Musicians "Lift Every Voice" to celebrate Black History Month

The Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts hosts “Lift Every Voice: Celebrating the African American Spirit” in February.  The school’s fourth annual presentation to celebrate Black History Month includes a symposium on February 24th and concert on Saturday, February 25th at 7:30 p.m. The community is invited to experience the discussion and performances of various styles of African American music during these two events.

Dean Marvin Curtis conducts the concert, which features the union of the IU Gospel Choir and Symphonic Choir of South Bend as they perform the works of African American composers in a variety of genres. The concert features guest artists: mezzo soprano Paulette Curtis of South Bend, Indiana; tenor Cornelius Johnson of Chicago, Illinois; the Moore String Trio of Berrien Springs, Michigan, and pianist William Chapman Nayho.

William Chapman NayhoThe symposium, led by Dr. William Chapman Nayho, will focus on the piano works of African and African American composers. Nayho is the author of the five volume compilation Piano Music of African and the African Diaspora, published by Oxford Press. Nayho is Ghanaian American and resident of Seattle. He studied at St. Peter’s College, Oxford University (UK), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree at the Honour School of Music. He continued his piano studies at the Conservatoire de Musique de Genève, Switzerland, the Eastman School of Music where he graduated with his Master of Music degree, and at the University of Texas at Austin, where he received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree. Chapman Nayho is the recipient of prizes from international piano competitions.

Paulette CurtisMezzo-soprano Dr. Paulette G. Curtis, assistant dean in the College of Arts and Letters at Notre Dame, favored repertoire are oratorio and art song, particularly German lied, which she has performed in a number of smaller venues in the Boston area. In South Bend, she has performed in Opera Notre Dame and has given a concert of German and American Art Song at the Snite Museum.

Tenor Cornelius Johnson made his professional solo operatic debut as Peter the Honeyman in Houston Grand Opera’s production of Porgy and Bess. The show toured at Opera Bastille in Paris, La Scala in Milan, and the Bunkarama Theater with the Tokyo Philharmonic. Johnson in the recipient of numerous awards, including the Frank Pandolfi Award from the Connecticut Opera Guild, Atlanta Opera, and he was a Regional Finalist in the MacAllister Competition. A native of Chicago, Johnson is a faculty member at Olive-Harvey College. He is founding Board Member and Music Director for South Shore Opera Company of Chicago.

Cornelius JohnsonThis year the concert will feature the Moore String Trio comprised of three brothers, Jamison, Jeshua, and Johann. They are residents of Berrien Springs, Michigan and members of the Berrien Springs Community Youth Orchestra, playing violin and cello. Ages 15, 13, and 11 respectively, these young musicians perform locally at various concert venues, such as the Monday Musical Club and at Andrews University, and internationally in St. Maarten, Dutch Caribbean. They were part of the Drake Academy sponsored by the South Bend Symphony Orchestra.

The concert concludes with selections of choral works by African American composers performed by the combined forces of South Bend Symphonic Choir and IU South Bend Gospel Choir.

“Lift Every Voice: Celebrating the African American Spirit” is made possible, in part, by the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County. Tickets for “Lift Every Voice: Celebrating the African American Spirit” are available for $3 to adults. Tickets for students and children are free of charge. For more information visit or call the Box Office at 574.520.4203.

//Lift Every Voice: Celebrating the African American Spirit

//7:30 pm Saturday, February 25

//Campus Auditorium, Northside Hall

//Tickets $3 | free to students/children