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LaSaundra Booth
LaSaundra Booth, Lecturer of Music Education

The department is proud to share that Dr. LaSaundra Booth, music education lecturer, will be featured this coming weekend as the National Association for Music Educators (NAfME) 2021 All-National Honors Orchestra Conductor.

“It’s an honor to serve as this year’s conductor of the NAfME All-National Honors Symphony Orchestra,” said Booth. “This opportunity is extremely special for many reasons…I am one of the very few African-American women to have ever conducted the All-National Symphony Orchestra. The second reason is that I was allowed to use this platform to program works by two African-American women, Florence Price and Mary D. Watkins.”

This year, due to the pandemic, the performance will be virtual and free for all to attend. Dr. Booth will lead the ANH Orchestra in virtual rehearsals and recording sessions this weekend, January 22-24. The final performance will be premiered online during NAfME’s upcoming Music in Our Schools Month.

“The orchestra will be performing the finale movement of Price’s Symphony No. 1 in E minor, which was the first composition by an African-American woman to be performed by a major orchestra (Chicago Symphony in 1933),” Booth noted.

“The second selection is Soul of Remembrance, which is the second movement of Mary D. Watkins’ Five Movements in Color. What makes this piece memorable is the sustained melodic lines that portray the pain of the past and hope for a more equitable and just future. The selection ends with an unresolved chord signifying that our work in the struggle for social justice, racial equality, and gender equality is not yet finished.

Mary D. Watkins is a living composer, so I am excited that our students will get to meet her and speak with her.”

To learn more about the 2021 All-National Honor Ensemble virtual performances, please click here.

by Casey Mentch, class of 2024

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