The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) invites families to uncover the African origins of jazz, blues and beyond on Saturday, March 2 at 11 a.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Musical Roots: From Africa to America, led by Maestro Damon Gupton, will bring new life to jazz, blues and ragtime standards through exciting performances by Baltimore-based beatboxer Shodekeh, pianist Eric Conway, Baltimore City College Choir, tapmaster Karen Callaway Williams and OrchKids. Children age five and up are welcome to attend. Please see below for complete program details.
Jazz, blues and ragtime trace their origins to the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the United States. These three genres are particularly interesting because of their blend of African, European and American musical styles. While these genres are a singularly American creation, often coming out of New Orleans, or the "the melting pot of sound," to the BSO will trace the African drumbeats, hymns, spirituals and work songs that form the basis for these styles.
The program will feature pieces from jazz legends such as Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Baltimore's own Eubie Blake, Scott Joplin-the "King of Ragtime"-and more.
Baltimore-based and acclaimed beat boxer Shodekeh will perform Steve Reich's Clapping Music and "Fujiko's Fairy Tale." Reich is an American composer known as a minimalist and has said to "create a piece of music that needed no instruments beyond the human body," which is perfectly suited for the talented Shodekeh, whose "instrument travels in his soul." Beatboxing itself draws from African click language and American scat singing, yet another way that today's most popular musical styles have journeyed from Africa to America.