A group of Mississippi State University choral singers will participate Saturday [Sept. 21] in a Birmingham, Ala., performance commemorating a 1963 tragedy that marked an historic turning point in the U.S. civil rights struggle.
President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice tentatively are scheduled to attend the 50th anniversary memorial of the Sunday morning bombing by Ku Klux Klan members that killed four young girls at the 16th Street Baptist Church.
Titled "A More Convenient Season," the performance begins at 8 p.m. in Jemison Concert Hall on the University of Alabama at Birmingham campus. The concert hall is located in the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South.
Some two dozen female MSU choral students will be among those singing new music written by internationally renowned composer Yotam Haber especially for and about the Alabama city's bloody civil rights struggle. The music specifically was created for accompaniment by women's voices.
In addition to singers from MSU, the featured chorus will include members of approximately 40 Birmingham-area choirs, as well as from historic Tuskegee University and various churches.
Tickets are $62.50, $51.50 and $39.50, and may be purchased online at www.alysstephens.org or by telephoning 205-975-2787.
"We are very excited to be one of the two universities asked to participate in this world premiere," said Gary Packwood, director of MSU's choral activities.
"For me, it symbolizes a mark in this country; how far things have moved forward," Packwood added.
Haber, a Guggenheim fellow, was commissioned by philanthropist Tom Blount and the Stephens Center to memorialize the violent attack that killed Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Denise McNair.
Rice was friends with McNair, who was 11 years old when she died.
The performance also will include screening of a short film and archival audio recordings, along with music performed by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Michael Morgan and electronic compositions by Philip White.
For more information about Mississippi State University, see www.msstate.edu.