Event Celebrates Cultural Music Traditions



Professor of Voice and Music Literature and Director of Vocal Studies at KSU, Dr. Oral Moses, and Daniel Gale from the Temple Beth-El in Birmingham, Alabama presented “Songs of Struggle, Songs of Faith: Celebrating the African-American and Jewish Musical Traditions” last Sunday, Feb. 19 at the Dr. Bobbie Bailey and Family Performance Center.

The recital included special appearances by The Georgia Spiritual Ensemble and Judith Cole, a KSU adjunct instructor of music theory and music history. The performances featured vocal works from the African-American and Jewish traditions, spirituals, Yiddish songs, songs by Black and Jewish composers and songs from the American musical theater.

“Spirituals are those songs that ‘sprang’ into existence from horrific sufferings that Africans endured in their day to day existence,” Moses said. “Yiddish songs came about in the Jewish culture as they lived through their difficult Germanic existence.”

Moses has had many successes with American opera companies, performing major roles in The Marriage of Figaro, Regina, la Boheme, Albert Herring, Tremonisha, Rigoletto and The Magic Flute. His symphonic engagements include work with the Nashville, Jackson, Detroit, Lansing, Tacomo and Atlanta Symphony Orchestras.

Just before joining KSU in 1984, Moses toured Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Austria, and ended in Berlin, singing the role of Porgy in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.

“Through the struggles of this enslaved period it really was our songs that gave our people the strength and courage to endure the hardships,” said Moses. “Also showing and performing music that has been written for African Americans singers and performers and composed by Jewish American Composers.”

Moses said a lot of time went into planning the program, deciding which pieces they could perform, learning the different languages and styles, and rehearsing.

His CD recordings, “Deep River: Songs and Spirituals of Harry T. Burleigh” and “Amen! African-American Composers of the Twentieth Century,” are on Albany Records label. To learn more, visit his website, or contact Dr. Moses.

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