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School of Music

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Amplify Voices

Bridge 2

We commit to programming music that amplifies underrepresented voices. Our intention is to promote equity in our field while championing the diversity of global and American musics as well as the distinct sounds from our home in Carolina.

The Legacy of Richard Greener in Song

In 2017, the School of Music hosted and stage the world premiere of several chamber music pieces composed in honor of UofSC professor Richard Greener. The guest composers were Valerie Coleman and Jeff Scott of the famed chamber music group, Imani Winds. The pieces included spoken-word segments taken from Richard Greener speeches and letters or were inspired by his historic time at the University of South Carolina in the shadows of the Civil War in America. In 2020, on the eve of the presidential election and in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, professor Mike Harley and other music school faculty organized a socially distanced re-staging of the Greener pieces on November 1st on the Russell House patio stage. For 2021’s Martin Luther King, Jr. series of events, Mike Harley aired excerpts of Scott’s “A Pioneer’s Opus” and Coleman’s “Glory” from that event. After the virtual concert, composer Jeff Scott and featured baritone from “Glory,” Kendrick Williams led a live discussion with School of Music professors Michael Harley and Birgitta Johnson about the legacy of Richard Greener, the role of African Americans in modern classical music and the ways in which social justice themes have always been a part of Black artists’ legacies in the art music world. The discussion included a Q&A session with virtual audience members.

Brighter Beginnings

Brighter Beginnings is a multi-genre band comprised of current UofSC students and members of the Grant family from Lugoff, South Carolina. For the 2021 Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration series of events, Brighter Beginnings created a 30-minute classic show band concert reminiscent of stage shows by artists such as James Brown and Prince and the Revolution. Their pre-recorded concert pays tribute to the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement and its impact among young activists movements of today. The concert includes pop, gospel, jazz, and rhythm and blues music across several eras to represent themes of love, war, and the power of unity in helping people come together for change. The concert  includes a bit of South Carolina music history as well. Some members of the band are related to famed rhythm and blues legend, Brook Benton from Lugoff. School of Music senior voice major, Nigel Grant  wrote a new arrangement for his uncle’s 1971 protest themed song, “Take a Look at Your Hands,” for the show.  The 30 minute virtual concert was followed by a 25 minute live discussion and Q&A session with audience attendees. Discussion panelists included Nigel Grant, Brianna Grant, and ethnomusicologist, Dr. Birgitta Johnson (UofSC School of Music/African American Studies Program). The panelists discussed the music featured in the concert and also the historic and continued role of Black music in freedom movements in America today. 

Musical Tribute to Richard Greener as part of Southern Exposure series

In a bridge connecting the university and nation’s present with its past — and a clear-eyed look at racial injustices that are still perpetuated today — UofSC music faculty performed works commissioned for the 2018 unveiling of the Cooper Library statue dedicated to Richard T. Greener, the university’s first African American professor and the first Black graduate of Harvard.  By Valerie Coleman and Jeff Scott, two of the country’s leading African American composers, “Glory” and “A Pioneer’s Opus” celebrate Greener’s life and legacy, setting his own words, original poetry, and Langston Hughes’ “Let American be America Again.”

The outdoor concert for a limited audience was held at the Russell House Patio Stage not far from Greener’s statue.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.