June 14: Black Composers – Croatia, 2011

Jon CurtisSeason of the Day, SOTD - June

We conclude Consort’s series of black composers to honor and support the Black Lives Matter movement.  We are gratified by the progress that is taking place across the U.S. and the world, and we hope this is only the beginning of even greater healing and changes in our lives, safety and health, our diverse culture, and in the arts.

Each of our tours has included several spirituals which have been well received in Europe and South America.  While this musical form originated with the enslavement of African people in the American South, its popularity has spread to all parts of the world.  An article in the Library of Congress explains of the roots of this music: “… the slave population was fascinated by Biblical stories containing parallels to their own lives and created spirituals that retold narratives about Biblical figures like Daniel and Moses.”  Along with this music’s appeal and resonance with audiences worldwide, we have seen these narratives play out in our own lives, through the Black Lives Matter movement, and in many of the places we have toured. 

This video of Dr. Rosephanye Dunn Powell’s arrangement of “Motherless Child” was set during our tour of the Dalmatian Coast, in 2011.  It begins on the road from Plitvice Lakes National Park to the capital city of Croatia, Zagreb.  The ethnic war, after the breakup of Yugoslavia, began with the “Plitvice Lakes Incident” when the Serbs attempted to take over the park in 1991.  The war lasted until 2001, ending only ten years prior to our tour.  While the reconstruction of the country was amazing and beautiful, the road to Zagreb still showed many homes riddled with bullet holes.

The video begins with an introduction by our tour guide, Andrea Berkovic, in Plitvice.  As a child living in Zagreb, she told us that the war did not quite reach that far.  But her school was filled with many homeless refugee children from other parts of the country.

The song itself was filmed in a sweltering, but well attended, concert at the Parish of St. Joseph in Zagreb, following Mass.  The latter half of the video shows scenes from Zagreb’s Mirogoj Cemetery.  The video’s settings around the Croatian War of Independence hopefully serves as a reminder of how much we could loose and suffer if we don’t work now to make the changes we need for more fair and supportive relationships between our own diverse ethnicities.

Sometimes ah feel like a motherless chil’ a long ways from home.
Bokaya ya, (West African, meaning “something terrible has happened”)
Nu wo vinowo he (“something has happened to mothers”).
Sometimes ah feel like ahm almos’ gon’
Way off in duh heav’nly lan’, true believuh.

After seeing yesterday's "Elijah Rock" by Moses Hogan,
Judith shared this link you might enjoy:
(You may need hover over the video and click unmute.)