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EOS Project Concert: Gather Up in the Arms of Your Love
February 20 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
The EOS Concert Series presents “Gather Up in the Arms of Your Love” Sunday, February 20.
The 4 p.m. concert at the BMC will feature songs by Florence Price, two songs to poems of Langston Hughes from Shadow of the Blues by John Musto, a prolific contemporary composer, and music for piano and strings by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. In addition, the program includes a piano trio premier by Brattleboro’s Stan Charkey, based on Coleridge-Taylor’s piano arrangement of the well-known spiritual Deep River.
The performers, all BMC Music School faculty members, include soprano Margery McCrum, with Bruce Griffin, piano, Michelle Liechti and Moby Pearson on violin, and Judith Serkin on cello.
The BMC launched the EOS (Educate. Open. Strengthen.) Concert Series as a direct response to questions about social justice as it pertains to the world of classical music and institutions such as the BMC. The ongoing concert series is envisioned as a collaborative effort of BMC Music School faculty and other local musicians to actively seek out and intentionally perform music by composers who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, as well as composers who identify as anything other than cis male.
“The title of the program is taken from Langston Hughes’ poem Litany – ‘Gather up in the arms of your love,’ ” McCrum explains. “We are deeply honored to share these works with our audience and hope they will feel the embrace of this music.”
She continues, “Planning this concert has been a yearlong experience, exploring a new world of music for me. I have come to know and admire Florence Price and her music. She was an extraordinary woman – child prodigy, high school valedictorian, mother, divorcee, pianist and organist with degrees from New England Conservatory, composer, and an important figure in the Chicago Black Renaissance. Ms. Price is acknowledged as the first Black woman composer of national recognition in America. Until two years ago, I had never heard of her.”
McCrum explained that she and Griffin worked together, rehearsing Price’s art songs and spirituals for this EOS performance. Price’s compositions reflect not only her classical training, but also her African American heritage. “This influence shines through in her arrangements of well-known traditional spirituals and her own compositions,” says McCrum. “She draws on a number of poets, especially Paul Laurence Dunbar and Langston Hughes, with whom she was well acquainted, and surprisingly, Ogden Nash. She has composed humorous ditties, soulful laments and prayers, gently flowing art songs. Owing to her love and mastery of piano, her piano accompaniments are rich, at times with great flourish; others are spare and haunting.”