The South Bend Symphony Orchestra American Composers Concert on April 2, 2022 is a rich legacy of works by African American composers. Prioritizing the implementation of diversity in the 2021-22 season, the fourth concert in the Jack M. Champaigne Masterworks Series will feature works by African-American composers exclusively for the first time in the Symphony’s history.
American Composers presents Quinn Mason’s A Joyous Trilogy, Florence Price’s Piano Concerto in One Movement and William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony as testimony to Symphony’s statement of equity, diversity and inclusion in action.
For A Joyous Trilogy, Quinn Mason writes that he “wanted to create a composition that was the
the very embodiment of happiness and cheerfulness, an accessible work that would put any listener in a good mood.” The first movement, “Running”, gives the impression; the endless movement of the musicians and the energy relentless momentum of this section has the audience rushing with it. Although it seems like the excitement won’t stop, ‘Running’ runs into
“Reflection”, Mason’s second movement. This section is a sudden change that is a tender and
reflective movement causing audience members to move inward and examine
themselves and their thoughts. Finally, we come to the last movement, ‘Renouveau’ which chooses
some of that energy returns though, becoming more vibrant and bouncy. This fun complex
section follows through to the end of the play, leaving the audience exuberant and ready for
Next comes Florence Price’s Piano Concerto in One Movement performed by the ever talented Michelle Cann. Although it is technically in one movement, there are three distinct movements
sections played without interruption. The first begins with a slow introduction, relieving the audience
and carefully welcome them into Price’s world. The room then quickly passes to the urgent
and melodious primary section. The concerto ends with a playful example of a juba, a
folk dance that was popular in the years before the Civil War, and a memorial to those before
Finally, William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony closes this reflective evening. Also
represented in three parts this piece opens with ‘The Bond of Africa’ containing a soaring blues
gesture of a solo French horn. Not even a minute, however, the ropes cut off with a tender
cinematic-like snippet drawing the audience to fully anticipate a spectacular performance. In
the second movement, “Hope in the Night”, Dawson describes the atmosphere of a people who
gone through the horrors of slavery but with a three gong, designating the Trinity, a
symbol of hope that guides man through the night. To end the piece, the third movement,
‘O Le’ Me Shine, Shine Like A Morning Star!’ Dawson takes a lighter perspective. Here he
incorporates two African-American melodies, “O Le’ Me Shine, Le’ Me Shine Like A Mornin’
ONLINE – www.morriscenter.org/events/category/symphony
PHONE – Morris Performing Arts Center box office, 574-235-9190 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.,
IN PERSON – Visit our friends at Morris (211 N. Michigan St., South Bend) during
the times indicated above or two hours before any performance.
SEE the 2021-22 season schedule, visit www.southbendsymphony.org.