The works and legacy of black composers — from the well-known to those whose identities are lost to history — will be celebrated this weekend during Mid-Columbia Mastersingers’ latest concert.
Performances of O Black and Unknown Bards are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and at 3 p.m. Sunday at GracePoint Church, 1915 N. Road 84, Pasco.
Reg Unterseher, Mastersingers associate conductor, is leading the concert. Black composers have made an indelible mark on the choral tradition and the Mastersingers aim to honor that, he said.
“These are very important voices that deserve to be heard,” he said.
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The program will include songs by a wide range of music makers, from slaves who sang of their sorrows, their faith and their hopes in spirituals, to 20th century composer Nathaniel Dett, who studied at Harvard, performed at Carnegie Hall and won the Bowdoin Prize, among other accomplishments.
The program also will feature work by acclaimed contemporary composers, including Ysaye Barnwell and Evan Flory-Barnes.
Flory-Barnes is a Seattle musician — bassist for the avant-jazz/rock/pop/jam group Industrial Revelation and composer of orchestral music.
Mastersingers commissioned him to compose a setting of the James Baldwin poem Paradise. He’ll be at the Pasco shows, joining Unterseher for the pre-show talks.
The Mastersingers also will be joined by the Mid-Columbia Boys’ Choir, who’ll sing works by Rollo Dilworth, including an arrangement of Follow the Drinking Gourd and settings of Langston Hughes poetry. Kurtis McFadden and JoLyn Glenn lead the Boys’ Choir.
Unterseher said the music highlighted in the concert is stunning and special, and he’s excited for audiences to learn more about those who made it.
“We’re focusing on people — the real-life people who created this music. We’re helping people to know their names and faces,” he said. “That’s my goal.”
Tickets are $25 for general admission and free for K-12 students. A group rate is available, and first-time Mastersingers attendees are admitted for free.