Black history is filled with rich culture, art, and music. One classically-trained local group is using their performances to keep that history alive.
In a recent performance by the Ritz Chamber Players at Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church, music reached the highest ceiling peak. It glided over taut strings echoing through hollow chambers captivating the audience.
Sarah Spencer attended this performance and said, “The soprano singer. Just her voice. It just penetrates your soul”. The Ritz Chamber Players is a group born from the history of the Lavilla neighborhood –the heart of Jacksonville's African-American culture.
Terrance Patterson is the founder of the Ritz Chamber Players. “Every year we do a concert in celebration of Martin Luther King and it's entitled Remembrance of the Dream.” He says music played a vital role in the civil rights movement thanks to Dr. King's wife Coretta. She attended the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston when they met. “She would do concerts called freedom concerts to raise money for the whole movement.”
Continuing that tradition is what inspired violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins. “Without that era, without his work, we wouldn't be here today. The pluralistic voices, those are the sorts of things that he talked about.” The classical music group also debuted a powerful new piece of music.
Art Mills was also in the audience that day and says, “I'm proud to live in a community that wants to honors him, and this is a great way to honor him.” Another audience member, Debra Corbitt says, “It's a good time to stop and think about the things that he did and work that he did for this country to uplift people, and this music celebrated that.”
And like the man who inspired a movement -- this music strikes a chord resonating with generations to come.