Feel The Spirit
Bonn Square, Oxford
This term the Cherwell Singers pays a humble tribute to the immense influence African- American music has had on the history of modern music worldwide. While jazz (which gradually evolved from ragtime) is perhaps the most important form of music pioneered by African-Americans, rhythm and blues, soul, barbershop and rock and roll all owe their origins to this tradition, and the influence of these forms on world music has been enormous.
In the first half of the concert we acknowlege Duke Ellington who with his jazz orchestra and partner Billy Strayhorn, was a pivotal figure in the history of jazz, and also include piano music by ragtime composer Scott Joplin. The second half of the concert is devoted to the uniquely indigenous form of the African-American spiritual, whose powerful sentiments evoke yearning for escape from the conditions of slavery and sometimes contain coded messages of escape. Although these were originally unaccompanied unison songs they have become best known in harmonised choral arrangements such as the suite "Feel the spirit" arranged by John Rutter in a version for piano, clarinet and drums which we shall present.
The fusion of harmonic and rhythmic features from Western and sub-Saharan Africa into European musical styles has made music from the African-American tradition one of the most exciting, sometimes poignant, but hugely popular forms of music there is. We invite you to to the appropriate setting of the New Road Baptist Church, Bonn Square with its "Southern" interior for what should be a lively evening of music making designed to appeal to the widest possible audience.
Steven Grahl - piano
Rhodri Taylor - clarinet