Rochelle Small Clifford
Wichita native Rochelle Small Clifford returns to celebrate Wichita Collegiate School's 50th Anniversary in a weekend of song and celebration. The weekend kicks off with an informal coffeehouse on Friday night at Wichita Collegiate, and culminates with a performance celebrating 50 years of fine arts at Collegiate. Rochelle will then offer a personal recital at Wichita Collegiate's Galichia Auditorium on Sunday, May 4, joined by Sherri Pilgreen on piano, which promises to be quite unique. One quarter of all ticket sales is being donated to Arts Partners Wichita, a local organization dedicated to making arts experiences accessible to young people as well as using the arts to assist in their general studies.
On her Sunday recital, Rochelle Small Clifford is thrilled to debut a new cycle of songs on which she collaborated with internationally celebrated composer Valerie Coleman Page (Wayne Shorter, Imani Winds) to write. This cycle, "Trailing Tears to Triumph" consists of three songs which focus on themes central to her roots here. Soil, to She, is an a capella vocalise on her relationship to the scent of the soil in this region, most specifically Oklahoma and Kansas. "It is as though the very souls of my ancestors are calling to me, it is a welcoming back, a comfort, a validation." "Silver Coins" is a glance into the complex landscape concerning the Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes. Her desire to produce this piece was rooted in a deep seated pride for her many ancestors, slaves owned by Cherokees and Creeks, who survived the bitter Trail of Tears to help settle the West. Lastly, CWW is a stirring portrayal of her grandfather, Curtis Willie Webber, whom was a contractor for many building projects in and around Kansas and Oklahoma. As mentioned in the song, his initials remain "carved in the cement corners of oldest Wichita". These songs explore how the space around us affects us, and the effects we choose to have on those places. There is a particular importance to the these songs owing to the fact that many descendants of Freedman have fought throughout history and continue to fight to maintain tribal rights as Freedmen, to help bring to light the suppressed truth of Black peoples on the Trail of Tears, and the fact of Black slave ownership by the Five Civilized Tribes.
The program will also include a variety of classical arias and musical theatre pieces, the bulk of which she first performed while at Collegiate.
Wichita Collegiate School - Galichia Auditorium (View)
1221 North Webb Road
Wichita, KS 67206
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