Clazzical Notes Presents "Triumph of the Human Spirit: Music and the African-American Experience" in Honor of Black History Month

Friday, February 23 at 7:00 p.m. at Lineage Performing Arts Center

Published : Friday, February 9, 2018 | 10:16 PM

“The music of hope is everywhere,” writer Christine Knight claims. And Clazzical Notes’ upcoming performance in honor of Black History month – “Triumph of the Human Spirit: Music & the African-American Experience” – helps illustrate this.

On the program, which will take place on Friday, February 23, at 7:00 p.m. at Lineage Performing Arts Center in Pasadena, are works ranging from spirituals (Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen, Every Time I Feel the Spirit) to Broadway blockbusters (Summertime/Porgy and Bess, Your Daddy’s Son/Ragtime, The Impossible Dream/Man of la Mancha) to Prayer, a work by African-American composer Lesley Adams setting the words of Langston Hughes’ poem to music. The program will include Spoken Word – performance art that is word-based – as well, with soprano Gabrielle Thompson sharing excerpts from speeches by singer/activist Nina Simone and bass-baritone LaMarcus Miller presenting further selections by Langston Hughes.

Also joining Thompson and Miller in “Triumph of the Human Spirit” are acclaimed jazz pianist Jonathan Montes, who’ll perform such works as Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World that reflect the immeasurable contribution of African American composers to jazz, and accompanist Grace Chung. Tiffany Owens, Chair of the City of Pasadena Arts and Culture Commission, will act as moderator.

“Triumph of the Human Spirit embraces the character of a people and reveals the impact the African-American community has had on American culture and society,” explains Jerri Price-Gaines, founder and producer of Clazzical Notes. “For generations, the African-American community has used the power of music and the spoken word to express the challenges, obstacles, and sorrows it’s faced and continues to confront today. Yet, as we’ll show, much of the African-American experience is joyous as well. It’s filled with hope.”

Tickets for “Triumph of the Human Spirit” are available free to the public. Lineage Performing Arts Center is located at 89 South Fair Oaks in Pasadena. For more information about the performance, call (626) 529-5133 or visit

Clazzical Notes’ mission is to create engaging, educational, and experiential music programs that foster community understanding across diverse cultures, genres, and generations. For more information about Clazzical Notes, visit or call (626) 529-5133.

About the Artists

Tiffany Owens, moderator

Tiffany Owens is a professional development facilitator specializing in arts education with over twenty years in program and learning experience design, classroom instruction, event production, and performance. A classically trained actor, credentialed veteran educator, and arts advocate, Tiffany serves as the Chair and Mayoral Representative of the City of Pasadena Arts and Culture Commission. She designs and facilitates custom educational theater workshops, professional development training in arts-education, and arts-integrated curricula. As a public speaker she has presented on arts education to Innovate Pasadena, Leadership Pasadena at the Pasadena Playhouse, and The Huntington Library, Art Collection, and Botanical Gardens. Her ongoing professional practice in theater includes appearances in productions with Parson’s Nose Theater Company, Lineage Dance, Machine Project, and Downtown Repertory Theater Company.

Gabrielle Thompson, soprano

Gabrielle Thompson (soprano), is a California native was born in Woodland Hills, California. Gabrielle received her Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. Gabrielle has performed lead roles in Hansel and Gretel (Gretel); The Magic Flute (Pamina); Amahl and the Night Visitors (Amahl); and Motormouth Maybelle in the musical Hairspray. Gabrielle has performed internationally in Germany and southern Italy singing the title role in Amahl and the Night Visitors. Likewise, in 2016, she was selected to be a part of the Young artist program Opera Viva in Verona, Italy. Gabrielle is currently singing in the professional choral group, Tonality, in Los Angeles, California.

Lamarcus Miller, bass baritone

Hailed as “a voice to remember” while performing at The Rockwall Music Festival, LaMarcus Miller has been an active young artist, appearing in a number of leading and supporting operatic roles such as Alidoro in La Cenerntola, Palemon in Thais, Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus, Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Les Comtes Des Grieux in Manon Lescaut, & Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni. In addition to a healthy line up of operatic rep Mr. Miller is no stranger to Oratorio. Upon winning the Nico Castel Master Singer Competition this segued into a Carnegie Hall debut singing Karl Jenkin’s “The Armed Man” Mass of Peace. His biggest footprint in the Operatic World is in the new Opera Fallujah. Mr. Miller made his Kennedy Center Center debut, Long Beach Opera & New York City Opera debut and was invited to TEDMED singing the leading role of USMC Philip in the first Opera on the Iraq War “Fallujah” by Tobin Stokes & Heather Raffo.. “In the opera “FALLUJAH” LaMarcus Miller’s sensitive and vulnerable portrayal is riveting. His vocal command will have you hanging onto every note”- DCMTA

Mr. Miller was then asked to make the official World Premier of Fallujah With Long Beach Opera in which he was praised by Mark Swed of the LA Times: “First turn your attention to a young bass-baritone, LaMarcus Miller. His exacting portrayal, of a veteran battling inner demons as alarming as his Iraqi ones, does a brilliant job demonstrating how to make opera matter.”

Jonathan Montes, jazz pianist

Jonathan A. Montes was born in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. His interest for music began at a early age. He studied at the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico in which he major in Jazz and Caribbean Music Performance In Piano. In 2010 he decided to move to Los Angeles to keep his studies this time in Composition and Production with an emphasis in Film Music. He had worked with artists such as: Israel Houghton, Gilberto Santa Rosa, All 4 One, Cheo Feliciano, Adrienne Bailon, Oscar D’ Leon, Luis Fonsi, Plena Libre, and Sheila E. among many others. Jonathan’s works as a composer and producer appear in series like Jane The Virgin. Montes is also a Latin Grammy nominated artist for his collaboration in bassist Oskar Cartaya’s album “Bajo Mundo”. Jonathan is currently working on his first solo album and is looking to keep expanding his musical path as he becomes one of the most promising musicians of his generation.

Grace Chung, accompanist

Grace Chung began her musical studies at the age of four, and her love of music has continuously grown since then. She received her bachelor’s degree in piano performance from La Sierra University and went on to study at the Manhattan School of Music where she received her Master of Music degree in piano performance. Grace then returned to California where she taught as an adjunct professor of piano at La Sierra University. After several years, Grace returned to school to complete her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Keyboard Collaborative Arts at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music. Currently a recipient of the Irene E. Robertson Endowed Music Scholarship, she is continuing her quest for improvement by pursuing a graduate certificate in organ performance under the tutelage of Dr. Ladd Thomas.

Throughout her years of performance, Grace has had the privilege of sharing her music all over the United States, Europe, and South America. Even while in school, Grace has maintained an active performance career collaborating with many diverse and talented artists. She is currently the organist for St. Mark’s Episcopal School in Altadena, CA as well as the Assistant Organist for the Lake Avenue Congregational Church in Pasadena, CA. In addition to performing, Grace recently completed composition of the score to a musical short film set to enter into production in 2016. She has also been commissioned by the Brehm Center New Music Initiative to write a set of children’s stories and a collection of organ arrangements in celebration of the upcoming 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, which are scheduled to be published this fall.






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