By: EMILY YUSSUM
The eighth annual “Lift Every Voice: Celebrating the African American Spirit” concert will be held 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, in the Northside Hall Campus Auditorium.
The South Bend Symphonic Choir and IU South Bend Gospel Choir will perform alongside special guests in celebration of Black History Month. Composer Marques Garrett and the Chicago Solisti String Quartet have been invited to perform at this year’s concert.
Dean Marvin Curtis started the “Lift Every Voice” concert in 2008, as a way to showcase the talent of guest artists and those of the South Bend community.
“The concert has been the only event of celebration for Black History Month since I got here,” Curtis said. “I did it as an outreach to the community, to the black community in particular, to show that we can celebrate the month and that we have the talent to do so.”
The Chicago Solisti String Quartet will be the first quartet to perform at the annual event. The quartet ensemble is composed of Cierra Asmond, viola; Kyle Dickson, violin; Renaudo Christiansen-Robinson, violin; and Victor Sotelo, cello.
At only 30, Marques Garrett is both a student attending Florida State University for his doctorate degree and a young composer. He showcased his talent two years ago for a previous concert on IUSB’s stage and has been invited to return. Having composed several works already, Garrett will have four of his compositions played at the concert in contrast with Curtis’s compositions.
“People aren’t aware of Marques Garrett; he’s young and new. So I want people to hear his name. It’s a way that, by showcasing his work and mine, there’s not really a difference in how we approach things,” Curtis said. “We’re just two composers coming from the same background, of being black, and having the same background of spirituals, which is what the concert’s about. It’s more of just a way to show that the tradition still lives, that they are young people out there making music and using the spiritual which is part of Black History Month.”
As dean of the School of the Arts, Curtis looks around the country for artists IUSB students can relate to, in order to expose and connect them to artists from different schools and talents. Artists like Garret and the Chicago Solisti ensemble as well as the IU South Bend Symphonic and Gospel choirs give students a chance to see what young artists can do.
“I got a lot of comments from people. ‘I didn’t know you did this. I love the exposure.’ For me, it’s a way of exposing the community to the people I met in my life,” said Curtis. “These are people you might see in the future, so it’s something to say you’ve seen them on our stage. It’s a matter of bringing young talent to the community and we’ve had some fabulous talent already.”
The guest artists will speak at a convocation 12 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26, to talk about their careers and lives in performance.
“You’ll see some amazing dancing and music, and it’s just to see something different. It’s the last Saturday of February. So it’s the last weekend of Black History Month, and it’s become a big part of what I’m trying to do with the university,” Curtis said. “I encourage students to come. You’ll see and hear a variety of things and see some of our students perform while learning about African American heritage.”
Tickets for the concert can be purchased at the Northside box office. General public admission is $3.00 and is free to students and children.