Margaret Bonds: Credo, Simon Bore the Cross
Title:

Margaret Bonds: Credo, Simon Bore the Cross

Artists:

Janinah Burnett, soprano
Dashon Burton, bass-baritone
The Dessoff Choirs
Malcolm J. Merriweather, director

Release Date:

3rd February 2023

Cat No:

AV2589

Price:

£12.99

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Summary:

The Dessoff Choirs and Orchestra, conductor Malcolm J. Merriweather and soloists soprano Janinah Burnett and bass-baritone Dashon Burton, give world-premiere recordings of two seminal choral works by African American composer Margaret Bonds: Credo and Simon Bore the Cross.

New York City-based The Dessoff Choirs, instrumental in re-establishing the music of 20th-century African American composer Margaret Bonds with the world-premiere recording of her Christmas oratorio The Ballad of the Brown King, present two more Bonds premieres: new orchestrations of her cantata Simon Bore the Cross created with long-time collaborator and friend Langston Hughes, and the large-scale Credo set to prose by W. E. B. Du Bois.

Akin to The Ballad of the Brown King, which centred around the dark-skinned king Balthazar who journeyed to Bethlehem to witness the birth of Jesus Christ, Bonds’ and Hughes’ North African Simon carried Jesus’s cross on the way to Calvary, giving African American audiences an opportunity to see themselves within the biblical canon.

Credo bears Bonds’ evocative vocal writing style infused with elements from various black musical genres. The first complete performance of the work was given in 1973, to rave reviews: “Credo verified her talent, her sensitivity, her proficiency as orchestrator and her concern for the Negro spiritual” (Los Angeles Times).

Written during the last decade of Bonds’ life, neither work was performed in its entirety during the composer’s lifetime. With this release – coinciding with Black History Month – conductor Malcolm J. Merriweather, The Dessoff Choirs and Orchestra and soloists soprano Janinah Burnett and bass-baritone Dashon Burton, bring Margaret Bonds’ beautiful and spiritual music back to life, conveying a powerful message that remains poignant and relevant for music lovers today.

Tracklist:

MARGARET BONDS (1913–1972)

CREDO
Text: W.E.B. Du Bois 1868–1963 ed. Rollo Dilworth
1. I. I Believe in God 2.30
2. II. Especially do I Believe in the Negro Race 3.23
3. III. I Believe in Pride of Race 3.03
4. IV. I Believe in the Devil 1.32
5. V. I Believe in the Prince of Peace 6.10
6. VI. I Believe in Liberty 4.24
7. VII. I Believe in Patience 2.19

SIMON BORE THE CROSS
Text: Langston Hughes 1901–1967
ed. & arr. Malcolm J. Merriweather
8. I. Prelude 4.55
9. II. I Find No Fault 1.54
10. III. The Trial 5.34
11. IV. Who Is That Man? 4.02
12. V. Don’t You Know, Mary? 4.06
13. VI. Walkin’ to Calvary 8.38
14. VII. The Crucifixion 4.18
15. VIII. Postlude: Resurrection 5.34

Total duration: 62.58

Janinah Burnett, soprano solo (2, 11, 13)
Dashon Burton, bass-baritone solo (6, 9, 13)
The Dessoff Choirs
Malcolm J. Merriweather, director

Recording: 30 April & 1 May 2022, Church of the Heavenly Rest, Manhattan, New York
Recording Producer and Recording, Mixing & Mastering Engineer: Marlan Barry

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