Dear Idyllwild Arts Community,
Each February we look forward to the Black History Month Concert presented by Marshall Hawkins and featuring the Seahawk Modern Jazz Orchestra (MOJO). The concert is very special and now at eighty years old, Marshall is still teaching and allowing his students to play alongside these accomplished professionals.
With Marshall Hawkins, there is no difference between a performance space and a practice space. Both are classrooms where learning and the exchange of ideas are meant to occur. Marshall somehow manages to lead and share while allowing the deepest part of our humanity to come forth and connect.
During the concert, the audience heard a musician playing the spoons and they were introduced to hand jive, a type of music that uses the body as a drum. We were treated to a composition titled “The Search,” by Harry Pickens, a Jazz in the Pines favorite. A highlight of the evening was when Marshall honored Vice President of Educational Programs Marianne Kent-Stoll and her husband Don Stoll, of our Marketing and Admission offices, for the extraordinary nonprofit work they have been doing for the past twelve years in Tanzania, in East Africa. Marshall’s original composition was titled “Theme for A World Citizen.”
Perhaps for me, the most moving part of the evening was at the top of the program, with “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” often called the “Negro National Anthem.” I remember singing the anthem as a very young girl. Then as a musician in high school, it was my honor to play the piano accompaniment for all school assemblies. As deep as my childhood memories are, I was moved to new emotions as I listened to the pianist Joshua White’s bluesy rendition joined by Yve Evans’ gospel utterances, taking this familiar anthem to a new height.
Black History Month offers a time to reflect on the past and a time to look forward with hope toward the future. I am grateful to Marshall Hawkins and the Idyllwild Arts community for continuing the time-honored tradition of celebrating African American heritage. Idyllwild Arts is a microcosm of different nationalities, cultures, and ethnicities, and I am grateful to call this wonderful place home.
“Lift Every Voice and Sing”
Lift every voice and sing, ’til earth and Heaven ring
Ring with the harmonies of liberty
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on ’til victory is won.
President and Head of School