The Spirituals: Resonant Codes, Sacred and Secular

Tuesday 13 June 7.30pm
£22.00 (£20.00 concessions | £6.00 under 35)

Just as Bach, Beethoven and Mozart were settling the backbone of Western European musical canon, across the Atlantic, in the American Colonies, slave songs and Negro spirituals were born from the pain and tribulations of African people deprived of fundamental rights. Largely inspired by Old Testament stories of the Israelites’ flight from Egypt, the songs express grief, sorrow, but also joy and desire for freedom. A true hymn to resilience and a symbol of hope and faith in humanity, the powerful and beautiful Spirituals have influenced most of modern popular music whether it is ragtime, barbershop, jazz, gospel, blues, rock, techno and even forms of electronic music.

To grant the genre its true place in music history and thus honour its original interpreters, American countertenor Reginald Mobley has joined forces with French jazz pianist Baptiste Trotignon in this unique collaboration to offer a newly curated programme of songs written by black composers such as HT Burleigh, Florence Price and J Rosamond Johnson, alongside their own improvisational arrangements on original texts.

‘…the voice that many in the audience left the hall raving about was that of countertenor Reginald Mobley, also pure of tone, immaculate in his articulation and with a personal approach to ornamentation that was never too much and always musical.’ Keith Bruce, The Herald

This concert will be preceded 6.30pm – c.7.00pm by an illustrated talk: The Spirituals: Resonant Codes, Sacred and Secular : by Dr Matthew Williams, University of York Entrance foc for ticket holders

For over 150 years, African American spirituals have been a source of deep inspiration for many people. In February 2007, U.S. Congress passed a bill naming the spirituals a ‘National Treasure’. Born out of a 400-year struggle for freedom, they remind humanity of the profound dignity of human life. Saturated with ancient biblical texts about liberation, the spirituals often fuse secular concerns with transcendent ones. This lively blend of temporal and eternal interests is at the core of an ongoing conviction that the liberation of body, mind and soul is critical for human flourishing. From the civil rights movement of the 1960s to sporting events around the world, the melodies and rhythms of these songs echo in the public consciousness. Spirituals have especially resonated with marginalised communities; they remain a unifying anthem of hope for all who connect with the profundity of their expressive power. In the secular post-modern west, the spirituals are an invitation to reflect on the utility of continuing to infuse notions of the sacred in everyday life.

Please note there is a £1.50 administration fee per transaction

Event Date: 13/06/2023 7:30pm

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