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Juneteenth: Remembrance and Celebration

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Juneteenth: Remembrance and Celebration, Saturday, June 19, at 7pm on WRKF.

This special program uses music from black American composers to highlight progress and the pain that has been held the community. Using the commemoration of the emancipation of all those who had been enslaved in United States as a starting off point, the special will face our racist past and present in a tapestry of sounds, somber to ecstatic.

Below you will find a list of musical selections you will hear on this program:

Remembrance

William Grant Stills - And They Lynched Him on a Tree: No. 6 They Left Him Hanging (2:04) Choir/Orchestra
This power piece was commission to try and persuade congress to pass an anti-lynching law in the 1940s. One was finally passed in 2022. [VocalEssence Ensemble Singers and Orchestra with conductor Philip Brunell: Clarion 905]

William Grant Stills - Darker America (11:49) Orchestral
Darker America, as its title suggests, is representative of the American Negro. His serious side is presented and is intended to suggest the triumph of a people over their sorrows through fervent prayer. [American Symphony Orchestra with conductor Leon Botstein: ASO 2010]

Margaret Bonds - The Negro Speaks of Rivers (4:31) Vocalist/Piano
The text comes from the poem with the same title by Langston Hughes. It is really about the broader experience of African American life. This when lynching was still legal and the great migration of Blacks from the south to the north. It’s about the uprooting of Blacks from place to place. [Daryl Taylor, tenor; Maria Corley, piano: Naxos 559136]

Undine Smith Moore - Before I'd Be a Slave (3:45) Solo Piano
Here is the poem Undine Moore wrote about this work: “In frustration and chaos of slaves who wish to be free In the depths – a slow and ponderous struggle marked by attempts to escape-anyway-being bound-almost successful attempt at flight Tug of war with the oppressors A measure of freedom won – some upward movement less lacerating Continued aspiration-determination-affirmation.” [Maria Corley, piano: Albany 857]

Celebration

George Walker - Folk Songs for Orchestra I. Going to lay down my sword and shield (4:03)
This is the first movement from Walker’s Folk Songs for Orchestra and his goal was to set these melodies in an interesting way, in a respectful orchestral manner. “Going to lay down my sword and shield” is the second verse from the spiritual “Down by the river side” The idea regardless of if it is spiritual or secular is a pacifistic one. Created before the Civil War. [Cleveland Chamber Orchestra with conductor Edwin London: Albany 270]

Regina Harris Baiocchi - Hold Out for Joy (3:59) Voice, Cello & Piano
Hold Out for Joy is a wonderfully beautiful piece with text based on Psalm 30:5 but it was also from her one- opera Gbeldahoven: No One's Child, written in 1996 about the career of two of the Harlem Renaissance’s timeless poets Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes [Picasso Ensemble: Cambria 1238]

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor - African Suite: (1898) Danse Negre (6:20) Orchestral
This piece has a cool history behind it. We know that Samuel Coleridge-Taylor is African- British not American (his descendants are African American freed by British at the end of the American Revolutionary war) but his African Suite is unique in that he was really influenced by his friend and collaborator African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar who wanted him to focus on his African heritage. [London Symphony Orchestra with conductor Paul Freeman: Sony 86215]

Adolphus Hailstork - Shout for Joy (13:31) Choir & Orchestra (2-3 min)
This piece was commissioned for the 150th Anniversary of the “Bank Street Baptist Church '' in Norfolk Virginia in 1990. It was built in 1802 as a white presbyterian church but was purchased by free blacks to serve as a Baptist church 1840. They have been serving the black community there for more than 180 years. You can hear that love and devotion to service in community in the piece. [The Aeolians with conductor Jason Max Ferdinand: GIA 1087]