Striking spiritual notes

When people speak of music in the Texan twin cities of Bryan and College Station, about 90 miles northwest of Houston, they don’t think just of high-school marching bands. They speak with hushed respect of the Marian Anderson String Quartet, which has played at Lincoln Center, New York, and the Library of Congress, as well as in countless schools, churches, and juvenile correctional facilities. The Quartet has enjoyed teaching residencies at Texas A&M and Blinn College, and runs a music school in Bryan for anyone interested in classical music. Students who cannot afford to pay, are taught free of charge.

The quartet is named after Marian Anderson, the African American contralto from Philadelphia who, despite racial barriers, was eventually acclaimed at home and in Europe, and in 1955 became the first African American to perform with New York’s Metropolitan Opera. It’s not surprising that the quartet’s main preoccupation over the next few months is to have living composers write arrangements for them of spirituals made famous by Anderson.

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