Atlanta Music Festival

November 2, 2019




First Congregational Church 1005 Courtland St, NE Atlanta GA 30303

Featuring the Fisk Jubilee Singers, Bass-Baritone Calvin Griffin – Timothy Miller, Tenor and The Meridian Chorale. Artistic Directors Dwight Andrews and Steven Darsey.

Link to the Atlanta Music Festival site.

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The Atlanta Music Festival Past & Present

In the wake of Atlanta’s race riots in 1906, First Congregational Church, led by Pastor Henry Hugh Proctor, the congregation’s first African American Pastor, instituted programs to improve the prospects of black communities and to encourage racial harmony. In 1910, they established the Atlanta Colored Music Festival to celebrate African American music and, though blacks had been refused admittance to Atlanta’s opera week, to invite the white community to experience the high cultural attainments of African Americans. Concert planners brought in performers of international stature, including singer-composer Harry T. Burleigh, soprano Anita Patti Brown, concert violinist Joseph Douglas, and the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Proctor and First Church’s initiatives, together with those of other black and white leaders, were the first steps in creating avenues for discourse that five decades later would help Atlanta shed the legacy of Jim Crow.

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.