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Oct. 20, 2021

‘Lift Every Voice’ concert to celebrate diverse composers

MSU College of Music artists from across genres celebrate the influence of lesser-known Black, Asian and female composers in “Lift Every Voice,”  the kick-off event of the 12th season of the Joanne and Bill Church West Circle Series at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 25 in the Fairchild Theatre.


The second annual “Lift Every Voice” concert draws its name from the century-old hymn that has become an anthem and pledge of unity for people and communities fighting for equality and justice. This year’s presentation illustrates the range and depth of diverse composers and their influence on classical music over generations. MSU artists on the program are Deborah Moriarty, piano; Zhihua Tang, piano; Jane Bunnell, mezzo-soprano; Yvonne Lam, violin; jazz bassist Rodney Whitaker and members of the MSU Professors of Jazz; and guest percussionist Kevin Jones leading the African Diaspora Percussion Ensemble. Whitaker, director of Jazz Studies and University Distinguished Professor of Jazz Bass, will be the concert’s story guide.


The program features storytelling, chamber music and jazz along with traditional Congolese Drumming and will take the audience on a musical journey that weaves history, personal stories, and perspectives. Each artist will precede their performance with brief remarks that relate their musical selections to their personal experiences. Featured composers include Florence Price, Rebecca Clarke, Huahua Gong, Jianzhong Wang, Michiru Oshima and Somei Satoh. 


Patrons may enjoy additional concerts in the West Circle Series this fall, winter and spring — all in the Fairchild Theatre at 7:30 p.m. “Bach in the USA” explores Bach and his lineage and Baroque era music on Monday, Dec. 6. “Happy Birthday Mozart” celebrates the birthday of one of the world’s most beloved composers on Monday, Jan. 24. “Legends”  closes the series on Monday, April 4, through a blended concert and multi-media experience that takes a transformative look between beloved classical works and drama-rich current-day music of the video gaming industry. 


“This year’s West Circle Series truly has something for everyone,” said Deborah Moriarty, MSU professor of piano and director of the series. “The slate of performances reflects the diversity and breadth of music in all its form, with our kick-off concert featuring storytelling that will give our audience insight into the performers and the music that is their life.”

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