Sunday, February 4, 2018 Topeka Symphony Orchestra to celebrate Black History Month at upcoming concerts [Includes Music of William Grant Still]

William Grant Still (1895-1978)

By Savannah Maue

Feb. 3, 2018

Black History Month will provide the theme for this year’s School Day Concerts hosted by the Topeka Symphony Orchestra.
Two performances — at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. — are scheduled for children in fifth through eighth grades Thursday, Feb. 8, at the Topeka Performing Arts Center, 214 S.E. 8th Ave.
The symphony will feature music reflecting the achievements and lives of African-Americans. Music from the opera “Porgy and Bess,” which was one of the first pieces of theater written specifically to feature black performers in the leading roles, and music from William Grant Still’s Afro-American Symphony, the first symphony written by an African-American to be performed by major orchestras in the U.S., will be among featured selections.
Students attending the concerts will hear the influence of jazz, blues, spirituals and folk music in these pieces that were intended to bring black culture and arts to concert halls, which for decades had been dominated by white performers, composers and artists.
Guest artist and baritone Richard Todd Payne will sing several American spirituals and deliver a rendition of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, accompanied by the Topeka Symphony Orchestra playing elements of the songs “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” which Mahalia Jackson sang at King’s funeral, and the spiritual “We Shall Overcome.”
Last year, more than 40 schools and nearly 3,000 students attended the free concerts. Reservations are required for non-students. For more information, call (785) 232-2032.
The TSO’s African American Heritage concert will be Saturday, Feb. 10, in White Concert Hall on the Washburn University campus.

The 7:30 p.m. program will be led by music director and conductor Kyle Wiley Pickett.

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