If you are in in Memphis this weekend, be sure to check out "Celebrating the Past: Creating a Future," a free, community-inclusive family concert to celebrate Black History Month.
The concert, co-presented by the IRIS Orchestra and the Clayborn Temple, will take place at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, February 18, at the historic Temple.
IRIS' latest initiative, IRIS Artist Fellows "C3Strings," was established in 2016 and features a multicultural string trio including Ashley Vines, viola; Ajibola Rivers, cello: and Mariama Alcântara, violin. The trio will join a host of local schools for the concert in celebration of diversity. The production will be interactive, with blended narration and musical performances, including oral histories by leaders, such as Art for Life’s Sake Director Dr. Hattie Isen, who had front row seats to the early Civil Rights Movement. A full-house sing-along will be part of the evening of remembrance and celebration of unity.
The song selections for the concert include "Lift Every Voice and Sing," also known as the "Black American National Anthem," as well as Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," and "Beale Street Blues," a 1916 W.C. Handy song, as a tribute to Memphis.
“Music is one of the most exciting and powerful ways to bring communities together,” Vines said. “It's my honor to participate in this project, which will not only bring together some of Memphis's best arts organizations and schools, but also reignite the community surrounding Clayborn Temple.”
The Clayborn Temple served as home base for the sanitation worker strikes of 1968, and recently received a $400,000 National Parks Service restoration grant to serve the community and new generations through religious, educational and community presentations.
The event's narrator will be Kenon Walker. Kenon is an actor who has helped develop guided tours for the National Civil Rights Museum and the Stax Museum and is the events manager at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.
IRIS Artist Fellowship is designed to address the underrepresentation of African Americans and Latinos in the classical music.