Montclair Chapter Uses DEI Grant to Celebrate Black History Month

With support from an American Recorder Society Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion grant, Montclair Early Music (MEM) was able to present “Jubilee 2024: A Musical Celebration of African American Composers,” as part of Black History Month in February 2024. A multigenerational ensemble of recorder players and other instrumentalists and vocalists brought to life the rich history of spiritual, folk, and jazz music from Black composers over the centuries. 
Narrated by acclaimed master storyteller Shirley Johnson, the program featured joyous, soulful, and inspiring performances from jazz pianist and composer Michael David Cochrane, bass player Michael Logan, tenor soloist Jeremy Watson, and soprano soloist Louisa Valentín. The consort of recorder players as well as string and percussion instrumentalists performed music ranging from the pre-colonial shores of Ghana and the sweltering plantations of the antebellum southern U.S., to the hard-won advances of the American civil rights movement and the glittering music halls and jazz lounges of today.
Montclair Early Music’s “Jubilee 2024” offered concertgoers a unique experience of African American history as it is heard in the music of Black composers and presented within a contextual narrative. The ninety-minute program showcased not only the beauty, versatility, and accessibility of the recorder for individuals of all backgrounds, but also music’s power to preserve and amplify the experiences and voices of the Black community. We are grateful to ARS for helping us showcase the music and lasting influence of Black composers through this unique fusion of history and culture, music composition and performance, and our love of the recorder.
Brian M. Brewer
Advancement Director
Montclair Early Music