Rhythms of the Cross

It was an honor to be part of an unusual Good Friday event at St. Paul’s Baptist Church in Philadelphia last week. My Penn colleague Dr. Guthrie Ramsey and the St. Paul’s pastor Dr. Leslie Callahan devised a series of reflections on the Seven Last Words that drew on the gifts of various spoken word artists and singers, the church’s own liturgical dancers and choir, and, binding it all together, the musical gifts of Dr. Guy’s Musiqology, featuring Guy at the piano. It was called Rhythms of the Cross: Seven Good Friday Movements. We heard the voices of Tulani Kinard (of Sweet Honey in the Rock), Clarence E. Wright, Valerie Bridgeman, Greg Corbin, Tyler Brown, and Charisse R. Tucker. At Guy’s invitation, mezzo Teresa Washam and I performed my version of the plainchant melody “Christus Factus Est”, from my Three Sacred Songs. When Bridget Ramsey (Guy’s daughter) opened her solo performance with a wordless vocalise over blues changes, I sensed a musical connection with the long melismas of my plainchant-based piece: two musics separated by a thousand years, but bound together in the grace-filled gift we call melody. I was also privileged to perform with the band on one number – thanks for the invitation to sit in, Guy!

Here are a few pictures. Liturgical dancers in action:

Here’s the whole company (that’s Teresa at my right, in the middle):

And here I am with a few of the other artists – that’s Guy, second from the right.