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Inside Morehouse. ([Atlanta, Georgia]) 2008-????, September 01, 2008, Image 6

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INSIDE MOREHOUSE. SEPTEMBER 2008 European Production of Porgy and Bess Highlights Brown and His Former Students Music Department chairman Uzee Brown Jr. (right) performs in a scene as Frazier the attorney with Kevin Short (left) who portrayed Porgy. By ADD SEYMOUR JR. M usic department chairman Uzee Brown Jr. felt like a proud father. He was in Paris this summer per forming as “Frazier,” the attorney in Porgy and Bess, with several of his former Morehouse music students as part of the professional chorus behind him. “I was so proud because they were so on top of their games and so professional,” Brown said. “Peo ple looked at and admired what they saw in those guys.” The Morehouse contingent was part of the Atlanta Opera Chorus that traveled to Paris this summer to participate in the production of Porgy and Bess at the historic Opera-Comique for seven weeks. Opera-Comique has involved iconic composers such as Daniel Auber and Georges Bizet. It also staged the first performance of Bizet’s Carmen in 1875. Brown, who performed in The Atlanta Opera’s 2005 produc tion of Porgy and Bess, was con tracted to perform in this production by both the Atlanta Opera and Opera-Comique. “It is one of the most significant things for me because it was not simply a touring company, but it was a resident production,” he said. “All the other productions of Porgy and Bess had been American tour ing companies.” The group spent up to two months living in Paris. A month of rehearsals for soloists like Brown preceded their seven-week run in Paris, followed by week-long en gagements in Granada, Spain; Caen, France, and upcoming performances in the European country of Luxem bourg on October. 7,9 and 11. “This new production of Porgy and Bess [has been] an important event in Europe,” said Opera- Comique general director Jerome Deschamps. “The fact that The At lanta Opera [has been] associated with this project makes us even more proud of it.” Morehouse has been well-repre sented in the production. Singing with The Atlanta Opera are assistant professor Mel Jackson and alumni James Binion Jr. l 06; Gregory Cald well ’99; Bradley Candie ’92; Edwin Cotton ‘07; the youngest member of the entire production, 21-year-old current student Marcus Hill; LaSean Lewis ’03 along with Timothy Miller ’03, who is now an adjunct professor in the music department and per formed the “Crabman’s Call.” “On the last night, he interpreted a high “D” and the audience went ga-ga,” Brown said. European audiences have adored the predominantly African Ameri can cast as every seat was sold for each of the 18 performances. “It has been quite an experience, Brown said. ■ SUMMER AT THE HOUSE Summer Programs Taught Students Academics, Leadership and Community Brian Dawson thought this summer’s Pre-Freshman Sum mer Program was going to be fun and games. He quickly found out that he was com pletely mistaken. “We had to line up, go to class, make sure our shirts were tucked,” said the freshman from Baltimore, Md. “I wasn’t expect ing that. I was like ‘What’s going on here?”’ What was going on was one of 18 summer programs that made up the Morehouse College Summer Academy 2008. Spread across campus, they engaged nearly 1,000 students - pre-teens to rising college freshman - in a variety of academic, athletic and social enrichment programs. “The value of participating in a Summer Academy program is arguably immense,” said Sum mer Academy director Anne Watts, associate vice president for Academic Affairs. “Students were able to get an early start in preparation for college work by being in classes taught by college professors, using college text books and guided by college syl labi. Students who return to their high schools after intensive study in these Summer Academy programs are stretched to achieve at a higher level, and they almost always perform bet ter in their remaining high school courses.” Four of the 18 programs are highlighted here. Pre-Freshman Summer Program Like the other 150 PSP participants heading to Morehouse in the fall, Brian Dawson quickly acclimated himself to a summer of classes, lectures and an overall orientation to college life. Courses in English, reading, history, math and sociology were offered as were lectures of particular interest to African American males. Earning a B or better in each summer college credit course would count towards credit for their Morehouse coursework during the school year. But Brian Carter, an 18-year-old freshman from Americus, Ga„ who also participated in PSP, said there was an even more important aspect of the experience. "The very first person I met when I moved on campus this fall was a PSP counselor from this summer," he said. "I mean, I kept running into PSP people. So it's like I have 150 PSP brothers already." Among their leadership and academic lessons. Project Identity students also learned about table etiquette from Belinda J. White, an assistant profes sor in business. "It actually gave me the opportunity to be comfortable in a new place," said Dawson. "It was like my brothers were my family." Morehouse NYSP Just behind the stands of B.T. Har vey Stadium this summer, a fierce soft- ball or kickball game was usually going on between some very competitive 10- to-16 year olds. The game was part of several athletic and academic compo nents of the Morehouse National Youth Sports Program. "It was a successful summer," said program administrator Robert Wilson III. "We had close to 200 children." This year the Morehouse NYSP got a boost: the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation, which is part of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, gave $3,200 to provide scholarships so 50 young people could take part in the program. NYSP participants hit the pool as well as the field and the classroom during their month of academic and athletic enrichment. Project Identity Summer Institute A snazzy group of rising high school sophomores and juniors in shirts and ties who always seemed to be in a hurry to a class were Project Identity Summer Institute students. Forty males from across the country - out of hundreds who applied to be part of the program - learned about math and science, cre ative writing and public speaking. But they also learned about leadership and African American male development. Danny Bellinger, director of Project Identity, said the students come from a variety of economic and social backgrounds. "But the thing they had in common is that they were highly motivated kids," he said. "We try to give them an even playing field and allow them to meet other kids and show them somebody as highly motivated as themselves." Bryant Marks, director of the Morehouse Male Initiative, speaks with PSP students in Sale Hall's Chapel of the Inward Journey. Coca-Cola Pre-College Summer Program Thirty rising junior and senior high school students from 16 states took part in this summer's week-long Coca-Cola Pre-College Summer Program. The program introduces students to the traits, skills and behaviors necessary for leadership. "We like to say that we impact sev eral areas: character, self-esteem aca demic excellence, gaining a greater respect for others and creating a sense of community,” said Walter Fluker, ex ecutive director of the Leadership Cen ter at Morehouse College, which runs the program. "I think the greater piece of our program is that we have a pow erful program that creates community." "It's not failed for ten years since I've been part of this program that the stu dents say, 'I don't want to leave, I want to come to Morehouse,’" Fluker said. ■ Coca-Cola Pre-College Leadership Program students began each morning with exercising and stretching together to prepare them for long intense days.