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This one-hour, outdoor reflection and celebration of Charleston’s continued pursuit of freedom in alignment with the bicentennial recognition of the execution of Denmark Vessey and his 33 associates. The program highlights the promise of America, the promise of freedom and pursuit of liberty, in juxtaposition to the experience of Vessey and other enslaved individuals endeavors on the same soil.

The promise of America is illustrated by Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” a fanfare born out of wartime but dedicated to the citizens experiencing the pains of war, with simultaneous poems outlining what America should be.

The presence of Antonin Dvorak and James Reese Europe is brought forward for their respective and tied efforts to fight for equality in music and in society. It was Dvorak who first championed the voice of African-America folk idioms and traditions to be the very identity of American classical music. His legacy led to James Reese Europe – one of WWI’s most decorated heroes, composer, band leader of the Harlem Hellfighter, and pioneer for jazz having a global presence. Through his efforts domestically and abroad Reese Europe is very much the 20th century echo of Denmark Vessey.

An acknowledgment of reflection of 34 persons executed via recitation of their names during Adolphus Hailstork’s “Epitaph for a Man Who Dreamed,” a work Hailstork wrote in dedication to the lifework and martyrdom of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Select movements of Joel Thompson’s “Seven Last Words of the Unarmed,” a work written as unflinching look gazed at one of our modern day struggles for freedom and agency as each movement is written for an unarmed black man who was killed by law enforcement.

The program ends not in hope but expectation and renewal of fervor with Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” and John Legend/Common’s “Glory” from the film Selma.

July 16, 2022

Charleston Gaillard Center
95 Calhoun Street
Charleston, SC 29401

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(843) 242-3099

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