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WSSO Diversity & Inclusion

Committee, Resources, Events, Personal Development

Learn about Margaret Bonds, 1913-1972

As we prepare our May 19 performance of "Montgomery Variations" by Margaret Bonds, join us in learning a bit about her!  Some quick facts:

• Margaret Bonds grew up in Chicago, raised by her mother, Estella Bonds, who provided an artistic & literary community for African American students in their home

•  Margaret Bonds studied piano with first her mother, then Florence Price and WIlliam Dawson

• In 1929, Margaret Bonds enrolled at Northwestern University where she was accepted as a student (earning Bachelors & Masters degrees) but was not permitted to reside at the school or use their facilities

• In 1934, Margaret Bonds performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (the first African American soloist with CSO)

• In 1939, Margaret Bonds moved to New York City, where she studied composition and piano at the Juilliard School.

• Margaret Bonds collaborated with Langston Hughes to compose several song cycles.  Hughes's poetry had been an inspiration to her as a marginalized conservatory student

1963 Bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was and the Montgomery bus boycotts served as the backdrop for Bonds's "Montgomery Variations", to be performed by the WSSO on 5/19
Hymn upon which "Montgomery Variations" is based
Resourcce about "Montgomery Variations" by John Michael Cooper
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Diversity of Religion & Spiritual Sensibility, May concert, 2024

"My second symphony is a confession of the soul", said Finnish composer Jean Sibelius of his 1901-02 work.  As part of our May 19 concert, we journey into the souls of composers, first with Jewish-American composer Ernest Bloch.  Bloch's commitment to integrating Jewish themes and religious stories with modern & traditional classical stylistic practices of the 20th century resulted in soulful and celebratory music, such as the Concerto grosso we perform.  Margaret Bonds's "Montgomery Variations" is a meditation on the Spiritual "I Want Jesus to Walk with Me".  Finally, we open ourselves tp Sibelius's "confession of the soul", a personal spiritual communion in the broadest sense.

Jewish-American composer Ernest Bloch


Welcome events for new members and post-concert follow-ups with collaborators

Featured African American leaders in community as orators for summer pops concerts

Partnership with Camp Curtin Academy: Production Team of middle school students for family concerts

Collaboration with Guest Conductor Dr. Eric Hinton

Meet & greet with Rick Benjamin, enrichment session surrounding Scott Joplin's "Treemonisha"

Meet & greet with composers Nancy Ives & Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate to discuss authenticity of voice.

Enrichment Corner

Follow up on our performance of St. George's Violin Concerto (played by Margeaux, conducted by Dr. Hinton)!  This movie now available on Hulu and in theaters!

Good read!  Purchase HERE
(Recommended by Jamie Fry)


Local Directors discuss issues of race impacting our artistic communities
A tribute to Native musicians affiliated with the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, featuring "Cree War Dance" by Pejawah
WSSO Celebrates with our country's first nationally recognized Juneteenth holiday, 6/19/2021

The WSSO D&I Committee formed Fall of 2020 with the following basic charges:

1. Discuss and informally assess the current state of inclusivity of the WSSO.

2. Report the results of these ongoing reviews to the WSSO Board.

3. Propose effective opportunities for conversations and/or activities centered on anti-racism (with the arts as a focal point). Some opportunities could be intended for WSSO members only, and some with members of other organizations.

4. Once proposals have been approved by the WSSO Board, this committee will assist in communication, implementation, & facilitation of anti-racism personal development opportunities as directed by the WSSO Board.

5. To serve as a supportive body and sounding board for WSSO musicians & staff for individual concerns involving inclusion in our organization.

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