Professor in the School of Music at Belmont University, Dr. Jeffery Ames will premiere his composed masterwork entitled Requiem for Colour in the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 7:30 p.m.
Ames is a highly accomplished conductor, accompanist and performer who has performed and guest conducted in more than half a dozen countries. He is nationally renowned for his distinguished reputation as a well-respected composer and arranger, and his music has been premiered by a vast array of associations and televised concerts and shows.
Requiem for Colour is a labor of love that developed from an idea more than a decade ago. This one-night only feature performance will revisit the conflicts and successes of the Black race through a requiem- a mass for the dead.
“What resulted is a musical, literary, and visual journey that begins in West Africa and ends in present-day North America,” Ames said. “Requiem for Colour will honor the lives and legacies of enslaved blacks from 1619 to 1865, and our contemporary Black martyrs who offered themselves as a sacrifice for equality and freedom.”
The logo of the requiem is inspired by the symbol for Sankofa, an African word from the Akan tribe in the West African country of Ghana. Sankofa means “to return and get it.” It depicts the importance of learning from the past. Ames’ work serves as a lesson and celebration of Black “colourfulness” by honoring the challenges and triumphs of the Black American journey and highlighting vibrant and varied musical styles from Spirituals to Rap and the genres that lie in between.
Joining Ames in the requiem’s debut is accomplished soprano recitalist and an opera performer NaGuanda Nobles who has performed with the Pittsburgh Opera, Atlanta Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Dayton Opera. Tenor Rodrick Dixon who has performed at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall, among his many accomplishments, will also join Ames on the Fisher Center stage. Dixon has a talent for crossover genres performing in major opera houses throughout the world and on Broadway.
Seasoned performer Roshaunda Rosa-Orta who currently serves as the Director of Student Transitions and Community Engagement at Vanderbilt University will orate excerpts from slave biographies and select poems, speeches and scripture.
“In a time when history is being erased and rewritten, it is essential to share accurate information about the past,” Rosa-Orta said. “One of the best ways to share that information is through art. Art unites human beings and allows us to understand our experiences in beautiful ways. It is an honor to serve as the griot of this piece, using spoken words to elevate the stunning music.”
Ames will conduct the Belmont University Oratorio and orchestra which is comprised of over 450 students. A display of visual imagery and descriptive narration will coincide with the musical movements to create an immersive experience for the audience.
“This requiem will provide an aesthetic experience celebrating West African culture before traveling the perilous journey across the Atlantic, recounting slavery and sharecropping in the South, revisiting Civil Rights of the 60s, and reckoning with our current societal vices of racism and injustice,” Ames said.
Registration is required but Requiem for Colour is free to the public. To register for a ticket, visit the Requiem for Colour webpage.