BMRC’s Black Prism, music by African American composers

The New Black Music Repertory Ensemble of the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago will be presented in a special Black History Month program on Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m., in the Harris Theater for Music and Dance to highlight one of the m

The New Black Music Repertory Ensemble of the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago will be presented in a special Black History Month program on Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m., in the Harris Theater for Music and Dance to highlight one of the most important African American women composers, Florence Price (1887-1953). She spent most of her professional career in Chicago and an elementary school bears her name. “Black Prism” will feature the center’s 70-piece orchestra with three concert vocalists from Germany, New York and the Houston Grand Opera along with celebrated concert pianist Karen Walwyn.

Price’s first symphony, considered among the main concert musical achievements of the Harlem Renaissance, was premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1933 and was the first piece by a Black woman to be performed by a major symphony orchestra in the U.S. Her Concerto in One Movement for piano premiered in Orchestra Hall in 1934. This will be the world premiere of the reconstructed score for the concerto. BMRE will record both Price works for the second issue in the Recorded Music of the African Diaspora series.

Also featured: Olly W. Wilson’s Of Visions and Truth: A Song Cycle, a stunning five-movement work for a chamber ensemble and three vocalists who use musical and textured emblems from African American culture in inventive ways that both surprise and entice. He says the work is based on his personal reflection on the historical status of African American males in American society. Also: Mary D. Watkins’ Five Movements in Color“ swings, grooves and harkens to the roots of African American music expression with elements of jazz, traditional African music and popular music forms.” She refers to her work for full symphony orchestra as “an epochal painting or poem about our journey as a Black people in this country.”

Tickets, $20-$55, are available through the Harris Theater box office, 205 E. Randolph, online, or by calling (312) 334-7777. Box office hours: Mon.-Fri., noon-6 p.m., and on performance days until curtain. Discounts are available for groups, students and seniors. The program is supported in part by grants from The Aaron Copland Fund for Music and the Nat’l Endowment for the Arts, which believes a great nation deserves great art.

Curtain Call The world-premiere of playwright Thomas Bradshaw’s Mary, an explosive new play that takes a provocative, wickedly funny view on families, political correctness and the changing nature of bigotry in contemporary America, is in previews at Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, through March 6 in Goodman’s Owen Theatre. Named “Best Provocative Playwright" by The Village Voice and hailed as “brilliant” by The New Yorker, Bradshaw pulls no punches in his comedic and absurd drama. At the height of “AIDS hysteria" in 1983, college student David brings his boyfriend to his parents’ Virginia home where nothing has changed since the 1800s including its slave quarters. Confronting hypocrisy and oppression with exhilarating wit, Bradshaw’s work is “likely to leave you speechless!" (The New York Times).

Myra Lucretia Taylor leads the ensemble cast as the family’s servant, Mary. Based on a true story and commissioned by Goodman, Mary, directed by May Adrales, opens Monday. Tickets are $10-$42; call (312) 443-3800 or visit ExploreTheGoodman.org. Prince Charitable Trusts is the lead contributor to Goodman’s New Works Endowment Fund; principal support of artistic development and diversity initiatives comes from The Joyce Foundation.

Newsy Names ¡¡– Happy b’day to Allison Payne, Twyler Jenkins, Larry Rogers Jr., State Rep. Ken Dunkin, Rev. Jacquie Hood Martin, Gerrard McClendon, Ira J. Acree, Deborah Washington, Natalie Scruggs-Bumpers, Shandrea Bell, Maggie Brown, Dee Alexander, Carol Wooten McDaniel, Abiola Akintola, Beverly Hadley, Vandy Harris, Barbara Jean, Pat Fambro-Hoover, Michelle Williams, Deborah Douglas, Arlene Pierce, Ron Holt, Alana Burke, Albert Dixon Cunningham III, Mark Register, Richard Rolark Congrats to Sonya Guyton, Assata Cooper, Kristil Hayes, Lori Dill, Christoria Franklin, Harriett D. Eiland and Addie L. Davis, Ph.D. (a.k.a. “seven shining jewels”) who “crossed over” and are now proud sorors of the grad chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority’s Xi Mu Chapter in suburban Markham. The Neophyte Celebration, under the leadership of Karen A. Franklin, dean, and Adrienne E. Turner, basileus, was held at the Pros Sport Bar in Country Club Hills … Veteran TV personality Merri Dee was inducted into the prestigious Nat’l Ass’n of Black Journalists’ Hall of Fame in “The Big Apple.” Way to go, sistah-girl! I ain’t mad atcha!

Heritage Happenings ¡ NBC 5 celebrates African American Heritage Month with taped vignettes of several prominent Chicagoans, including two of their own, Warner Saunders and Marion Books; others are Jackie Taylor (Black Ensemble Theater), Melody Spann-Cooper (WVON Radio), Pastor Charles Jenkins (Fellowship M.B. Church), Josephine Wade (Capt.’s Hard Time Dining), Erika and Monika Simmons (Double Stitch Twins), Jerry Azuma (Chicago Bears) and students of Urban Prep Academy (Tim King, principal). They were presented at a community luncheon reception at NBC Tower. Cooper and N’Digo’s Hermene Hartman spoke.

ABC 7 marks the month with special news reports, programming, vignettes and an original presentation of Heart & Soul, its series that taps into the essence of our town’s African American community on Feb. 19, 6 p.m., co-hosted Jim Rose and Cheryl Burton with an encore showing on Feb, 20, 1:30 p.m., produced by Rubye Wilson. In it Burton and Rose look at Chicagoans making a name for themselves around the world and right here in Chicago: architect Dina Griffin, president, Interactive Design, the minority fim that worked closely on the renowned Modern Wing of the Art Institute; and a visit to Ring of Hope, a grass roots group founded by an activist and minister whose mission is to curb youth violence by introducing the sport of boxing Karen Jordan and Charles Thomas contribute reports to this special. During the month ABC will air vignettes highlighting African American arts and cultural organizations. Playwright/producer Jackie Taylor’s Black Ensemble Theater will be featured. Another will spotlight the Chicago Multicultural Dance Center “molds young dancers by giving them skills, discipline, self-confidence and motivation they’ll need to succeed in life.” Part of the vignette salute is the Griffin Gallery on the Northwest Side founded by Art Institute grad, Gerald Griffin.

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Deltas Step ¡– The Chicago Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority kicks-off its 2011 fundraising season, “Deltas’ Delights,” with “Steppin’ with Deltas”, a steppers and line dance soirΘe, at Mr. G’s Supper Club, 1547 W. 87th St., on Feb. 27,, 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Tickets: $10; $15 at the door. Co-chairs: Donna Edgar, Felicia Guest and Yvonne Perkins; Taliva A. Tillman is alumnae president. This event and several others are ways to reach out to the community while giving back. Additional dates: March 20, April 17 and May 15. Other fundraisers throughout the season include a musical concert series (jazz & gospel), talent show/comedy club, pamper spa party, family fun & frolic and really big raffle.

Winter Dance ¡– Chicagoans can avail themselves of a free one-hour dance lesson followed by open dancing each Saturday and Sunday in February, 1 p.m.-5 p.m., as part of Winter Dance on the indoor stage of the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. Learn the fox trot, waltz, salsa, mambo, cha-cha, tango, swing, steppin’ and Charleston. Winter Dance also includes extended ice skating hours and free late night ice dance parties on Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m.-11 p.m., and free ice skating lessons, Saturdays and Sundays, 8 a.m.-10 a.m., at McCormick Tribune Ice Rink. Visit www.explorechicago.org.

Copyright 2011 Chicago Defender

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