Musical Performances Celebrating Emancipation Proclamation Anniversary

Geneseo faculty member and composer Glenn McClure has transformed abolitionist writings into choral works being performed in multiple states through May. 18.

GENESEO, N.Y. - The choral performance series "Emancipation Again" celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation is following the path of the Underground Railroad with concerts in five cities stretching from Alabama to New York.

Series composer Glenn McClure, a faculty member at the State University of New York at Geneseo and Eastman School of Music, has transformed a series of foundational American documents and writings on abolition into a global artistic vision through the choral works.

"This anniversary provides a unique platform to ask ourselves what emancipation means today," said McClure. "Singing these texts allows them to resonate deep within our minds and bodies and reminds us of how far we have come in the struggle for universal freedom, and how far we still need to go."

The series started in Birmingham, Ala., where the University of Alabama at Birmingham Choir, Virginia Wesleyan University Choir and Alabama State High School Honor Choir performed the world premiere of McClure's "Voices of Freedom." The two university choirs that performed in Birmingham presented the Virginia premiere of "Voices of Freedom" April 8 in Virginia Beach.

In the midst of the "Emancipation Again" series was a performance April 5 at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall of McClure's internationally acclaimed "Kyrie" from his world music oratorio "St. Francis in the Americas: A Caribbean Mass." The work has also enjoyed multiple performances at Carnegie Hall and around the world.

The emancipation series proceeds to SUNY Geneseo April 21 where the Geneseo Spectrum Women's Choir and the Concentus Women's Choir will perform the world premiere of McClure's "Beatrice in Paradise" at 3 p.m. in the college's Wadsworth Auditorium.

On May 11 at the John Brown Farm historical site in Saranac Lake, N.Y., the Northern Lights Choir will perform the world premiere of McClure's "Voices of Timbuctoo."

The series ends in Rochester, N.Y., the home of Frederick Douglass, when the Rochester Oratorio Society will perform the world premiere of McClure's "The Emancipation Oratorio" May 18. The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Hochstein Performance Hall.

McClure is a two-time recipient of the prestigious Continental Harmony Commission by the American Composers Forum. These commissions, like many of his musical compositions, were born out of community initiatives and collaborations. He often works with civic, religious, and non-profit groups to mold and shape his music into genuine expressions of the goals, interests and hopes of the communities from which they emerge.

He is a particularly passionate advocate for the role of the arts in K-12 education. He was awarded a national fellowship with VSA, a Washington, D.C.-based affiliate of the Kennedy Center that engages children and adults with disabilities with the arts. His award-winning curriculum design work has brought teachers of the arts together with teachers of many other disciplines to leverage arts-based learning for both general education and special-needs children.

One of his recent projects is focused on bringing students in the United States together with students in West Africa and Europe in collaborative, online education projects that use arts activities to animate academic learning. His project "Retelling the Story" brings students in the United States, the United Kingdom and Ghana together to transform the former triangle of slavery and bondage into a triangle of learning and creativity.

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