Conspirare entertained this past weekend with “Sing Freedom: African American Spirituals,” and we had audience-goers just like you attend and tell us how it was. Here’s what they thought of it.
There’s nothing new in saying that Conspirare is an Austin treasure. I had never heard them before, and for the first fifteen minutes I was simply speechless at the beauty of the sound. They sang African American spirituals for the entire program, and the tone of plaintive suffering was exquisitely apropos! The Director, Craig Johnson, keeps them in check and restrained at the beginning of the songs, and when the crescendo swells slowly at the end of the piece, you want to cry. The songs were arranged by several 20th century composers, some still living, who have elevated this folk music with African roots to “high art.” There were times when I wished for “less art,” and wanted the more robust unconstrained sounds of a gospel choir, but that’s not what Conspirare does. This is not down to earth, but very elevated and poetic stuff. The director talked about one of the pieces being inspired by a black woman of 19 who was auctioned, and how “it broke her heart.” Indeed.
From soft and delicate to bold and powerful the harmonizing voices of Conspirare were beautiful to hear. With the steady layering of voices, single voices were not solo for long. Throughout songs individual voices would emerge, soar, and absorb back into the choir. The songs were inspiring and poignant. The rendition of “Sometimes I feel Like a Motherless Child” brought a tear to my eyes as well as did some of the others. Other songs were energetic and joyful. All were performed with expression and depth elicited from the choir by Craig Hella Johnson’s interpretations of arrangements old and new. A church is a great choice for such a performance and the sound was perfect in St. Martin’s. Recommend this show especially to lovers of African American Spirituals and history.
And as amazing as that sounds, that was only one of the many events A-Teamers have the chance to get out and Get Their Art On with every week.
So join the Austin Creative Alliance and the Nowplayingaustin.com A-Team today, and Get Your Art On all the time.