On a windy night on Penn State’s campus, students, graduates and faculty got together to commemorate the works of the African American musical greats in history.
The Celebration of African American Music began today, and a special recital was showcased to pay homage to legendary African American musicians, such as John Coltrane.
Students were excited for the recital, as they waited patiently in anticipation for the first performance.
“I think it’s gonna be good, it’s gonna be a full sound,” Kelsey Patterson (freshman-English) said.
Patterson said the reason behind her attendance to the celebration was the diverse sound that the jazz recital would perform.
“It’s music that I’ve never heard before,” Patterson said.
A variety of musical selections were chosen, which exceeded the range of one, or even three instruments.
The performance began with the soft but powerful medley of “Suite for Orchestra” by Ulysses Kay. The rendition of the musical legend’s work acted as a blend of blues, jazz and classical music.
The African American spiritual, “Let Us Break Bread Together,” proved to be a crowd favorite.
Alexandra Singh (freshman-biobehavioral health) said the spiritual was her favorite of the night.
“It was slow and it moved nicely,” Singh said. “It was executed well and it really celebrated jazz music.”
The pain felt by African Americans could be heard in the song, yet a certain hope that the pain would not last resonated through.
The Graduate Brass Quintet made an appearance and so did an undergraduate group, Urban Jazz Trio.
Performing “Coltrane’s Lonnie’s Lament,” the Urban Jazz Trio was given the opportunity to perform in front of professors and classmates, said the band’s leader Donte Ford (junior-music) said.
“I was absolutely excited,” Ford said. “It’s always fun to share music with others and music conducive to your people.”
But the chance to tribute African American musical legends was more than exciting for the performers.
“It’s monumental,” Ford said. “I can count on one hand the amount of African American students I know in the School of Music.”
To be able to represent African American music was important, Ford said, because it allowed students the chance to embody the true art of jazz and African American music.
But aside from the representation of celebrating this genre of music, the entertainment was most beneficial.
“I’d go again,” Singh said. “It’s nice to come on a Thursday evening and get away from homework. It was relaxing.”
The Celebration of African American music continues today at 2:30 p.m. in Esber Recital Hall. The festival ends at 1 p.m. Saturday with Essence of Joy’s performance in the Pasquerilla Center.