Atlanta Music Festival 2012
African American Concert Music
The Chancel Choir of First Congregational Church
The Meridian Chorale and Soloists
First Congregational Church
Presented in the newly renovated historic Atlanta First Church. Directions.
Admission is free—an offering will be taken
In 2001 Dwight Andrews and Steven Darsey, under the auspices of Atlanta's First Congregational Church and Meridian Herald, resurrected a long-defunct musical tradition begun by First Church in 1910. (See New Georgia Encyclopedia.) Presented annually, the Atlanta Music Festival celebrates the finest of African American concert music and musicians. In 2011, in collaboration with Emory University, the Music Festival featured international opera star and Atlanta native Indra Thomas. Spanning a week, the festival included workshops with Ms. Thomas for Georgia Public School and Woodward students at Woodward Academy, a vocal workshop at Emory for area college students, a composition workshop with renowned composer T. J. Anderson, and an event at Atlanta Symphony Hall with commentary and a performance of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" by 577 Atlanta area 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students, teaching them the origin of the hymn, its influence on generations of Americans and others throughout the world, and the power of its music and verse. The week culminated with a gala performance at Emory's Schwartz Center with Ms. Thomas, the First Church Choir, the Morehouse College Glee Club, and the Meridian Chorale and soloists offering spirituals and concert music with narration by Ambassador Andrew Young. For more information on the 2011 event see 2011 Music Festival.
This year's concert includes Atlanta tenor virtuoso Timothy B. Miller as featured soloist. Artistic Director Dwight Andrews, the Chancel Choir of First Church, their director Norma Raybon, and the Meridian Chorale and soloists with Steven Darsey as Music Director, will present African American concert music in First Church's historic, newly renovated sanctuary.
First Congregational Church and Meridian Herald
Dwight Andrews and Steven Darsey
Steven Darsey, a white southerner, and Dwight Andrews, an African American, articulate a convicted vision of justice and grace. Andrews, Pastor of First Congregational Church, has revived his congregation's music festival tradition in their ten year collaboration with Meridian Herald, and in May 2010 they presented the 100th anniversary Music Festival Concert at First Church. Darsey, music director, and Andrews, artistic director, explore their races' historic relationships via vernacular musical forms and their evolutions into contemporary classical expressions. This unique concert tradition has the historical gravity to project a future of shared promise. Music, with its mysterious power to manifest and transfigure reality, can inspire us all to advance this future.
For future performances, we intend to commission compositions from local and national musicians that explicate Georgia's particular racial heritage and help to realize her promise; to expand the range of art and institutions involved; and to make the fruits of this work available to an ever-expanding community.