Black Lives Matter solidarity grows in second campus concert
The first virtual Black Lives Matter Solidarity Concert in June was met with such positive response from performers and participants that a second concert was presented on July 24.
This time, 100 people logged in to listen to several musical selections highlighting a wide spectrum of Black composers. Student leaders from Pacific music fraternities, student-run ensembles and the Conservatory of Music Student Senate organized both concerts to support Black musicians, the Black Lives Matter movement and affected communities.
"This concert comes from a place of love and compassion and wanting to announce change," said concert student director Molly Westlake '22. "People might think that we're limiting ourselves to only Black composers. I think that rather than looking at restrictions, we should look at it as opening the doors to experiencing new music and new composers we've never heard about."
Conservatory faculty, pianist Patricia Grimm and saxophonist Ricardo Martinez opened the concert with a performance of "Romance" by William Grant Still (1895–1978), who is known as the "Dean of Afro-American Composers."
Grimm followed with a piano performance of "Spring Intermezzo" from "Four Seasonal Sketches" by Betty Jackson King—the first Black teacher in the Wildwood New Jersey School District. Jazz studies major Kaycee Clark '21 presented a clarinet rendition of the protest tune "Change Is Gonna Come," which was written by Sam Cooke in response to racism in Louisiana in the 1960s.
After a brief discussion about the art of Black American portraitist Kehinde Wiley, conservatory students presented the only two vocal performances of the evening. Jon Ivy '20 sang his tune "Freedom" which he wrote about "Black freedom and the ongoing struggle for equity and equality here in America."
Members of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Beta Pi Chapter performed "Lift Every Voice and Sing" composed in 1905 by John Rosamond Johnson with words by his brother James Weldon Johnson. The NAACP in 1919 dubbed the song the national anthem of Black Americans for its power in voicing a cry for liberation and affirmation of African Americans.
Grimm came back on stage to accompany Professor Mathew Krejci in his flute rendition of the popular George Gershwin’s "Summertime," arranged by Charlie Parker.
The final performance of the concert was a contemporary piece "Björk Cute," written by Brooklyn-based performer-composer and poet Yaz Lancaster. Performed by the 28/78 New Music Ensemble, this piece was originally commissioned by the ensemble for its performance at New Music Festival at University of the Pacific last winter. The engaging animation accompanying the musical was designed by Media X major Benny Huynh '21.
The concert also was a fund drive benefiting two nonprofits, Black Arts Futures Fund and the Sphinx Organization. During the one-hour event, students raised nearly $800, which will support arts in Black and ethnic communities.