KSU celebrates NAACP’s 100th anniversary with Ritz Chamber Players
Nation’s preeminentchamber ensemble comprised of musicians of African descent to perform standard classical repertoire and works by African-American composers
Kennesaw State University and the Cobb County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the NAACP, with a special performance by the Ritz Chamber Players – the nation’s first chamber music ensemble series comprised solely of musicians of African descent.
The black-tie event will be held on Saturday, January 9, 2010, at 8 p.m., in the Performance Hall of the Dr. Bobbie Bailey & Family Performance Center, on the Kennesaw State campus. Longtime WABE-FM classical music icon Lois Reitzes – host of “Second Cup Concert” and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra broadcasts – will serve as mistress of ceremonies for the event.
“Kennesaw State University is strongly committed to the principles of diversity and inclusion,” said KSU President Daniel S. Papp. “KSU has had a long-standing partnership with the NAACP’s Cobb County Branch, and this partnership has strengthened diversity efforts at KSU. We are proud to collaborate on this very special event recognizing the centennial anniversary of the NAACP.”
Kennesaw State’s affiliation with the NAACP-Cobb County Branch began when former KSU President Betty Siegel arrived at the university in 1981. In 1994, a student chapter of the NAACP was established at the university, and the chapter has since grown to 77 current members.
More recently, in February 2008, the NAACP-Cobb County Branch donated a collection of its documents, photos and other memorabilia to the KSU Department of Archives and Records. The donated records provide researchers and the public a window into some of Cobb’s most formative and turbulent years — the 1960s and 1970s — and include press clippings from the coverage of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“(KSU President) Dr. Dan Papp's leadership has reaffirmed our commitment to continuing this partnership, because he leads by example,” stated Deane Bonner, president of the NAACP Cobb County Branch. “He truly exemplifies the slogan in one of KSU’s marketing advertisements: ‘Many diverse minds. One dedicated vision.’ He truly walks the walk when it comes to promoting diversity at KSU.”
Founded on Feb. 12, 1909, the NAACP has engaged in a year-long nationwide recognition of its 100th anniversary, at the local, state and national levels. According to its centennial communications materials, “the NAACP is the nation's oldest, largest and most widely recognized grassroots–based civil rights organization.”
“The NAACP has been instrumental in creating opportunities for people of color and fostering inclusion in our society,” said Arlethia Perry-Johnson, special assistant to the president for external affairs at KSU. “We think it is quite fitting for this special salute to feature the Ritz Chamber Players, a talented group of musicians who are breaking down barriers in their own right.”
According to a December 2008 article in The Baltimore Sun, “Few blacks perform in the nation’s orchestras. Just 1.9 percent of the nation's orchestra musicians were African-American during the 2006-2007 season (at the time of the article’s publication, the most recent report available from the League of American Orchestras).”
Founded in 2002 by clarinetist and artistic director Terrance Patterson, the Ritz Chamber Players — musicians of African descent who are members of established orchestral groups that assemble in different combinations to play chamber music — have played to standing-room-only crowds at Carnegie Hall. Members of the Ritz Chamber Players perform with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, London Symphony and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. The Ritz Chamber Players also regularly participate in the Madison and Amelia Island Chamber Music Festivals. The ensemblemade its national television debut in 2006 on the 37th Annual NAACP Image Awards.
The Ritz Chamber Players concert — sponsored by KSU’s Division of External Affairs in partnership with the NAACP Cobb County Branch and KSU’s College of the Arts — is open to the public. Tickets for the black-tie performance are priced at only $15, and may be purchased online or by telephone through the KSU College of the Arts box office: http://ticketing.kennesaw.edu or 770-423-6650. Tickets also may be purchased at the offices of the NAACP-Cobb Branch, located at 605 Roswell Street, in Marietta. The branch’s phone number is (770) 425-5757.
The venue in which the concert will be held, the Dr. Bobbie Bailey & Family Performance Center, opened on the KSU campus in October 2007. The $9 million structure houses a 624-seat Performance Hall, the Don Russell Clayton Gallery and the Eric and Gwendolyn Brooker Rehearsal Hall. The facility is home to the KSU School of Music, which has been named an All-Steinway School through the generosity of Dr. Bobbie Bailey, a major benefactor to the university and to KSU’s College of the Arts.