Roosevelt A. Credit
Composer and singer Roosevelt A. Credit

The Conservatory Choruses from Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts (CCPA) will present a variety of music to celebrate Black History Month at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21 in the University’s seventh-floor Ganz Hall, 430 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago.

Music for the program will include some rarely heard classical works of African American composers and poets, as well as spirituals, gospels, blues and theatrical works honoring black culture in America.  Popular choruses from George and Ira Gershwin’s opera “Porgy and Bess,” as well as movements from the “Gospel Mass” by Dr. Robert Ray and spirituals including “We Shall Walk Through the Valley” are included.

Conductors will be Cheryl Frazes Hill and Mark Crayton, faculty members of the Music Conservatory in Roosevelt’s CCPA. Guest artists will include the chorus from Providence St. Mel High School, conducted by David Baar.  Other guest artists who will take the stage include the renowned conductor and composer Rollo Dilworth, who will conduct several of his works, and well-known composer and singer Roosevelt A. Credit who appeared in Broadway’s “Porgy and Bess” and will solo in a work of his composing as well as the “Porgy and Bess” medley.

“This concert being performed by CCPA is important to the Music Conservatory and to Roosevelt’s mission of social justice,” said Frazes Hill, associate professor of music education at Roosevelt University and director of the CCPA Choirs and Chorale.

Besides attending formal rehearsals, Roosevelt singers have prepared for the Feb. 21 performance by viewing films, texts and poetry reflecting the African American experience, including many of the writings of African-American poet and writer Langston Hughes.

“Singers will perform works of African-American female composers, and will sing several pieces by Florence B. Price, who was affiliated with Roosevelt’s Music Conservatory (previously known as Chicago Musical College) and is particularly noteworthy in that she was the first African-American woman to have had a piece performed by a major symphony orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra,” said Frazes Hill.

Mark Crayton, voice lecturer at Roosevelt University and co-conductor of the Black History Month concert, hopes the performances will be an inspiration for all.

“The depth of the musical gifts given to the world by the African American community is reason enough to attend this concert,” Crayton said. “But if you are not familiar with that struggle, this music will show firsthand the blood, sweat, love, and tears of experience poured into each piece.”

“Black History Month: A Musical Retrospective” is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Elizabeth Sustar Nye at esustar@roosevelt.edu or at 312-341-2238.

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