Gerald R. Knight, assistant professor of music, spent most of the week of March 19-25 participating in a historic conference at UNC Chapel Hill. The conference, Videmus@25, celebrated the contribution made to classical music by women, African Americans, and underrepresented composers.
The conference was historic due to its scope and to the many legendary performers, composers, scholars, and pedagogues from around the country that attended and participated in the many panels and performances.
In addition, faculty from UNC Chapel Hill and several of the university’s ensembles also took part.
Herbie Hancock, famed jazz musician, performed on Thursday evening.
Knight, who is a tenor, performed solo art songs on one of the recitals that featured some of the most exceptional singers in the country. The recital concluded with an aria from the opera “Amistad” sang by the critically acclaimed soprano, Marquita Lister, who has performed in many of the major opera houses of the world. In addition, Knight was selected to be moderator of the panel “Spiritual vs. Art Song: A Matter of Interpretation”. The panelists were Dr. Uzee Brown (professor of music, Morehouse University) and Dr. Willis Patterson (emeritus professor of voice and associate dean, University of Michigan), who are acknowledged scholars and speak on the topic frequently and have significant spiritual and art song publications. Knight framed the panel discussion with a practical analysis of the development of the spiritual and art song and from a philosophical perspective evolving from Richard Kapp’s conceptualization of “context” and the human experience. Dr. Knight also suggested and assisted in the planning and execution of the choral sessions during the conference.
An unexpected opportunity prevailed when Knight, who teaches voice here at Elon, had the opportunity to engage in a private conversation with George Shirley, Distinguished University Emeritus Professor of Music and former Director of the Vocal Arts Division of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance, about vocal pedagogy. Dr. Shirley, who is a Grammy Award winner, garnered international recognition for his excellent performances at major opera houses around the world and the Metropolitan Opera. Knight remarked, “I will be so excited to share what I learned from Dr. Shirley with the singers in my studio, University Chorale, and choral methods class.”
Reflecting back Knight admits that it was an amazing and very humbling experience to walk into a room to sing and to speak in front of people whose substantial accomplishments and careers are legendary, critically acclaimed, and noted in history.