2019 Colour of Music Festival at Duke Ellington School of the Arts
Duke Ellington School of the Arts (DESA) joined the Colour of Music Festival in presenting The Colour of Music Festival Petit this past week, while also honoring DESA co-founder Peggy Cooper Cafritz.
The Colour of Music Festival gathers musicians of African ancestry from across the country and around the world. The South Carolina based event traveled to Duke Ellington for two days March 14 and 16.
Even though Black artists are noted as the architects of jazz, gospel and R&B their work in classical music doesn’t receive as much attention. An Artist like African-French composer Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges who was respected and revered overseas doesn’t receive as much recognition in the states. The Colour of Music Festival wants to correct the record.
“Peggy Cooper Cafritz once said ‘the goal for all our students is freedom from limitations,’” DESA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tia Powell Harris said during the first night, which honored the renowned co-founder. She went on to say, “we believe that POC owe it to themselves to become so well educated and so well trained that they will be able to do whatever they damn well please. Not only must they go to college, or conservatory they must become leaders in the art world.’”
“It is particularly fitting that we dedicate this evening’s performance by the Colour of Music Virtuosi all female chamber orchestra to our incomparable co-founder Peggy Cooper Cafritz.”
“These Black female classical musicians embody that dream Peggy had for our children. This is what it looks like to be free from limitations. Were she here with us tonight Peggy would see the present and the future performing on the same stage and together embracing the undeniable fact that her dream has come to fruition,” Harris said.
Other female musicians of color were honored in recognition of National Women’s History Month….. (continued)
A FESTIVAL OF MUSIC: Based in Charleston, SC, The Colour of Music Festival recently mounted performances featuring prominently musicians of color at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, culminating in a performance of the Mozart “Requiem”, in memory of school co-founder Peggy Cooper Cafritz.
There are many opportunities to hear performances of classical music throughout the nation, but the Colour of Music Festival is presenting even greater platforms for artists of color. That was certainly evident at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts where the festival presented a culminating concert in DC, featuring Mozart’s “Requiem.” Probably one of Mozart’s most popular and beloved works, it is one that is performed quite frequently in concert halls around the world. What made this concert very special was the performers used for this special presentation. School CEO Tia Powell-Harris and Artistic Director and founder of the Charleston, SC based Colour of Music Festival Lee Pringle were both on hand to give words of welcome.
Duke Ellington School of the Arts co-founder Peggy Cooper Cafritz, who died last year was known for her love of musical excellence and fostering that spirit among the students at Ellington. Her dream was certainly memorialized as a full student chorus and orchestra rendered one of the staple works of the choral music canon. Prior to the “Requiem” was the rendering of excerpts from Antonin Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor. Conducted by Maestro Isaac Daniel, Jr., who is on the schools faculty, the young instrumentalists shined in selected movements. Of particular note was the sensitive playing featuring the oboe solo in the famous theme often called “Going Home.” The students responded to Daniel with such attentiveness and he in turn guided them towards a shared rewarding experience. A sense of confidence marked these selections, particular in the first and concluding movements.
For the “Requiem” The Duke Ellington School of the Arts Choir joined the orchestra on stage. A cast of acclaimed soloists joined the young performers: soprano Marsha Thompson, mezzo-sopranoLucia Bradford, tenor Chauncey Packer and baritone Kenneth Overton. Maestro Joseph Jones led the combined forces in a masterful performance. The choir was exceptionally prepared and that was especially evident in the fugal sections of the “Kyrie” where the voices entered one after the other with confidence. Strong choral singing from the student choral was on display throughout. In the “Rex Tremendae” there was a feeling of majesty that was communicated by the full resonance of the voices. Then there were more delicate moments for instance in the “Hostias et preces” which showcased the more lyrical legato singing by the choir….. (continued)