The Black Student Union at Eastman has completed its annual Black History Month Recital Series. In this virtual series, the videos feature pieces by eminent black composers and poets performed by Black students at Eastman; this year the series also boasts a guest artist, pianist Lara Downes. The full videos are available on the YouTube page @eastmanbsu and reels showcasing clips of the videos have been posted on the Eastman BSU’s Instagram page and Facebook page @eastmanbsu.
Here is the list of composers and performers:
Undine Smith Moore (1904 – 1989): Love, let the wind cry … how I adore thee, performed by Jazmine Saunders, soprano, and Ava Linvog, accompanist
William Grant Still (1895 – 1978): “Bayou Home,” from Three Songs for Horn and Piano, performed by Brianna Garcon, horn, and Priscilla Yuen, accompanist
Leslie Adams (1932 – ): “For You There Is No Song”; Robert Owens: “Genius Child,” performed by Holden Turner, baritone, and Natalie Pang, accompanist
Adolphus Hailstork (1941 – ): “Moderato” from Two Romances, performed by Adrian Jackson, viola, and Isabelle Hsiao, accompanist
Drew Hemenger and Adrienne Danrich: “Breathe,” performed by Brittney Bryanna Burgess, soprano, and Maeve Berry, accompanist
Scott Joplin (1868 – 1917): “Prelude” from Treemonisha, performed by Lara Downes, piano
Florence B. Price (1887 – 1953): Adoration, performed by Alex Diaz, viola and Reggie Bowens, accompanist
Harry T. Burleigh (1866 – 1949): “His Name So Sweet,” performed by Kayla Sconiers, mezzo-soprano, and Reggie Bowens, accompanist
BSU President Brianna Garcon, a senior horn student who also performs in a recital video, provided some background on this annual series.
Can you tell me more about the origins of this series?
In general, the BSUE has done a Black History Month recital since the beginning of our organization in 2018. The goal is to promote music by black composers and showcase the black students at Eastman. Due to the pandemic, we’ve moved the recital online so that it is as accessible as possible.
How would you describe the response to the series at Eastman?
The students, staff, faculty, and the greater Eastman community have been so encouraging and supportive about these videos. So many of them will either share our posts on their own social media or like and comment on our videos. This means so much to us: not only to see other people learn about these composers, but also to like them enough to possibly even want to play some of these pieces or recommend them to their peers.
Does each participant choose the musical repertory they perform? Do you have any criteria for the composers, music, or performance?
The only criterion for this recital is to perform a piece by a Black composer. By not doing solely classical music, this allows for more genres to be performed. For this current recital series, students filled out an interest form, where they told us what piece they would like to play and whether or not they needed help finding an accompanist. We used this survey to help us create a list of performers and pieces for the recital.
Does the Eastman BSU have plans for further videos or performances?
We don’t have plans set up for another recital, but we do host monthly Black Table Talks, which are interviews with prominent black musicians, and throughout the month of March we will be posting bi-weekly profiles on black women in the arts on our Instagram and Facebook story for women’s month