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Adams Music Research Institute to Present a Performance Forum on V.I. Music and Dance Traditions

June 16, 2005 – Words and music, words about music, explain, perform: it all comes together. The Alton Augustus Adams Music Research Institute, in association with the Center for Black Music Research of Columbia College Chicago, will present another of their popular free public events on July 1 on St. Thomas.
The Institute concentrates on traditional Virgin Islands music and musicians, and the evening's "Performance Forum on V.I. Music and Dance Traditions" combines words and music to create a festive evening. The event will be held at 7 p.m. at Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School. Ruth Moolenaar will be the featured speaker. She authored and produced a lasting legacy of many educational publications relating to V.I. culture, particularly during her position with Project Introspection. Presenting the sights and sounds of V.I. culture will be Milo's Kings, the Bertha Boschulte Middle School's Burning Blazers Steel Band, Caribbean Chorale, Lockhart Elementary School Quadrille Dancers and St. Thomas Heritage Dancers.
Milo's Kings started in 1997 after the death of Emile "Milo" Francis, who was the originator in the 1950's of Milo and the Kings. Many V.I. feet remember dancing to their sounds.
The Caribbean Chorale, currently directed by Kirsten Kienberger, was founded in 1967. Five members of the original group still sing, and many V.I. ears remember hearing the group perform all sorts of music. A 2004 legislative bill proclaimed the Chorale as the "official ambassadors of the choral music of the Virgin Islands."
The Bertha Boschulte Middle School's Burning Blazers, a steel band under the leadership of Liston Sewer, will be playing on their home ground.
The St. Thomas Heritage Dancers, under the leadership of Edwin Davis, was officially organized in December 2004 and debuted at the St. Thomas Transfer Day Celebration.
The Lockhart School Cultural Dancers began as a small group performing for school programs. Under the leadership of Sandra Reed, it has developed over the past five years into a large nonprofit organization with 60 members who perform at many public events.
The forum is funded in part by grants from the V.I. Council on the Arts, the V.I. Humanities Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Refreshments will be provided following the forum.
The event is a closing capstone to a four-day professional development workshop for V.I. music teachers that will take place earlier in the week. The "Passing on the Culture" workshop will provide V.I. teachers with ways to integrate Virgin Islands music and arts into academic disciplines in elementary and secondary education.
AMRI and the Center have sponsored several workshops, including techniques of oral history interviews of V.I. musicians on St. Croix and St. Thomas, and a colloquium of professional musicologists on St. Croix. They have presented free Summits of Tradition Bearers on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John, featuring the words and music of more than 30 V.I. musicians, including Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights, Jamesie, Alwyn "Lad" Richards, Delita O'Connor, and Gail Watson Chiang.
The Research Institute was established in 2001 as a branch of the Center that focuses on music of the Caribbean in general and the Virgin Islands in particular. It is named for Alton Augustus Adams Sr., the first black bandmaster in the U.S. Navy and is located on the first floor of his ancestral home in Charlotte Amalie. AMRI's facilities have a non-circulating resource center of music reference works with a particular focus on the Circum-Caribbean, archives of primary and secondary materials including photographs, and a reading room with computer terminals providing online access to Internet research sites and the online catalog of the CBMR Library and Archives. Later this year it will become a repository for materials created by Alan Lomax during his 1962 travels about the Caribbean collecting folk music.
For further information call 715-5680. For more information about the Center for Black Music Research, visit www.cbmr.org or call (312) 344-7559.

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