The popular music of today can trace its past back to the earliest African American music in America. Take a journey of these musical roots on February 11, 2018, when The Ohio Valley Symphony’s Woodwind Quintet joined by the Washington Elementary C.A.T.S. Choir celebrates the music of African American composers. The 2 p.m. concert at the historic Ariel Opera House is free and open to the public.

The earliest African American music is based on the Christian roots of spirituality. Songs of worship, pain, hope and even songs with secret messages were characterized by a pentatonic structure (think the black notes on the piano) with syncopated rhythms. Very few of these spirituals have known composers but later African Americans picked up these characteristics and moved forward with them composing more formally. W.C. Handy, Scott Joplin and William Grant Still are some of the late 19th and early 20th-century composers featured along with a later 20th century composer, Moses Hogan.

Ohio Valley Symphony Woodwind Quintet members hail from the tri-state region and are long-time members of The Ohio Valley Symphony as well as a number of other music ensembles in the area such as the West Virginia, Huntington and River Cities Symphonies as well as other chamber ensembles. Three of the five performed for the very first OVS concert on April 1, 1989, in a not-yet-restored Ariel Opera House! A woodwind quintet is a delightful combination of flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn. While not made of wood, the horn has a mellow sound that blends well with the woodwinds.

The C.A.T.S. choir (Creative, Academic, Teamwork and Success) under the direction of Mr. Christian Scott (5th Grade Teacher) and Mrs. Marilyn Wills (Music Teacher) is comprised of Washington Elementary students who love singing and have a desire to learn more about music and performing. The choir is comprised of 3rd, 4th and 5th-grade students and meets each week during the after school program.