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Ave Maria

alec vanderboom

I came face to face with an original program from Marian Anderson's famous 1939 Easter Sunday Concert performed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. In the days of segregation, this concert marked a historic moment in the civil rights movement. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt organized this event in protest after the Daughter's of the American Revolution refused to rent Constitutional Hall to Anderson if her audience included members of the African-American community. In the end, over 75,000 people attended the Easter Concert and millions more tuned in on that new invention, the radio.

Anderson sang six songs with one intermission. Her accompanist was Kosti Vehanen.


“O Mio Fernando”

“Ave Maria”

"Gospel Train"

"Trampin’ "

" My Soul is Anchored in the Lord.”

The choice of "Ave Maria" surprised me. I'm so glad Our Lady was honored on this historic occasion. Schubert's arrangement of this famous prayer is one of my favorite classical pieces of all time. Someday, I'm going to get my voice in shape enough to do the song justice. In the meantime, I love to play his arrangement on my clarinet.

Here is a link to Ms. Anderson's divine rendition of 'Ave Maria' courtesy of PBS. Conductor Toscanini once described the quality of Ms. Anderson's three octave counter-alto range as "a voice one is privileged to hear only once in a hundred years.” Listening to her song, I realized that the famous conductor was not over-selling his point!