribute of New Orleans’ Gambit Magazine.

As a Hurricane Katrina evacuee from New Orleans, Dickerson landed in Roswell, New Mexico and became the inspiration for a world class festival. The Pecos Valley Jazz and Arts Festival—founded in 2006, and since renamed the ROSWELL JAZZ FESTIVAL—commissioned Dickerson’s A Flower Blooms in the Desert. The work, written in 2007 for members of three Roswell church choirs, received three memorable premiere performances, in three different locations--on the same day during the festival.

Pulitzer Nominations were received by Dickerson for both his A Musical Service for Louis (a Requiem for Louis Armstrong), 1972, and his New Orleans Concerto for piano and orchestra in 1976. These commissioned works were premiered under the baton of Werner Torkanowsky conducting the New Orleans Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. The composer became the subject of a sixty minute documentary film, New Orleans Concerto, which was made a PBS Special for national television.

Dickerson, a native New Orleanian, earned a BA degree (cum laude) in music from Dillard University, an MM degree in music composition from Indiana University and studied composition on two Fulbright Fellowships at the Akademie fuer Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Vienna, Austria. He has been the recipient of numerous commissions and awards. A retired university professor, Dickerson has served as Program Associate in Humanities with the Institute for Services to Education, Inc. (Washington, D.C.), Adjunct Professor for composition and orchestration at Xavier University, Lecturer of Music at Dillard University and as University Choir Director, and Music Coordinator, at Southern University at New Orleans. In recent years, Dickerson--as an associate in composition--has worked with Thelonius Monk Institute students at Loyola University of New Orleans. Presently, the music for Dickerson's musical, PREACHER MAN! PREACHER MAN!, with playwright John O’Neal, is nearing completion. The work, a full-evening musical comedy, is firmly set in 1948 New Orleans. Having been in progress over the years, composer Dickerson is pleased with the outcome of this full length work. The book and musical score are both deeply rooted in the culture and traditions of New Orleans.

About The Composition

In the Fall of 2001, the creation of an art song to honor the memory of Henriette Delille was set in motion by an inspired request from Ms. Veronica Lee, Associate of Sisters of the Holy Family. The work, for high voice and piano, immediately became--even before its completion--a powerful source of inspiration vividly indicating other musical versions of itself. The versions all seem to demand realities of their own, requiring musical forms appropriate to their expression. For the Love of Jesus was premiered June, 2002 in the Chapel at the Mother House of the Sisters of the Holy Family by soprano Shirley Adelia Stewart with composer Dickerson at the piano.

Mother Henriette Delille (1812-1862), who is Foundress of the Sisters of The Holy Family, has since been declared Venerable by Rome toward Sainthood. Her cause is in the canonization process at the Vatican.

The second emerging version of For the Love of Jesus easily took shape. The expression fully declared itself through the medium of the symphony orchestra accompanying the solo soprano voice. World premiere performances of this version were programmed February 17, 18, 2007 by the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra of North Carolina with soprano Joy Murrell and Steven Errante, conductor of the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra.

Newest of the musical versions--and the third score spawn in the For The Love of Jesus series—is a setting of the composition for concert choir (SATB) with piano accompaniment. Here, the musical expression has found portals of release provided by the mixed choral voices—and by expansion of the text within itself. The numerous voices now allow harmonic and rhythmic treatment of the vocal line not possible—at all—in earlier versions featuring a single solo voice. This choral version has clearly demanded its own reality. It also quietly declares that a simplified version, of itself, is now necessary—a version designed for young school choirs.

Roger Dickerson anticipates, looking forward, that the concert choir version of his composition will be utilized in Henriette Delille's beatification mass--when that time arrives.

Comment by email:
Hello Mr. Zick, THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!!!!!  I truly appreciate your confidence and support!!!!  God bless,  Val  [Valerie Anne Jones Francis]


John Malveaux said...

Thank you Mr. Dickerson for being inspired by Sister Henriette Delille.

John Malveaux said...

where may MusicUNTOLD obtain the score for voice and piano of FOR THE LOVE OF JESUS