Episode 136: Remaking History with Dr. Marques L.A. Garrett

This week, welcome BACK to the show Dr. Marques Garrett, who last appeared in episode 17, “Beyond Elijah Rock,” where many of us were introduced to the concept of “non-idiomatic” music of Black composers. In this episode, part of the “Oxford Series,” Marques returns to celebrate his latest contribution to the growing canon of music by Black composers from around the world. Just last week, Oxford Press published his Anthology, “The Oxford Book of Choral Music by Black Composers.” Tune in to hear us pick up where that conversation left off by discussing the importance of a term like “non-idiomatic” in teaching people that Black musicians cannot be accurate boxed in to genres like spirituals, jazz and gospel.

In addition to discussing the genesis of this project and its contents, we also have a candid conversation LIVE in my home studio about the state of progress in incorporating music of non-white composers into the expanded canon, the danger of possible overcorrection that comes from our continued struggle with terminology that conflates concepts of race with culture, language and nationality, and the growing and profound legacy in choral music of HBCU alumni and much more. Don’t miss it. Video recommended!

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A Virginia native, Marques L. A. Garrett is an Assistant Professor of Music in Choral Activities at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in the Glenn Korff School of Music. His responsibilities include conducting the auditioned Chamber Singers and non-auditioned University Chorale (soprano-alto) as well as teaching graduate choral literature. Before earning his PhD in Music Education (Choral Conducting) at Florida State University, he was the Director of Choral Activities at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, he holds an MM from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a BA from Hampton University.

An active conductor, Dr. Garrett is the artistic director of the Omaha Symphonic Chorus and founding conductor of the Nebraska Festival Singers. He serves as a guest conductor or clinician with school, church, community, and festival/honor choirs throughout the country. In addition to his conducting classes at UNL, he leads conducting workshops at other universities and conferences. His formal conducting studies were with Dr. André J. Thomas, Dr. Carole J. Ott, Dr. Carl G. Harris, Jr., and Mr. Royzell Dillard.

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A versatile voice that performs both as a baritone and countertenor, Dr. Garrett has sung with several community, church, and university groups as both a chorister and soloist. He was the baritone soloist for the Germantown Concert Chorus’s performance of Haydn’s Missa in Angustiis. His premiere as a countertenor in Dan Forrest’s Jubilate Deo served as the work’s European premiere in Limerick, Ireland. Additionally, he performed the role of Lil Lud in Bernstein’s White House Cantata with the Tallahassee Community Chorus. Currently, he sings with First-Plymouth Congregational Church, Festival Singers of Florida, and the Jason Max Ferdinand Singers.

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Dr. Garrett is an avid composer of choral and solo-vocal music whose compositions have been performed to acclaim by high school all-state, collegiate, and professional choirs including Seraphic Fire and the Oakwood University Aeolians. His music is available through more than ten publishers. He has been commissioned by organizations such as Harvard University and Westminster Choir College. Among his latest commissions is his largest work to date, Dreamland: Tulsa 1921. This collaborative work with librettist Sandra Seaton for tenor-bass chorus, soloists, and chamber orchestra was commissioned by the Turtle Creek Chorale to tell the story of the Greenwood district of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

As a researcher, his most advantageous topic is the non-idiomatic choral music of Black composers. His lectures at state and regional conferences of the American Choral Directors Association and at other local and national venues afford him the opportunity to showcase this underrepresented area of music. He serves as co-editor of the “Out from the Shadows” Series with Gentry Publications.

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Dr. Garrett holds membership in the American Choral Directors Association; American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers; National Association of Negro Musicians; National Collegiate Choral Organization; and Pi Kappa Lambda. For more information, visit http://www.mlagmusic.com.

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