Friday concert celebrates CD release of Roland Carter's music

Roland Carter will accompany the UTC Chamber Singers on some selections at the concert celebrating the CD release of his music. Dr. Kevin Ford will conduct the concert Friday night, Feb. 12, at Second Presbyterian Church.
photo The UTC Chamber Singers

If you go

› What: Roland Carter CD release concert.› When: 7:30 pm. Friday, Feb. 12.› Where: Second Presbyterian Church, 700 Pine St.› Admission: Free, but donations accepted.› Phone: 423-266-2828.

A free concert Friday night, Feb. 12, will culminate a seven-year project by the Chamber Singers at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to record the music of Roland Carter for posterity.

The UTC singers will celebrate the release of their new CD, "Lift Every Voice and Sing: The Music of Roland M. Carter, Vol. 2," with a performance of selections from the album's 11 tracks at Second Presbyterian Church. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted to help fund the singers' tour of Ireland and Scotland in May. Anyone donating a minimum of $20 will receive a complimentary CD. A reception will follow the concert.

"We started a project in 2009 recording all of Roland Carter's choral music. Volume 1 came out that year and has sold fairly well nationally and internationally. This one has his signature 'Lift Every Voice and Sing,'" says Dr. Kevin Ford, Chamber Singers director.

Carter is professor emeritus and former Holmberg Professor of American Music at UTC. He served as head of the UTC Department of Music before retirement and also chaired Hampton University's Department of Music, where he conducted the internationally known Hampton choirs for nearly 25 years.

He is a nationally known composer, conductor and pianist and an authority on performance and preservation of African-American music. His compositions have not only been performed by music organizations worldwide, but in space as well. In 2006, "Lift Every Voice and Sing" was the wake-up call for astronauts aboard space shuttle Discovery.

Carter says selections on the CD span nearly five decades of his work. The album opens with "This Li'l Light of Mine" and includes a world premier of "Wonderful Mawnin'."

UTC soloists on the CD include baritone Connor Behrmann on "Plenty Good Room," mezzo-soprano Sara Hrivnak on "Same Train" and soprano Laura Wilkerson on "Hold Fast to Dreams," which is accompanied by the composer.

"As I have chosen to set spirituals that have special meaning and 'speak to me,' I elect to give little instruction in the scores as to how they are to be performed," Carter explains.

"It is my strong feeling that directors should bring something to the music and have something to say. Quite honestly, on occasion I have revised settings after having heard some wonderful interpretations. Contrary to popular opinion, spirituals 'do not sing themselves.' I simply ask musicians to bring the same care, musical knowledge and musicianship to these works that they would any other choral work."

Ford adds that many Chamber Singer alumni are returning for this concert and will sing pieces from Volume 1 before all singers combine to sing "Lift Every Voice" for the finale.

"Roland will be there, and we will put him to work playing piano," Ford promises.

Contact Susan Pierce at spierce@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6284.