Carry Each Voice and Sing: Anton Armstrong displays on choral music throughout Black Historical past Month
In 1990, Anton Armstrong ’78 turned the fourth conductor of the St. Olaf Choir. Right now he’s the Harry R. and Thora H. Tosdal Chair in Music, Inventive Director of the St. Olaf Christmas Pageant, and a worldwide chief within the area of choral music.
Earlier than Armstrong’s tenure, music programmed for the St. Olaf Choir was largely targeted on Western traditions and white composers. After becoming a member of the college, Armstrong instantly introduced his private contact and perspective to the choir, constructing on its legacy whereas sustaining its wealthy heritage.
Certainly one of Armstrong’s greatest contributions has been increasing the repertoire carried out by the St. Olaf Choir to incorporate extra various narratives, languages, and composers. Programming for the choir now usually consists of music from the Pacific Islands, Africa, and Latin America in addition to the Judeo-Christian and African American expertise, amongst so many others.
Armstrong is likewise a champion for music created by marginalized voices throughout the broader choral music group, each in his programming as an everyday visitor conductor of youth choirs throughout America and because the editor of a multicultural choral sequence for Earthsongs Publications.
The world has modified profoundly since 1990 when Armstrong accepted the place of conductor for the St. Olaf Choir. Via his particular person efforts and the shared values of different up to date colleagues, choral music has shifted to turn out to be extra inclusive. Nationally, due to the various steps taken by various leaders and change-makers who influenced their very own communities, necessary conversations and adjustments have occurred as effectively. Contributing to that progress is one thing Armstrong has dedicated to for his complete skilled profession.
“And if any individual will get upset with them, with all due respect, the issue isn’t mine it’s theirs,” Armstrong says.
Via all of it, Armstrong has held to his perception that music is transformational and transcends language and tradition. It communicates messages of reality, understanding, justice, peace, hope, and love.
He’s dedicated to performing works that talk on social justice points, whether or not he’s programming for a tour of the St. Olaf Choir or internet hosting an episode of Sounds from St. Olaf. He typically parallels the messages of social justice in choral repertoire with the teachings of the gospel.
Because the choir’s first Black conductor in a string of all-white conductors, Armstrong’s appointment to the place was a landmark choice on the time, and one which has tremendously enriched the faculty.
Though Armstrong has thrived at St. Olaf, and has developed right here as a worldwide chief in each music instruction and diversifying choral music, progress nonetheless must be made — each at St. Olaf and throughout the broader choral music group.
I’ve flourished, I’ve thrived, however too a lot of my colleagues haven’t. And that has to alter.Anton Armstrong ’78
“St. Olaf is a superb place, I might have been a idiot to have been right here for 31 years if there wasn’t lots of goodness,” Armstrong says. “However there are lots of issues which have inhibited. And I’ve flourished, I’ve thrived, however too a lot of my colleagues haven’t. And that has to alter.”
Carry Each Voice And Sing: A Celebration of African American Music
On Sunday, February 14, at 3:30 p.m. CT, Armstrong will host a brand new episode of St. Olaf’s digital live performance sequence Sounds from St. Olaf. The episode is titled “Carry Each Voice And Sing: A Celebration of African American Music” and it’ll honor Black Historical past Month and elevate up musical works which have been created or impressed by African People.