Fisk University hosts 2nd annual ‘Upon These Shoulders’ concert

Upon These Shoulders is an annual concert in partnership with Intersection, Fisk University and Choral Arts Link. This year’s performance features the world-premiere of a newly commissioned work by composer Jonathan Bailey Holland exploring race, equity and youth, the Nashville premiere of Joel Thompson’s Seven Last Words of the Unarmed, and additional repertoire performed by Choral Arts Link, Intersection, and Fisk students and faculty.

Upon These Shoulders is an annual concert in partnership with Intersection, Fisk University and Choral Arts Link. This year’s performance features the world-premiere of a newly commissioned work by composer Jonathan Bailey Holland exploring race, equity and youth, the Nashville premiere of Joel Thompson’s Seven Last Words of the Unarmed, and additional repertoire performed by Choral Arts Link, Intersection, and Fisk students and faculty.

In partnership with Intersection, Nashville’s professional contemporary ensemble and Choral Arts Links, Inc., Fisk University will host the ‘Upon These Shoulders’ concert on January 11 in the Fisk Memorial Chapel. The performance features the world premiere of a work commissioned by Intersection from composer Jonathan Bailey Holland and the Nashville premiere of Joel Thompson’s Seven Last Words of the Unarmed.

Now in its second year, ‘Upon These Shoulders’ honors the life of Dr. King and the many heroes of the Civil Right Movement through music, spoken word and song. This year’s performance features the world-premiere of I Too Sing, a newly commissioned work for instrumental ensemble and youth chorus by composer Jonathan Bailey Holland, as well as the Nashville premiere of Seven Last Words of the Unarmed by Joel Thompson and additional repertoire performed by Choral Arts Link, Fisk Jubilee Singers and more.

Jonathan Bailey Holland is a Boston-based composer who has been commissioned by orchestras such as the Detroit, Baltimore and Cincinnati Symphonies. His latest work reflects experiences exploring race, equity and youth. Intersection recently brought Holland to Nashville to draw inspiration for the new work. He toured the Civil Rights Room, Creswell Middle Prep School and Fisk University.

Joel Thompson’s Seven Last Words of the Unarmed is a work for male chorus, strings and piano featuring seven movements representing the last words of seven different unarmed men who were killed by figures of authority. The performance features a community chorus including students from Fisk, Tennessee State, Lipscomb and more.

“The artistic community is seeking to add to the conversation and engage the healing process through works like Jonathan Bailey Holland’s I Too Sing and Joel Thompson’s Seven Last Words of the Unarmed, said Choral Arts Link Executive Director, Margaret Campbelle-Holman. “The conversations that arise after listening to these new works are needed to begin moving us forward in unity.”

The evening begins with a sensory engaging tour of the Carl Van Vechten Art gallery featuring performances from Fisk University students. The gallery will feature images from World War I, The Great Migration, Harlem Renaissance and A Celebration of The Harmon Foundation gift. Attendees will be met with song, poetry and movement that connect the art to the concert theme and bring the art to life.

Associate Professor Gwendolyn Brown and Van Vechten Gallery Curator Jamaal Sheats will curate the gallery for the evening.

Event performances begin in the Van Vechten with the Harlem Renaissance (get details from Jamaal/notes from our meeting) exhibit. The event continues in Memorial Chapel with the world premiere of My Lord What A Morning arranged by Dr. Cedric Dent, a new work by Jonathan Bailey Hollands, I Too Sing, commissioned by Intersection, and the Nashville premiere of Joel Thompson’s Seven Last Words of the Unarmed.

The climax of the evening will take place inside of the historic Fisk Chapel at 7 pm. The evening will feature performances from The Fisk Jubilee Singers, Intersection, MET Singers (Choral Arts Link) and Contralto Gwendolyn Brown. Nashville’s professional contemporary ensemble Intersection will showcase the world-premiere of a newly commissioned work by composer Jonathan Bailey Holland, I Too Sing, performed with the MET Singers, a signature program of CAL in its 20th season.

Intersection will also host a pre-concert discussion at NECAT Studios titled ‘Hope Unborn: The Intersection of Race, Arts and Democracy,’ on Jan. 10 at 6 pm to discuss the featured works in Upon These Shoulders.

The panel will feature composers Jonathan Bailey Holland and Joel Thompson with Metro Arts’ Cecilia Olusola Tribble moderating. The event is free, but RSVP is required.