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Culture notes: Nov. 11 concert extends healing arts tradition; 2 History Center events highlight cultural diversity

By Howard Pousner

Atlanta Music Festival Concert reaches out, back
The “2012 Atlanta Music Festival Concert: Songs of Aspiration, Hope and Progress,” 4 p.m. Nov. 11 in the First Congregational Church sanctuary, has connections to an important event in the city more than a century ago.

Intending to unite communities and bridge traditions, Rev. Dwight Andrews of First Congregational Church and Steven Darsey of the Atlanta music-worship group Meridian Herald launched the Atlanta Music Festival in 2001.

It was something of a homage to the Atlanta Colored Music Festival Association’s debut concert in 1910 that drew 2,000 blacks and whites (seated in separate areas) to Atlanta’s Auditorium and Armory for a concert performed by African-American artists. One of the missions of that event was to encourage social healing after the Atlanta race riot of 1906.

Sunday’s concert will feature performances by spinto tenor Timothy B. Miller, the First Church Chancel Choir directed by Norma Raybon and the Meridian Chorale and soloists. Andrews will serve as artistic director and Meridian Herald’s Steven Darsey as music director.

The program includes works by T. J. Anderson, former Atlanta Symphony Orchestra composer in residence who recently moved to Atlanta and will be in attendance.

Presented by the church, Meridan Herald and Emory University, “Songs of Aspiration, Hope and Progress” is free, with an offering taken to benefit the Atlanta Music Festival. 105 Courtland St. Atlanta.

History Center highlights cultural diversity
The Atlanta History Center, which staged its popular Day of the Dead celebration in October, continues its community outreach this month with two notable events:

  • Passport to Celebrations, opening Nov. 14 and running through the holidays, will be a display of decorated holiday tables depicting cultural traditions around the world.

Twenty four table settings created by top metro interior, garden and event designers will interpret American and international secular and religious holidays including the African Yam Festival, the Indian festival of lights Diwali, Brazilian Carnival, Japan’s cherry blossom festival and Persian New Year.

“This event showcases Atlanta’s multiculturalism and diversity and provides visitors an opportunity to learn more about international holidays, their historical origins and time-honored celebrations,” said co-chair Debbie Neese of the event being staged by the History Center’s Members Guild.

The exhibit is free with museum admission or $10 for “Passport” only. A Passport Premiere Evening, 7-10 p.m. Nov. 14, features a cocktail buffet and exhibit preview (donation: $175 per person).

  • A Southeastern Indians Heritage Program on Nov. 17 is the center’s celebration of Native American Heritage Month. During the 11 a.m.-4 p.m. event, visitors will find craft demonstrations, performances relating to the Trail of Tears and storytelling as well as discussions led by Native American artists and experts on everything from hide tanning to fire making.

The University of Georgia’s Toli Team will demonstrate the traditional Native American stickball game. Guests also can go on self-guided tours of the exhibition “Native Lands: Indians and Georgia.” (Included with museum admission.)

130 W. Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta. 404-814-4000,

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