Video: Final presentation of Research Unplugged Fall 2012 season

December 11, 2012

On November 15, the Research Unplugged speaker series closed its fall season with a talk by Professor of Music and Music Education Anthony Leach titled "A Joyful Noise: Choral Music from the African-American Tradition," along with a live performance by members of the Essence of Joy choir.

Leach, who was the 2009-2010 Penn State Laureate, teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in music education and conducts both the University Choir and Essence of Joy.

His Research Unplugged talk explored the sacred and secular roots of African-American songs. This video excerpt opens with Leach's commentary on a setting of "Ave Maria" by pioneering African-American composer R. Nathaniel Dett, followed by Essence of Joy's performance of that piece, with a solo by tenor David Schmiech.

The video concludes with Leach's thoughts on the shift at the turn of the century when African-American spirituals began to be performed for the American public in secular settings. Leach notes the influence of African-American composer and singer Harry T. Burleigh on the promotion of spirituals as a musical form and, specifically, his influence on composer Antonin Dvorák, with whom he collaborated at the National Conservatory of Music in the early 1890s. Burleigh exposed Dvorák to spirituals and slave songs that were woven into the thematic fabric of the Czech composer's Symphony No. 9, or New World Symphony.

A video excerpt of his presentation is available at

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated July 28, 2017