The Bienen School of Music is continuing its Black Composer Showcase series with three more videos highlighting music by Black composers. The series, which began in 2020-2021, includes performances by Bienen voice and instrumental students as well as scholarly background information on the works and composers provided by Bienen musicologists and conducting faculty.
“The revival of African American composers that we are experiencing right now has in some ways canonized a few pieces and a few composers already. I hope that projects like this whet people's interest in exploring the music of other African American composers,” said Drew Edward Davies, associate professor of musicology, who co-conceived the project with Professor Karen Brunssen in 2020.
Adolphus Hailstork’s powerful American Guernica is the focus of the first video in the 2021-2022 series. Hailstork wrote the piece in remembrance of the September 15, 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The attack killed four girls, ages 11 and 14: Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carol Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley.
“In many ways, this is a commemorative work that looks back in time from a period when supposedly we had moved on in history. But history has shown us how we have not moved on fully,” said Davies.
Professor Mallory Thompson chose to program American Guernica for the Symphonic Wind Ensemble as part of an October 2021 program called “American Perspectives.” That performance is featured along with commentary from Professors Thompson and Davies in the now published video, Black Composer Showcase: American Guernica.