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Plans this weekend? Classical music by Black composers is featured at a concert in Bridgeport

Courtesy of Sacred Heart University

This Sunday, Sacred Heart University’s Orchestra and Wind Ensemble will host a fundraising concert to benefit the St. John’s Family Center in Bridgeport. The event will celebrate famous Black composers as part of Black History Month.

Keith Johnston, director of performing arts at Sacred Heart University, said the concert will feature works from well-known Black composers, such as Christopher Ducasse and Florence Price.

Price is a native of Little Rock, Arkansas, who studied at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. She moved to Chicago in the early 1930s to fulfill her composition career and was part of the Chicago Black Renaissance.

Johnston said including some of Price’s work was necessary because of the sacrifices she made to be recognized as a symphonic composer.

“We’re doing her dances in the canebrakes," Johnson said. "Canebrakes are a reed that grow in the deep South, and back whenever they had to clear the fields for planting cotton and whatnot, teams of slaves would spend their entire day clearing these canebreaks from the marshes and from the riverbanks so that they could then plant cotton in the fields."

"And what Florence Price did is she went through and she made some reasonable assumptions that at the end of the day, they would get together and create some music and dance as a way to celebrate and to end their day.”

Price composed over 300 works in her musical career. They included four symphonies, four concertos, plus art songs and music for chamber and solo instruments.

The orchestra will also sample work from Haitain native and composer, Christopher Ducasse.

Ducassse is a winner of the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association conducting competition in 2018. Johnston said his work is widely known across his homeland of Haiti and throughout the globe.

“He wrote a piece called' Lakay'," Johnston said, "and Lakay is Haitan Creole, which means home and in this piece. He incorporates a lot of rhythmic elements and Haitian dance elements to make this very, very fun piece about what it’s like to not be home and to miss home in all the ways that the word home means.”

The concert will take place at 3 p.m. from the SHU Community Theater located at 1420 Post Road in Fairfield. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online.

Sacred Heart University is the licensee of WSHU Public Radio.

Mike Lyle is a former reporter and host at WSHU.