NOTE: Due to circumstances beyond our control, the “Afro-Centric Choral Evensong” at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church will not be live-streamed on KACV.ORG. If permissible, KACV will archive the performance for you to enjoy at a later date. Please check back.
Dr. Carl MaultsBy discusses the upcoming “Afro-Centric Choral Evensong” at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church on February 10, 2013. He talks about the significance of the service and how it has become a community-wide tradition in Amarillo.
Q: What inspired you to create this service, and what kind of effect has it had on those who have seen it?
A: Over 5 centuries ago, the Anglican Church adopted Evensong as one of the services derived from the Roman Catholic monastic office of Vespers.
Music for Evensong continued into the 21st century to be primarily in the Euro-Anglican tradition. Consequently, traditional musical settings
for this service did not incorporate Afro-Centric cultural elements needed to enhance worship in Black American Episcopal congregations.
Therefore, I laid the framework for the piece now known as “An Afro-Centric Choral Evensong” for the 2004 annual celebration of Evensong
on All Saints Sunday at Church of St. Mark, Brooklyn, NY, a Black congregation, The work crystalized in the 2006 All Saints Evensong celebration
at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Washington, DC, another historically Black congregation.
Upon hearing the work, Dr. Jeffrey Smith, former Director of Music, Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, invited me to conduct a performance of the work in 2006 at Grace in commemoration of the fortieth anniversary of the death of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This version with the readings assigned for celebrating the life and work of Dr. King inspired Margaret Lacy, Director of Music, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Amarillo, to extend an invitation for me to lead a performance of the work for the Amarillo 2009 Martin Luther King Celebration held at St. Andrew’s. Jonathan Overby, Wisconsin Public Radio host of “Higher Ground,” attended the Grace Cathedral presentation. He later interviewed me and featured “An Afro-Centric Choral Evensong” on his show.
Q: How does the traditional Evensong service compare with the one you wrote honoring Dr. King?
A: The principal component parts (“Invitatory,” “Psalm,” “Magnificat,” “Nunc Dimittis,” “Creed” and “Prayers”) are present in both versions but the musical style is different. I employed Black gospel, U. S. slave spiritual chant musical elements as well as Caribbean folk idioms.
Q: How many years has it been performed in Amarillo?
A: It was first performed in Amarillo in 2009.