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Wind Ensemble performs concert ‘Lift Every Voice’

This event was CANCELLED due to inclement weather 

The Pittsburg State University Wind Ensemble performed their first concert of the semester entitled “Lift Every Voice.” 

The ensemble, under the direction of professor of music Andrew Chybowski, performed a livestreamed concert from the Linda and Lee Scott Performance Hall at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts. The concert was livestreamed Thursday, Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m. Their repertoire contained a variety of music, specifically with music from composers who come from a variety of cultural, ethnic and musical backgrounds. Featured composers include Omar Thomas and his piece, “Of Our New Day Begun,” and Julie Giroux which includes a special feature performance from professor of violin Raúl Munguía. Giroux’s music was recently featured at the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. 

“It’s an interesting mix of music,” Chybowski said. “For this coming concert, we’re doing the Omar Thomas (“Of Our New Day Begun”) which I’m really excited about… It’s a really powerful piece and it plays to a lot of the strengths of the members of this ensemble…” 

“Of Our New Day Begun” was commissioned by the Western Kentucky University Wind Ensemble to honor the deaths of nine people who were killed during the 2015 white supremacist attack on Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charlotte, South Carolina. The piece features musical quotes from the hymn, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” sometimes referred to as the “Black National Anthem.” 

“I think one of the ideas behind the concert is that you can’t separate the music from its original culture,” Chybowski said. “I think we’re lucky and privileged to have all these cultures to draw from… In education, sometimes we’re very limited in what we actually program so this is kind of like a celebration of music that wouldn’t exist without the combination of many different cultures and backgrounds… That extra musical element is really important to me…” 

The ensemble performed with COVID-19 safety precautions in place including social distance, specialized masks for playing instruments, as well as bell covers for instruments that require them to play. 

“It’s still kind of weird playing so spaced out,” said Edith Sigler, senior in music. “It’s a lot harder to hear but I think we’re becoming accustomed to our current setup… Once this pandemic is over, it will be interesting for these students who have never played with the wind ensemble before except during this time, what that experience will be like for them… With some of these freshmen this is their only experience thus far. They don’t have any conception of what we do here outside of the pandemic…” 

The performance also featured members of the PSU Choirs on “Of Our New Day Begun.” Thomas wrote a short section for voices to sing while stomps and claps occur. Originally, the piece calls for the performers on stage to sing a verse of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” but instead, utilized guest performers singing from the balcony in the Linda and Lee Scott Performance Hall. 

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