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Last modified: Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Extensions of the Tradition concert Feb. 20 will feature organist Leo Davis Jr.

Feb. 2, 2011

BLOOMINGTON -- Indiana University's African American Arts Institute, in collaboration with the IU Jacobs School of Music and the Archives of African American Music and Culture, will present the annual "Extensions of the Tradition" concert on Sunday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. at Auer Hall, 200 S. Jordan Ave.

"Extensions of the Tradition" was established by William C. Banfield in 1988 at the University of Michigan, with the purpose of publicly performing works by African American composers. Since 1993, the series has been presented at IU Bloomington. This year's event will be another outstanding example of the concert series' commitment to highlighting and celebrating the truly expansive contributions of African American composers.

The program, which is free and open to the public, will cover organ works that span from the late 19th century to the late 20th century. It will portray a diverse array of compositions influenced by Protestant hymnody, plain chant, orchestral works, African-tribal tunes and a host of other sources. Specific pieces include:

  • "Git On Board," by Evelyn Simpson-Curenton, performed by Marietta Simpson, professor of voice in the IU Jacobs School of Music, and the African American Choral Ensemble conducted by Keith McCutchen
  • "Proclamations! (for organ, brass, timpani and chorus), by guest conductor Darin Atwater
  • "Go Down Moses," by Fela Sowande

The name "Extensions of the Tradition" refers to artistic expressions which are linked to a long history of African American composers. These composers speak in several "musical tongues" which exist, as W.E.B. Dubois has stated, " . . . in a double consciousness" of European and African-derived artistic traditions.

This year's concert will feature renowned organist Dr. Leo H. Davis Jr., who serves as head of the expansive music department at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis, Tenn. Davis is well known for his unique ability to balance powerful spiritual messages with artistry, and weave inspirational music themes into multi-cultural traditions. Moreover, the music he conducts and performs with the dynamic sanctuary choir spans centuries from 17th-century classics to contemporary African-American gospel renditions.

Otis Murphy, associate professor of music in the Jacobs School, also will perform.

The African American Arts Institute's current executive director is Charles E. Sykes. It is a unit of the IU Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs.