This year, in an effort to be more inclusive, Marlborough’s music programs are implementing more works from BIPOC composers in their performances.
One of the biggest components in the choirs and ensembles are the use of spirituals, which were songs used to guide enslaved people to freedom during slavery. According to choir instructor Angela Lin the choirs are highlighting Black educators and voices through reworked poems and spirituals.
One example of a spiritual that was performed by the Chamber Choir is “Swing Low,” a song composed by Rosephanye Powell, a Black composer and educator. “Swing Low” has lyrics describing a river, which guided enslaved people to follow the river to the north to freedom.
All of Marlborough’s choirs also performed a piece titled “I Believe” by Mark Miller. The lyrics of the song are signifcant because they come from a poem written on a chamber wall by Jews during the Holocaust. Additionally, Concert Choir performed “I Dream A World,” a poem by Langston Hughes, and reworked by a Yale music professor Andre Thomas.
Lastly, all choirs performed a few Christmas pieces written by Tchaikovsky and arranged by Duke Ellington. Marlborough’s choir performance was on Friday, Dec. 11, at 5:30 p.m. through a virtual performance.
Furthermore, according to ensemble instructor Deborah Selove, Marlborough’s instrumental ensembles will also be performing songs that further the inclusion of some of BIPOC composers.
“For the ensembles, I worked to find beautiful classical pieces written by BIPOC composers and I can’t wait for them to be shared in future performances,” Sealove said.
Sealove says she improvised by using covers on YouTube of classical pieces done by BIPOC musicians, and that she will be including the medleys in the ensemble performances. Instrumental Ensemble will also be performing a rendition of a tribute for George Floyd done by a Black clarinetist of the Philharmonic orchestra.