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South Coast Choral Concert Highlights Black Composers

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Courtesy of Channel Island Choral Association
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Music by Black composers is the focus of a South Coast virtual concert, starting Friday.

It’s an opportunity to highlight the work of underrepresented composers, for the 50-singer strong Channel Island Choral Association.

Conductor KuanFen Liu told KCLU, the messages in the music are universal.

Liu says one of the highlights is a choral arrangement of I Believe by composer Mark Miller.

"Some say it was an inscription on the wall of a cellar in Cologne, Germany, where a number of Jews hid themselves for the entire duration of World War II," said Liu.

"I feel like particularly with what we have gone through over the past year in the pandemic - so many of us have faced hardship - that it gives us hope that there's a light at the end of the tunnel," Liu said.

The director of the CICA, explained, “The Black composers in choral or orchestral music were overlooked by many concert venues or organizations because they were so accustomed to presenting only the white European composers.”

The chorus—which is about 50 singers strong—is comprised of CSUCI students, staff and faculty; members of the community and singers from the Pleasant Valley School District.

Among the composers whose work will be showcased will be Undine Smith Moore, a renowned Black composer who is often referred to as the “Dean of Black Women Composers,” as well vocalist and 10-time Grammy Award winner Bobby McFerrin.

“Bobby McFerrin actually did a lot of performances with Yo Yo Ma,” Liu said. “He’s classically trained, but uses a lot of different vocal techniques. He is such a strong performer in so many genres.”

The concert is available to stream here, for a $15 donation.