Black Voices, Symphonic Band pay "Tribute to Rosa "
Many months ago, the Purdue Symphonic Band joined forces with the Black Voices of Inspiration from the Purdue Black Cultural Center to plan musical tribute to Rosa Parks on the 50 th anniversary of her courageous decision to sit in the front of the bus - a moment that helped spark the civil rights movement.
Then Parks, 92, passed away, and "we knew this concert was going to be even more special," says Symphonic Band director Jay Gephart of the "Tribute to Rosa" planned for 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20, in the Long Center , 111 N. Sixth St .
Admission is free to the event which marks the first time the Symphonic Band and Black Voices have collaborated on a project. It features Mark Camphouse's "A Movement for Rosa " along with a mixture of spirituals and symphonic band works.
"Our original intent was a tribute to Rosa 's stand on civil rights. Now, with her death, we not only want to recognize that event but create a musical tribute to her entire life," says Gephart.
"A Movement for Rosa ," the concert's signature piece, chronicles the life of Rosa Parks in three sections. "The opening is rather picturesque and tranquil depicting the early years of her life from birth to marriage. The middle portion deals with the strife surrounding her work for social equality and justice," says Gephart.
The haunting theme of "We Shall Overcome" threads through each of the sections but most particularly the work's final moments when it returns to musical themes heard at the beginning of the piece "but with a feeling of strength and serenity," Gephart adds.
The Symphonic Band joins with the Black Voices for John Williams' "Dry Your Tears, Afrika" from the movie Amistad . The lyrics, drawn from a poem of the same name by Bernard Dadie, will be sung in an African dialect. The two groups also present "Five American Gospel Songs," a medley by Luigi Zaninelli which contains bits and pieces of "Amazing Grace, "Give Me That Old-time Religion" and "Eye on the Sparrow." It will be performed by Twana Harris, artist-in-residence at the Black Cultural Center .
The Black Voices' acapella contribution to the "Tribute to Rosa " will be a grouping of negro spiritiuals which highlight the struggle, faith and determination of African Americans throughout history. Two selections, "My Soul's Been Anchored in the Lord" and "Sing Till the Spirit Moves in my Heart," are by famed African-American composer Moses Hogan. They will also sing one of Hall Johnson's most celebrated arrangements, "I've Been 'Buked," as well as the timeless classic "Give Me Jesus," arranged by Harris.
Gephart chose the "Apollo Unleashed" movement from Frank Ticheli's "Symphony No. 2" to end the concert. "To me, Apollo in the title represents the energy and drive for life that Rosa had," he says.
"The interjection of a Bach chorale into the piece provides a sacred undertone that serves as a spiritual anchor. It's meant to drawn attention to the fact that faith played an integral part in the life of Rosa Parks."
Purdue's Fall Concert Band, directed by M.T. "Mo" Trout, will open the concert, performing "Ghost Dance" by African-American composer Quincey Hilliard; "Hopak," a Hungarian dance by David Holsinger; and "The Music Makers" by Alfred Reed, a prominent band composer who died recently.