Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Expanding the Repertoire

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Expanding the Repertoire

Article excerpt

With a grandfather who sang in a traveling gospel quartet, and a mother who was a singer, bassbaritone Dr. Carl DuPont says his decision to pursue music was natural.

DuPont has performed as Leporello in Don Giovanni and as a soloist with the Rochester Oratorio Society, Southwest Florida Symphony and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra.

During a junior year recital, he realized that he wanted to perform more art by Black musicians, composers and artists that included and affirmed the experiences of people who looked like him. In retrospect, he says that his choices of songs to perform were circumscribed by the traditional, canonical resources that were available.

"I realized that this music that we accept as part of the canon, and that is part of the requirement a lot of the times, actually reinforces a hyper-active recognition of Whiteness and that I wasn't being represented," DuPont says. "If we don't see ourselves represented in the art, we don't know that we exist."

He resolved to find a repertoire that spoke to his culture and heritage, says Dr. James Grymes, chair of the Department of Music at University of North Carolina, Charlotte. One of DuPont's subsequent choices was a setting of Langston Hughes' "Dream Variations" by Black composer Margaret Bonds. "At the end of his next recital, he held out the song's final line: 'Night coming tenderly, black like me.'" DuPont finally discovered what it felt like to truly identify with the music he was performing.

Upon his graduation from the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester and then Indiana University, where he received bachelor's and master's degrees, respectively, DuPont started a doctoral program at Indiana University.

He placed his studies on hold, however, as he was encouraged to move to Europe, where he began various performance work in Germany. After performing full-time in an opera house, he felt that the work became monotonous.

"I realized I had more to give than that," DuPont says.

The vocalist-scholar missed interactions with others, where he could share his passion for music and still have direct influence over artistic and administrative decisions. An opportunity to make a difference arose at the University of Miami, where DuPont earned his doctoral degree in vocal pedagogy, allowing him to teach younger musicians. …

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