MPSOM Students Use Talents to Support Black History Month Activities

We've said it before-our MPSOM students are resourceful, dedicated, and compassionate. They are enthusiastic about a wide variety of topics-both music and otherwise-and over the last year, they have continued to show inordinate resiliency even in the face of a worldwide pandemic, political unrest, and racial discord.

Not surprisingly, several students are using their talents to support causes and events this month-Black History month-both here on campus and out in the community. Below, we highlight some of these projects:

The August Wilson African American Cultural Center kicked off their three-part event, "Pittsburgh's Black Art Scene: Past, Present and Future" this past Friday, Feb. 12. The third and final segment of the event, "The Future," showcases Funky Fly Project, a funk and jazz group featuring two freshmen music technology students-Winston Bell (saxophone) and Henry Schultz (keyboard). Along with fellow musicians Brandon Terry (drums) and Eric Dowdell (bass), the group (all 21 years old or younger!) is set to hit the virtual stage at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, February 26. For more information, visit the August Wilson Center's event page.

In 2020, current graduate student Candace Burgess (B.M. Performance, 2020) founded I, Too, Sing, a project "aimed at closing the gap of representation of African-descended composers by celebrating, performing, and educating communities on classical vocal literature by those within the African Diaspora." The project consists of a series of lectures, recitals, and panels and has integrated organizations including the Pittsburgh Festival Opera, the Creative Rapid Response Initiative, Pittsburgh's National Opera House, Remake Learning, the Black Opera Alliance, and Church of the Redeemer Pittsburgh. Candace was to be a recitalist in an upcoming I, Too, Sing performance, but it has been put on hold until July 2, due to the pandemic. Find out more about I, Too, Sing on the project's website.

Here on campus, the Michael P. Weber Learning Skills Center and the Gussin Spiritan Division of Academic Programs will host the National Council of Teachers of English's third annual African American Read-In on Wednesday, February 24 at 6 p.m. This virtual event will feature readings, performances, dancing, and more, all authored by African Americans. Candace Burgess is also involved in this project. She will perform Lift Every Voice and Sing, often referred to as the Black National Anthem, and will also offer a presentation on Black American classical composers. In addition to Burgess, there are a few other MPSOM students planning to participate but have not yet finalized their contributions as of the writing of this piece. If you would like to attend the African American Read-In event, please join the Zoom meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 6 p.m.

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