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Livingstone offers concert series

By Laurie D. Willis
Livingstone CollegeNews Service
Beginning Monday, a series of musical performances will be given in Varick Auditorium on the Livingstone College campus.
The performances, including one by internationally known tenor Uzee Brown Jr., are part of the Livingstone College’s annual Spring Concert, which is being held at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. The theme of this year’s concert is “Exploring The Legacy of African-American Music.”
“This year we’re really focusing on the works of William Grant Still, who is widely considered the dean of African-American composers,” said Sidney C. Sessoms Jr., director of bands and assistant professor of music at Livingstone College. “We’re focusing on two of Mr. Still’s works, and his daughter has graciously agreed to be a part of our spring concert.”
Sessoms said Still’s “From The Delta,” a concert band piece, will be performed as well as “The Black Man Dances,” a piano concerto that will feature John Robertson, an Atlanta pianist, and Salisbury Symphony members.
Judith Anne Still, president of William Grant Still Music Company based in Flagstaff, Az., will attend the spring concert and also conduct a workshop on her father at noon Thursday at Soldiers Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church, Sessoms said. The concert will feature Ivory Brock, who taught Sessoms when he was a student at Delaware State University and is an international clinician. Brock has worked closely with Dr. Quincy C. Hilliard and will conduct one of his works.
“It is my hope and desire that these events will educate Livingstone College students and the community on the many accomplishments of African-American and other minority composers,” Sessoms said. “So many times people like Florence Price, Ulysses S. Kay Jr. and William Grant Still go unrecognized for the great contributions they have made to music, particularly African-American music. I feel confident that after hearing just a sampling of their works people in the audience will have a deeper appreciation for them and perhaps even go out and purchase some of their music.”
The musical activities commence on Monday with a master class/concert given by world renowned opera singer Angela Renee Simpson. Simpson has performed extensively in Europe and was once referred to as “the grandest moment” in a New York Times review about her performance as Serena in “Porgy and Bess.”
On Tuesday, the college is having a read-through session of the works of Hilliard, one of the foremost composers of band literature in the world. That session begins at 6 p.m. in Varick Auditorium, and area high schools have been invited to participate in it.
On Wednesday, a dress rehearsal will take place, but at 11 a.m. during the college’s weekly Family Assembly, there will be a round-table discussion featuring some of the artists, Sessoms said.
All performances are free and open to the public.
Sessoms said he is anticipating a crowd to rival or surpass attendance at Livingstone College’s 2010 Christmas Extravaganza.
“Salisbury residents, Rowan County residents and people in surrounding counties who enjoy good music won’t want to miss these events,” Sessoms said. “I am excited over the extraordinary talent lineup we’ve assembled to come to our campus, and I am thankful we are able to provide such stellar performers to the community free of charge.”

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