Out of the Silence celebrates the musical life of African Americans living during the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Mixing spoken narrative and live musical performances, this evening will explore the meaning of classical music to African American individuals and communities, provide insights into the social uplift music fostered in those communities, and create an awareness of the challenges faced and successes enjoyed by African American musicians.
Out of the Silence will be told through seldom-heard works by the black American composers William Grant Still, Florence Price, Harry Freeman, Harry T. Burleigh, and Margaret Bonds, among others, accompanied by images that capture these musicians and others at work. Many of these items are drawn from the rich collections held at the University of Michigan Music Library and the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts at the Detroit Public Library. Special guests will include professor emeritus and renowned bass Willis Patterson and the 2017 Kresge Eminent Artist, harpist Patricia Terry-Ross, and Elizabeth James, Program Manager and Outreach Coordinator in the U-M Department of Afroamerican and African Studies.. Presented on the occasion of the University of Michigan’s 2018 Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposium, this performance is a collaboration with the U-M Museum of Art, School of Music, Theatre & Dance, U-M’s Gershwin Initiative and the School of Music, Theatre & Dance / University Musical Society’s concert production of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.
This performance, co-curated by Leah Claiborne and Austin Stewart, is presented as part of the SMTD@UMMA Performance Series which presents 6-8 unique performances each year that connect with the exhibitions, collections, and spaces of UMMA and showcases the talent of SMTD faculty, students and staff.