by Jarrett Hoffman
EVENTS DURING BLACK HISTORY MONTH:
Here’s one upside to the fact that so much is still happening online these days: this year’s Black History Month offers an easy opportunity for you to experience a wide range of programs, and to continue enriching your appreciation of Black artists and your understanding of race.
Below, we’ve selected a handful of such events in classical music happening throughout February — and as early as today. We’ve also gathered a sampling of events in other artistic fields and outside the arts. Most are explicitly tied to Black History Month, while others could easily fall under that category. And Northeast Ohio is the focus, but we also include a few offerings of interest from outside the region.
First up, tonight at 7:30 pm brings the latest episode of the SalonEra series from Les Délices. “Afro-Caribbean Roots” explores the first iterations of Haiti in the Classical music tradition, as well as modinhas by Joaquin Manoel da Câmara and rarely-performed songs and arrangements by Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. It’s free, but a donation of $10 is suggested. See the full program, watch a trailer, and get tickets here.
Both the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame are examining the role of music in the fight for social justice and racial equality. On Wednesday, February 3 at noon, as part of the Desktop Dialogues series, CMA presents “The Politics of Sound” (register here). And throughout this month, Rock Hall offers an exhibit titled “It’s Been Said All Along: Voices of Rage, Hope & Empowerment,” available either in person or virtually.
Oberlin Conservatory is putting on several programs around the theme of Celebrating Black Artistry. An introductory event is scheduled on Thursday, February 4 at 7:30 pm, followed by a symposium titled “Decentering the Canon in the Conservatory” on Saturday, February 6 at 1:30 pm and faculty concerts on February 11, 18, 25, and 28. More information is available here, where those events can also be streamed.
And on Friday, February 5 at 8:00 pm, the Oberlin College Black Musicians’ Guild will present a guest recital and Q&A featuring flutist, composer, and vocalist Nathalie Joachim (pictured above). That program takes place on Zoom — details here.
Moving into other sides of the arts, throughout the month of February, Karamu House is offering a virtual, on-demand musical documentary detailing the story behind Shuffle Along, the historic musical which celebrates its centennial this year. That and a series of live, virtual events from the theater on Fridays this month can be found here.
Playhouse Square has two free streaming performances cued up in honor of Black History Month: Stono by Step Afrika! (February 1-14) and Rhapsody in Black by LeLand Gantt (February 22-28) — click those links to register.
Maybe experiencing art out in the world is more the way you’d like to celebrate Black History Month. If so, here are a few murals to check out: “Black Lives Matter” (E. 93rd St. in Cleveland), “Storytime (BLM)” (Moodie Building at 410 E. 156th St. in Cleveland), the Underground Railroad Mural (Willis Street in Bedford), and four of the #VoicesofCLE murals that are still on view at North Coast Harbor. Art installations of interest include “Protest” at the Cleveland Public Library Langston Hughes Branch and the African American Garden in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens.
And moving further afield, the Metropolitan Opera begins this week’s theme of “Black History Month, Part I” with Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess tonight at 7:30 pm (click here at start time and view the upcoming schedule here). On Thursday, February 4 at 7:30 pm, the Celebrity Series of Boston presents Castle Of Our Skins in a program titled “Remember King” focusing on the legacy and the complicated life of Martin Luther King Jr. (View here). [Editors’ note: the concert from Castle of Our Skins has been postponed to February 18 at 7:00 pm.] And later on Thursday evening, February 4 at 8:00 pm Eastern Time, the Houston-based River Oaks Chamber Orchestra presents a “Celebration of Margaret Bonds.” (Watch here.)
Finally, click these links to explore local events outside the realm of the arts from Oberlin College, the Western Reserve Historical Society/Cleveland History Center, curator Shelli Reeves (“The Rise of Black Glenville”), and Kent State University.