Join us for this Zoom conversation with prominent contemporary composer Brandon Waddles, Amherst College Director of Choral Activities Arianne Abela, and local historian Steve Strimer '72 of the David Ruggles Center as we discuss the upcoming world premiere of Waddles' new choral work "The Beauty of Colour." Dr. Waddles will also describe his career as a successful composer, and Dr. Abela will discuss her own journey to become a prominent conductor and soloist, as well as her professional vocal ensemble Kaleidoscope, which pursues "artistic excellence, while celebrating racial, ethnic and gender diversity." The discussion will be moderated by Martin L. Garnar, director of libraries at Amherst College, with an introduction by Amherst Cultural Council co-Chair Matt Holloway.
Dr. Waddles composed "The Beauty of Colour" in honor of David Ruggles, a prominent abolitionist who died in Florence, Mass., at the age of 39. Described by his contemporaries as the "soul of the Underground Railroad," Ruggles helped some 600 captives flee North,* including Frederick Douglass, who wrote of him, "He was a whole-souled man, fully imbued with a love of his afflicted and hunted people, and took pleasure in being to men as ... eyes to the blind and legs to the lame."
Dr. Waddles' piece weaves elements from William Cowper's "The Negro's Complaint," which was performed by the Hutchinson Family Singers when Frederick Douglass first visited our area.
Dr. Waddles' new work was commissioned by Dr. Abela and Illuminati Vocal Arts Ensemble to complement two other pieces on the program for their Feb. 11 concert Mercy: Heinrich Schütz's "Musikalische Exequien," the first German Requiem, considered by many the greatest work of German music before Bach; and the regional premiere of David Lang's Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Little Match Girl Passion," a reflection on the haunting story by Hans Christian Andersen.
The Zoom discussion is sponsored by Amherst College, Amherst High School, the Amherst Cultural Council, the South Hadley Cultural Council, the Jones Library, Forbes Library, the South Hadley Public Library and the David Ruggles Center. "The Beauty of Colour" will premiere at the Feb. 11 concert Mercy, which is supported in part by a grant from the South Hadley Cultural Council, a local agency supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.