“A Reflection on Identity, Empowerment, and Justice for All”


Faculty and students of the College of Music and Dramatic Arts and the LSU “A Capella Choir” performed in the rotunda of the Environmental and Coastal Engineering Building on Tuesday, Oct. 4 at 3:30 p.m.

It was standing room only as Espen Lilleslaten, associate professor of violin, and Dianne Frazer, collaborative piano professional-in-residence, took the stage. Their piece of choice “Mother and Child” from Violin Suite by William Grant Still, the first African American to conduct a major U.S. Orchestra,  was breathtaking.

The audience was at full attention, captivated by the rise and fall of the beautiful melody. The only other sounds were the click of cameras and the restrained coughs of the audience.

The Rotunda in which they were playing created a beautiful a backdrop. The skylight in the ceiling provided just enough lighting to make the event seem almost heavenly.

The piece ended and as if on cue, another performer took the stage, Orator Maja Dupas. She engaged us with her piece “Our God is Marching On!” by Martin Luther King Jr. In her passion for the piece, a tear slid down her face and she took a second to fix her notes. Her voice filled the space as she continued her recitation.

Next was a cluster of opera singers, and they took the stage one by one, all singing lines from the same piece entitled “Songs of Love and Justice by Adolphus Halistork. First, was Monica Music, a sophomore, who began with “When evil men plot, good men must plan.” Second, was sophomore Marenda Natera, who sang, “It is difficult to like someone bombing your home; it is difficult to like someone threatening your children.” Third, was sophomore McKenzie Miller who sang the section of this piece entitled Decisions. Last, was senior DeAundre’ Woods, who ended the piece with, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”

The next performer was Nathan Turner, also an orator. “I am tired physically and emotionally”, he said as he recited the words of a Facebook post made by Montrell Jackson, a police officer killed in a recent Baton Rouge shooting.

“Fix me, Jesus” by Hall Johnson, was the next performance we were privy to as senior, Prentiss Mouton took the stage and filled the room with his voice.

Alexandra Abney, orator and junior at LSU introduced the next piece entitled “The Fruit of Silence” by Mother Theresa.

Before she was able to take her seat, a large group of men and women clad in purple polo shirts surrounded the audience, the LSU Acapella singers, and graced us with their rendition of “The Fruit of Silence” by Peteris Vasks.

The room was silent. The occasional click of cameras was gone. There were no coughs, sneezes or shuffles. There was nothing more than the lilt of their voices, and it was enough to bring audience members to tears.

When they concluded, a small pause ensued before the audience stood up and erupted into cheers and hand claps.

Victoria Cleveland




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