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February 13, 2014

RASHAD presents Sunday hymnals for Black History Month

By Travis Raymond

The Cleveland Orchestra’s Mark Dumm and Cleveland State University alumna Dr. Sharon Brown Cheston performed music from an eclectic variety of composers at the Black History Month concert in Trinity Cathedral February 9. 

Dr. Regennia Williams, director of the Study of Religion and Spirituality in the History of Africa and the Diaspora (RASHAD), said concert-goers could expect an eclectic range of composers via Cleveland State’s Tumblr page.  One look at the program confirmed her to be right.  Listed with orchestral mainstays like George Frideric Handel and Bela Bartok were William Moore, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Grant Sill.

Still was the first African American to conduct a major American orchestra and the first to have an opera played on national television.

Before the intermission Cheston and Dumm played hymnals “O How I Love Jesus” and “Brethren, We Have Met to Worship.” 

“When we were deciding what music to include today, we just wanted everybody to feel like we’re all in church together on a Sunday and listening to the spirit,” Dumm said.

After the intermission, the two performed a piece by Cheston herself, based on a poem by Louise Bogan, “Song for a Lyre,” before “We Shall Overcome,” by Charles Albert Tindley, which Cheston also arranged.

Dumm is a member of the Cleveland Orchestra’s first violin section and has been with the ensemble since 1985.  He began his musical education under his father, Thomas Dumm, currently the principal violinist of the Saint Louis Symphony.  Dumm studied music at Julliard School and at Indiana University. 

Cheston studied music at Baldwin-Wallace College Conservatory of Music, Cleveland State University, and Case Western Reserve University.  Cheston has held multiple positions as conductor, pianist, and educator and currently teaches Suzuki piano and theory at Tiamoyo Music Academy in Woodmere, Ohio.

The performance was the first of RASHAD’s 2014 “Concerts Around Cleveland” series.  Williams passed collection baskets among the audience during intermission.  The donations, she said, would go toward continuing the concert series.

Sponsors of the event included RASHAD, and Cleveland State’s Alumni Association and Department of History.