Written by PA Intern Rachitha Avatapally.
The United Strings of Color produced a stunning performance Saturday, October 16 at The North Carolina Museum of Art. The United Strings of Color, coached by former Philharmonic Association Executive Director Margaret Partridge, was initially started in the Fall of 2018 to address the racial disparity in classical music. The group often performs community outreach while delving into societal issues and music. In their first year, the United Strings of Color performed music written by under-represented composers, specifically women. In their second year, they dove into music with connections to African culture and more recently they have used their music to promote social justice awareness by performing Violin Vigils.
Despite the pandemic, the United Strings of Color have been the most active group in the Philharmonic Association. This year, they offered twelve in-person performances and three virtual performances.
The quartet is made up of violist Sterling Elliot, violinist Tayla Murphy, violinist Cameron Thomas, and cellist Alexandra Etienne. On Saturday, the quartet premiered Ijapa and Mr. Igbin, an original composition by Elmer Gibson based on an African story. The performance featured artwork by Poe Elementary School students and narration by Mr. Henry O. Lovett. The multi-faceted performance allowed the audience to dive into the story of Ijapa’s pride of wisdom.
Ijapa wanted to know that he was the wisest of the world, so he went to many different animals seeking for an answer. He received answers he was satisfied with until he went to the eagle, who informed him that he may in fact not be the wisest in the world. And so, he set off to find all of the wisdom. Upon his return, Ijapa had believed he found all the wisdom in the world and kept it safe in a gourd tied around his neck. He decided to hide the gourd in tall trees and started to climb. Unfortunately the gourd inhibited him from being able to climb the tree, and with the help of a snail, Mr. Igbin, Ijapa was able to get to the top of the tree. In his realization that Ijapa was not the wisest of all the land, he threw his gourd to the ground and realized that wise people are not prideful people.
The performance received a glowing review from Classical Voice North Carolina, an online arts journal highlighting exemplary performances in our state. Congratulations to the United Strings of Color quartet on yet another marvelous performance!