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WITNESS: 14th annual VocalEssence concert honoring the contributions of African Americans to the fine arts
Recorded February 7, 2004

  Undine Smith Moore

Undine Smith Moore

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The Leigh Morris Chorale, directed by Robert L. Morris, joins conductor Philip Brunelle and 100-voice VocalEssence Chorus, soloists and narrator with orchestra for a program with a special focus on the accomplishments of African American women composers.

WITNESS honors the spirit of Undine Smith Moore (1904-1989), a trailblazing woman whose legacy has inspired generations of African American women composers. The granddaughter of slaves, she was born 100 years ago this year. She was the first student to earn a Fisk scholarship to study music at Juilliard, and earned a master's degree at Columbia. She began teaching music at Virginia State University in 1927 and retired 45 years later, mentoring artists such as Billy Taylor and Camilla Williams. WITNESS features Moore's Scenes from the Life of a Martyr, an extended contemplation on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for narrator, chorus and orchestra, with soloists Janice Chandler-Eteme, soprano; Lucia Bradford, mezzo soprano; and William Brown, tenor. (There is a Minnesota connection with Undine Smith Moore; her daughter, Mary Easter, is a professor of dance at Carleton College in Northfield.)

WITNESS begins with a new choral fanfare by Patrice Rushen, commissioned to celebrate the VocalEssence 35th anniversary season. The concert also includes Rushen's "Fanfare et Fantaisie" for orchestra. Four other contemporary women composers are featured: Ysaye M. Barnwell, Lena McLin, Rosephanye Powell and Evelyn Simpson-Curenton.

Patrice Rushen:
Herald the Day
VocalEssence 35th Anniversary Fanfare
  Fanfare et Fantaisie
Lucie Eddie Campbell: Something Within
Ysaye M. Barnwell: Three movements from Truth, pressed to Earth, shall rise
     2. Call to Action
     3. Love
     5. War
Undine Smith Moore:

Scenes from the Life of a Martyr
Janice Chandler-Eteme, soprano; Lucia Bradford, mezzo soprano; William Brown, tenor

Rosephanye Powell: Non nobis, Domine
  Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
VocalEssence Odyssey World Premiere
Lena J. McLin: Down by the river
  Glory, glory, hallelujah
Evelyn Simpson-Curenton: Oh what a beautiful city
  Amazing Grace


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