Atlanta Music Festival Concert – Sunday, November 11
African American Concert Music with Dwight Andrews
Emory University, Atlanta’s First Congregational Church, and Meridian Herald present the 2012 Atlanta Music Festival Concert : Songs of Aspiration, Hope and Progress, November 11, 4:00 PM in the sanctuary of First Congregational Church, 105 Courtland Street NE. This concert tradition was begun over a century ago by First Church in their effort to unite Atlantans with what was then known as the “Atlanta Colored Music Festival.”
This year’s concert will feature performances by spinto tenor Timothy B. Miller, the First Church Chancel Choir directed by Norma Raybon, and the Meridian Chorale and soloists. Dwight Andrews is Artistic Director and Steven Darsey is Music Director.
The concert will include works by composer T. J. Anderson. Famous for his orchestration of the Scott Joplin opera, Treemonisha, Anderson has written notable works in most classical forms, including opera, symphony, and ballet. A former composer in residence with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, he has recently moved to Atlanta and will be present at the concert.
Timothy B. Miller is well known to Atlanta audiences for his performances in opera, oratorio, and churches. On the voice faculty of Morehouse College, he is also featured soloist for the Atlanta Braves home games.
“The Atlanta Music Festival is a wonderful opportunity to reconnect an important musical expression with its original meaning and context,” says Emory music professor and Dwight Andrews, who also is pastor of First Congregational Church.
Admission is free. An offering will be taken to benefit the Atlanta Music Festival.
For more information, please see www.meridianherald.org
Dwight Andrews, Indra Thomas, Todd Skrabanek, Norma Raybon, Steven Darsey and David Morrow receive applause at the 2011 Atlanta Music Festival.
Roots in Atlanta’s Civil Rights History
In the wake of Atlanta’s race riots in 1906, First Congregational Church instituted programs to improve the prospects of black communities and to encourage racial harmony. In 1910, they established the Atlanta Colored Music Festival to celebrate African American music and, though blacks had been refused admittance to Atlanta's opera week, to invite the white community to experience the high cultural attainments of African Americans. Concert planners brought in performers of international stature, including singer-composer Harry T. Burleigh, soprano Anita Patti Brown, concert violinist Joseph Douglas, and the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Proctor and First Church's initiatives, together with those of other black and white leaders, were the first steps in creating avenues for discourse that five decades later would help Atlanta shed the legacy of Jim Crow.
“The festival is a magnificent story of racial progress that came out of a dark moment more than a century ago,” says Andrews. “Members of the congregation didn’t stop with being rejected and turned the situation into an invitation for all to hear African American music. The concert was one of those bright spots at a dark time when Atlanta was still faced with division, hatred and violence in the wake of the race riots.”
Andrews revived his congregation’s music festival tradition 10 years ago through collaborations with Meridian Herald, a nonprofit supporting the Meridian Chorale led by AMF music director Steven Darsey, music director for Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church on the Emory campus. Through their work with the AMF, they have sought to preserve and celebrate African American concert music and to increase understanding among races and faiths through the power of music.
“Magnificent music with particular ties to Atlanta’s civil rights history are what drew me to the Atlanta Music Festival several years ago. We are delighted Emory has partnered with Meridian Herald and First Congregational Church to increase the national stature of this unique event, and, most importantly, the involvement of the entire Atlanta community,” says Jane Thorpe, chair of the steering committee of the Atlanta Music Festival and chair of the Meridian Herald Board.
Although Emory College was still in Oxford when the first “Atlanta Colored Music Festival” was launched in 1910, that festival and the current one “resonate with Emory’s aim to engage fully with our larger community,” says Gary Hauk, Emory vice president and deputy to the president. “Our partnership with Meridian Herald and First Congregational Church in Emory’s 175th anniversary year also underscores Emory’s long commitment to the humane and reconciling power of history, of literature and of music.”
First Congregational Church understands its history as a source of strength, wisdom and tradition and its future legacy as a continuation of the best of its traditions. Deepening their personal and collective relationship with God and their faith traditions (Congregational, Christian, Evangelical and Reformed), First Church has vital ministries for all ages and stages of life. They extend a warm welcome to all people.
Meridian Herald exists to promote the interaction of worship, music and culture, bridging communities and traditions of the past and present. Through worship services, concerts, programs, and publications of exceptional quality and artistic character, Meridian Herald seeks to challenge the church and society to higher ideals of creativity and moral purpose. Established in 1997, Meridian Herald has distinguished itself as a creative force in the cultural life of Atlanta and the Southeast.