November 6, 2006: VocalEssence to honor the legacy of Rosa Parks in 2007 WITNESS concert
For Immediate Release
Sunday, February 25, 2007 (4 pm)
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, Saint Paul
Tickets: $20-$35, ticket service charges apply.
To order: 651-224-4222 or visit ordway.org.
Minneapolis (November 6, 2006) – In 1955, Rosa Parks changed American history when she took a stand against racism by refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man, launching the Montgomery Bus Boycott and setting the course of the non-violent U.S. Civil Rights movement. Honoring her legacy, VocalEssence will perform composer Hannibal Lokumbe’s oratorio Dear Mrs. Parks at the 2007 WITNESS concert on Sunday, February 25, 2007 (4 pm) at Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in Saint Paul. To order tickets, call 651-224-4222 or visit ordway.org.
Dear Mrs. Parks is unusual in that the composer wrote both the libretto and the music, phrasing the texts as choral prayers and imaginative letters written to Mrs. Parks. The music incorporates African and African American idioms with strongly percussive elements reminiscent of African drums. The performance will feature the full 130-voice VocalEssence Chorus with orchestra and soloists, including Jevetta Steele, who sang the 2005 world premiere of Dear Mrs. Parks with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and baritone Kevin Deas.
A gifted composer and jazz musician, Hannibal Lokumbe draws inspiration from his Texas origins as well as his experiences living and performing in Africa. He has interpreted the Black experience for more than 25 years with the goal of using his musical talents to tell the truth about the tribulations and the triumphs of life in Black America. His choral and instrumental works honor luminaries like Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, Barbara Jordan and Andrew Young.
In the words of Dear Mrs. Parks, Lokumbe speaks directly to Mrs. Parks: "The light that you are shines unbroken in the lives of those who still live the vision of peace. Always know that I will keep you, and thank you, and honor you by my service."
Building on the theme of social justice, WITNESS will also examine the power of music to bring about positive social change with a selection of American and international freedom songs, including "Oh Freedom," "We Shall Overcome" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic" as well as a movement from "Canto General" by Mikis Theodorakis and the Argentinean protest song "Todavia Cantamos (Still We Sang)" by Victor Heredia.
WITNESS is co-presented by VocalEssence and Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. For additional press information, contact Katryn Conlin (612-547-1459, email@example.com). Images are available for download at https://www.vocalessence.org/news_and_media/news_downloads.php (scroll down to WITNESS).
WITNESS is one of the nation’s premier initiatives communicating our shared American heritage through concerts, recordings and comprehensive educational programs. VocalEssence began WITNESS in 1991 as a concert and educational program to celebrate the contributions of African Americans to the fine arts. Founded in 1969, VocalEssence explores music for voices and instruments under the enthusiastic direction of conductor Philip Brunelle.
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