Sunday, June 15, 2014

Eric Conway: Morgan Choir participates at the Smithsonian for National Flag Day Concert and Ceremony

Eric Conway and Eric Whitacre

Eric Whitacre

Roland Carter and Eric Conway

Eric Conway, D.M.A.:
June 14, 2014, 11:29 p.m.

Today, June 14, 2014, is Flag Day, a national holiday, albeit less celebrated than most other national holidays.  This year's Flag day ceremony was much more notable since we as a country are celebrating the bicentennial anniversary of the composition of our National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key.  The event today was sponsored by both the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington DC, and Smithsonian Museum of American History.  The actual flag that was actually seen by Francis Scott Key is currently housed on display at the Smithsonian Museum for the world to see, on loan from the Maryland Historical Society. This unusual flag, at least from our experience, is seen with 15 stars and 15 stripes, rather than the 13 that we are used to seeing (notice the backdrop in photos attached).  I personally had an opportunity to view this national treasure and was in awe of the incredible magnitude of this relic, i.e. for soldiers to see a flag from miles away, it must be huge, a minor fact that is often overlooked. 

Today, members of the Morgan State Univeristy choir were asked to participate in this national ceremony where there were as many as 450 choristers from 45 of the 50 states participating in this concert.  Performers included a large national choir of ages ten to seventy-five, the United States Air Force Band, Carlene Carter, Singing Sergeants, Folkways (Little Bit a Blues), the Smithsonian Jazz Ensemble, and Kristin Capolino conducted by Colonel Lang from the Air Force Band, Franciso Nunez (conductor of the Young People's Chorus in New York City), and world-famous composer and choral conductor Eric Whitacre all assembled to present a healthy dose of Americana.  

As many of you know, the Morgan State University Choir sings many Eric Whitacre songs.  We were delighted that we could be a part of an event where we could possibly meet him and talk to him about his music.  During the rehearsal at the Kennedy Center, he generously devoted twenty minutes to Q & A about his music and his life.  Eric Whitacre was surprisingly gracious despite his celebrity and almost movie-star looks.  See link below to some of his answers to some very candid questions like: what to you use to get your hair to stay in place?

Our own Governor O'Malley spoke very eloquently at this event.  One of the pieces performed was Roland Carter's arrangement of Lift Every Voice and Sing, re-arranged for Concert Band who was in proudly in attendance. See link to YouTube clip of today's performance of this concert arrangement our Negro National Anthem with this national mass choir.

Many of the Morgan choir members were not enthusiastic about meeting a bus a 6AM on a Saturday morning to get to the Kennedy Center for our dress rehearsal. However at the end of the day, all where pleased to have been a part of this great patriotic event!

Roland Carter's Lift Every Voice

Eric Whitacre Q & A

Eric Conway, D.M.A.
Fine and Performing Arts Department, Chair
Morgan State University

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