The African American Choral Ensemble will present a concert Wednesday in honor of Black History Month.
The free concert gives the ensemble a chance to celebrate African American culture at the campus level, said Marcus Simmons, IU doctoral student and road manager for the African American Arts Institute.
“Part of the goal is to educate the broader community and the world, but we don’t always educate across campus,” he said. “So I think it’s special that we get this opportunity.”
The choral ensemble is one of the African American Arts Institute’s three campus musical groups. The School of Education organized the annual concert to celebrate Black History Month on campus.
Raymond Wise will direct the almost 50-person ensemble in songs ranging from traditional African pieces to present-day gospel music.
He will share the significance of each song with the audience throughout the concert to educate them, said Hannah Crane, the African American Arts Institute events and communications specialist.
“They typically start with some sort of African song, so they’re traveling from Africa to the Americas,” she said. “And they kind of go in a chronological order going through history with the music, bringing us to present day.”
In 2018 the choir began welcoming AACE alumni and IU faculty, staff and students to join in song during part of the concert.
“There are actually a lot of alumni of the choral ensemble on campus who are in faculty and staff positions,” Crane said.
The return of alumni to both watch and perform is one of the best parts of the concert, Simmons said.
“It gives them a chance to sort of relive their college years and stay connected,” he said.
Simmons said the choral ensemble is the first place where many students have been shown what they can achieve, and many look up to the alumni when they come back.
“It’s nice to see other people who have been in my seat and have worn my robe, my dashiki, and have been in my position do what they’re doing,” he said. “It’s nice to be inspired by them.”
Senior Luther Gill joined AACE in the fall to “go out with a bang” in his final year at IU. He said he is excited to give the faculty a chance to join in song with the ensemble, too.
“You have faculty members who have a hidden talent of singing or who are musically talented, and they get to showcase their abilities alongside AACE,” he said.
Gill said while Black History Month is devoted to African American history and culture, it also recognizes those who have aided in African American civil rights over the years. Because of this, he said the ensemble’s performance represents Black History Month because many different cultures come together to celebrate.
“AACE is a really diverse musical group,” he said. “So it brings us together in unity.”
The concert will take place 11:45 a.m. Wednesday in the School of Education atrium.
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