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Groton, MA – This year, the Lawrence Academy Music Department celebrates Black History Month with two special performances.
The first, was Friday, Feb. 3, when LA hosted the Akwaaba Ensemble in Conant Gallery. Over 100 students, faculty, and members of the Groton community gathered for the hour-long high energy performance.
During their show, the Akwaaba performers brought West African drumming and dance from Ghana to Groton.
Led by master percussionist and teacher Theophilus Nii Martey, the “rich and subtle rhythmic patterns and styles specific to different tribal groups of West Africa” filled the Richardson-Mees Performing Arts Center and reflected their name, which means ‘Welcome‘ in the Akan language of Ghana.
"I was expecting it to be high energy,” said Jack Duggan ’19, of the Lawrence Academy Singers. “But I must admit I did not expect the performance to be that exciting."
More excitement is in the offing as the LA Band and LA Singers will be performing music written by black composers and singing words by black poets in their term-ending concert on Thursday, Feb. 23.
In addition, students from Global Cultures will be reciting poems learned during a recent unit.
"The students in 9th grade Global Cultures will present an exhibit of works from the Harlem Renaissance from various poets, musicians, dancers, artists, or fashion design from the time,” said Natasha Huggins, Global Cultures teacher. “All Global Cultures students will work on a history department bulletin board to highlight Black History Month with an emphasis on the science, math, and the humanities."
“This connects to LA's mission on multiple levels,” explained Director of Music Jenny Cooper, “including that it requires empathy and considers a plurality of perspectives.
“In addition, at LA we strive to help students to take action for the common good, and in this sense the community is the global community.
“By offering these performances, we are opening our students' eyes to the many cultures throughout the world,” she said.
Head of School Dan Scheibe added, "These connections that happen both within and beyond the curriculum are a way of getting real, getting beyond just an 'academic exercise.'
"Our times need that-- using our voices and bodies and mind to create a sense of proximity to culture and history.
"Fully engaging black history has a particular urgency now, and consistent with our educational philosophy, it’s important that we value not just what the teacher brings, but what the student brings to the cause.”
For more information on all of LA's upcoming arts exhibitions and performances, click here.