University to host evening of spirituals featuring the Fisk Jubilee Singers and Aeolians

(Top) The Fisk Jubilee Singers and The Aeolians.

(Top) The Fisk Jubilee Singers and The Aeolians.

BLACKSBURG, Va., Feb. 6, 2009 – Virginia Tech is hosting The Fisk Jubilee Singers from Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., and the Aeolians from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Ala., who will take the stage Friday, Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. at the Lyric Theatre in Blacksburg.

The concert, sponsored by the Office for Equity and Inclusion, is free and open to the public. Tickets, which are very limited in number, will be available Feb. 6 through the University Unions and Student Activities ticket office in Squires Student Center.

The Fisk Jubilee Singers, under the direction of Paul T. Kwami, Curb-Beaman Chair, are “an American a cappella ensemble that performs Negro spirituals originally sung by slaves prior to the Civil War.” The Aeolians, under the direction of Jason Max Ferdinand, perform a collection of choral music that ranges from the Baroque era to the twentieth century and Negro spirituals.

The original Jubilee Singers, a group assembled in 1871, are credited with introducing “slave songs” to the world. Breaking through racial barriers in the United States and abroad, the group was instrumental in preserving this unique American musical tradition known as Negro spirituals. The Aeolians, organized in 1946, “are an authoritative exponent of Negro spirituals and work-songs which express the yearnings of our forefathers to be free.”

The Fisk Jubilee Singers and the Aeolians have earned national and international recognition for their performances. The Fisk Jubilee Singers first toured Europe in 1873. In 2007, the group was invited by the U.S. Embassy to perform in Ghana, Africa, to help celebrate the country’s Golden Jubilee Anniversary celebration. The Aeolians have performed in Bermuda, Canada, and Warsaw, Poland. Serving as Friendship Ambassadors for the United States, the Aeolians also toured Romania and Great Britain.

The Fisk Jubilee Singers have received several awards that include: 2008 National Medal of Arts, 2006 Music City Walk of Fame, 2004 Dove Award, 2000 Induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and in 1996 the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the National Arts Club of New York. The Aeolians have recorded several albums: Oh Freedom, which sold over 10,000 copies, Together In Concert, and Together Again, which were joint concerts with the wind ensemble of the University of Alabama, both albums were aired on public television. The Aeolians have also made appearances on Good Morning America on ABC and the Morning Show on CBS.

For additional information please contact Ray Plaza at (540) 231-7289.