Program to Support Graduate Conducting Students Announces Fall 2022 Recipient

Published: 8 November 2022

Christopher Ducasse is the Fall 2022 recipient of the Program to Support Graduate Conducting Students in the Study and Performance of Music by Composers from Underrepresented Groups. This 3-year pilot initiative is a collaboration between the Schulich School of Music, the Marvin Duchow Music Library and its Gertrude Whitley Performance Library.

The Program seeks to highlight the study of works by composers from underrepresented groups, in alignment with the University’s Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Strategic Plan and Anti-Black Racism Action Plan. Through financial support of up to $1,000 per individual toward the rental or purchase of one musical work (or multiple short works for Choral Conducting students), the Program enables graduate students in Schulich’s Orchestral and Choral Conducting Programs to access scores not held by the Performance Library collection. The Program aims to enrich the educational experience of conducting students and acknowledge their potential to bring positive influence and change to musical performance at McGill and beyond.

In his upcoming master's recital on November 11, Christopher will be conducting a number of choral pieces, including works / arrangements by Michael Barret and Raif Schmitt, Cedric Dent, Undine Smith Moore and Sydney Guillaume. You can discover more about the works listed below from the program notes prepared by Christopher in our Event Calendar listing.

Indodana is a dramatic South African song, sung a cappella at slow speeds. Arranged by Michael Barrett and Raif Schmitt, two composers deeply familiar with the genre, Indodana is a traditional Xhosa hymn lamenting loss.

He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, arranged by Cedric Dent, is a traditional Black spiritual sung a cappella. Introduced to global pop culture as a single by Laurie London with the Geoff Love Orchestra and Chorus, this anonymous spiritual rose out of African American oral tradition and has become one of the most widely known and loved spirituals worldwide.

We Shall Walk Through the Valley in Peace is arranged by Undine Smith Moore — known as “The Dean of Black Women Composers.” Though she trained as a classical pianist, her heart lay in vocal music, and she composed numerous choral works, most of which were inspired by African and African American spiritual and folk music. We Shall Walk Through the Valley in Peace is a traditional black American spiritual evoking stillness, peace, and hope.

Ansanm Ansanm translated from Haitian Creole means Together, Together. Composed by Sydney Guillaume, a Haitian choral composer known for his spirited, passionate works and arrangements, Ansanm Ansanm is a story of honour, courage, and respect.

Mama Afrika, also written by Sydney Guillaume, is a rhythmic cry of a Haitian troubadour who laments for “Mama Afrika” to return among the hunger, strife and chaos in Haiti and Africa.

Congratulations again to Christopher Ducasse! We look forward to exploring the music and composers put forth by our conducting students and through this initiative.

For more information about the Program to Support Graduate Conducting Students in the Study and Performance of Music by Composers from Underrepresented Groups, please contact houman.behzadi [at] (Houman Behzadi), Head Librarian at the Marvin Duchow Music Library.

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