Ithaca High Choir and Orchestra Collaborate with Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers

’Glory’ is a musical description of the struggle for social justice from the past to the present,” Dr. Baruch Whitehead, Director of the Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers (DCJS), said.

The collaboration between the DCJS, a group of college and community singers whose namesake, Dorothy Cotton, was a civil rights icon, has provided an opportunity for IHS students to deepen their understanding of solidarity and allyship.

“The students of Ithaca High School Choir are thoughtful young artists who are not blind to the injustice they see in the world,” IHS Choir Director Kristin Zaryski said. “Particularly this school year, they’ve felt an urgency to learn and do more. Our collaboration with the Dorothy Cotton singers has given us a unique opportunity to connect with community members, share stories, and learn about the ways in which music can be used to challenge thinking, open hearts, and inspire action.”

This work is the result of a four-month collaboration with the IHS Choir and the DCJS involving monthly in-class community development sessions with lessons about the African American spiritual and gospel music, and discussions surrounding representation, anti-racism, bias and allyship.

In addition to this powerful virtual choir project “single,” two additional choir projects will be released in March as part of the IHS virtual theme concert, “Lost and Found.”

The virtual performance of “Glory” engaged numerous people within the ICSD and the Ithaca community. In addition to the IHS Choir and the DCJS, special thanks are due to featured artists Maria Ellis-Jordan, soloist; the “Clarke Fam” John D. Clarke, MD, and son, John D. Clarke, Jr. aka jdc_capa; Ayanda Ntombela, video producer; Alec Staples, audio and video editor; Ian Cummings, percussion; IHS Orchestra Director Jonathan Fleischman; IHS Orchestra students; and Ithaca College instrumentalists.

“A commitment to anti-racist teaching and practices in art and music education requires constant reflection, seeking of knowledge and desire to change responses and practices,” Daphne Shululu, Fine Arts Director for the ICSD, said. “I am grateful to Dr. Baruch Whitehead, Kristin Zaryski and community partners for their ongoing commitment to this vital work and the experiences they are providing emerging musicians in the Ithaca City School District.”

Daphne Shululu ICSD Fine and Performing Arts Director