The Yale Concert Band played the first half of a concert exchange program with the historically black Morgan State University this weekend, marking an effort by band leaders to bring together musicians of different backgrounds.
Saturday’s concert at the Baltimore school was Morgan State’s first concert exchange with an Ivy League school and the first time any school in the league has participated in such an exchange, according to band director and Yale Music professor Thomas C. Duffy.
The performance in the Morgan State Carl Murphy Fine Arts Center, which drew a crowd of 120, mostly Morgan State students, featured members of the Concert Band as well as 12 Morgan State musicians. The concert followed the bands’ joint performance at the College Band Directors National Association Eastern Division Conference at the U.S. Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C.
Derek Fujio ’08, a former president of the Concert Band, said the concert allowed musicians of varying backgrounds to share a common art.
“[It was] one trumpet player sitting next to another, each with his or her own experiences, communicating in the same way, from the same sheet of music,” he said.
Duffy led the band through most of the concert but gave Melvin Miles, his friend and colleague at Morgan State, the reins for one piece.
The idea for the exchange, Duffy said, came from his joint founding membership with Miles of the College Band Directors National Association’s Gender and Ethnic Committee. The two directors decided to set up the exchange to address what they believed was a racial divide in college bands, he said.
“[The Yale Band] usually participated in exchange concerts with other Ivies and schools in the Northeast, while Morgan State usually played with other historically black colleges,” Duffy said Sunday. “We wanted to bring the two music worlds together.”
The Concert Band performed five pieces, including “Cheetah” by Karel Husa, a former professor of Duffy’s at Cornell University.
Current Yale Bands President Rita Alway ’09 said she looks forward to further participation in the musical exchange.
“It was a bit unfortunate that we couldn’t spend more time talking to [members of the Morgan State Band] — there just wasn’t time,” she said. “I hope we can spend more time together when they come in April.”
The Morgan State University Band will visit and perform at Yale on April 12.