The annual festival celebrates the music of African Americans and African-American composers through performances by Penn State students and faculty as well as guest artists. The festival began as a single concert in 1995, when Penn State’s choral group Essence of Joy performed a “Celebration of African American Spirituals.” Over the years the event has developed into a multi-day, multi-concert festival that has included high school and collegiate choirs and bands as well as artists and composers from the university and elsewhere.
A highlight of this year’s festival will be the performance of opera singer Louise Toppin, who has performed all over the world and is currently a member of “Gershwin on Broadway” with baritone Robert Sims and pianist Leon Bates. Toppin is chair of the Music Department at the University of North Carolina and was a finalist in the Munich International Competition.
In addition, composer, conductor and performer Rollo Dilworth will bring his talents to campus for the festival. Dilworth has conducted 43 all-state choirs in all levels of lower education and has had more than 150 of his choral compositions and arrangements published. He is chair of music education and music therapy at Temple University.
The festival is coordinated by Anthony Leach, a professor of music and music education at Penn State.
For more info, visit music.psu.edu/african-american-music-festival.
Feb. 9, 5:30 p.m. - concert in Esber Recital Hall
Feb. 10, 2:30 p.m. - concert during School of Music Common Hour
Feb. 10, 5:30 p.m. - concert in Esber Recital Hall
Feb. 11, 1 p.m. - Essence of Joy concert in Worship Hall of the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center