African American Choral Ensemble Director Raymond Wise's debut at Carnegie Hall

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dr. Raymond Wise, director of the African American Choral Ensemble, recently performed one of his musical compositions entitled "Saa Naa Se" (Oh Give Thanks) at Carnegie Hall with the National Honor Choir. This choir, conducted by Dr. Andre Thomas, was comprised of 400 high school students from across the country that auditioned to participate. The concert was held on the main stage at Carnegie Hall. 

There is a story behind the music. In spring of 2013, Nana Amoah, a graduate student in African American and Diaspora Studies and also a member of the Choral Ensemble, presented one of her native Ghanaian songs. After hearing this song, Wise arranged a choral arrangement, performed by the African American Choral Ensemble for its 2013 Spring concert. It was following this successful performance that Wise shared his arrangement with Dr. Andre Thomas, a leading African American choral conductor who has a national choral music series with Hinshaw Publications, one of the nation’s top choral music publishers. Thomas requested Wise's piece for consideration for publication. Once presented to Hinshaw, the song was accepted and published last October.

Hinshaw submitted the song for a national program called Editor’s Choice, sponsored by J.W. Pepper, the largest distributor of sheet music in the world. J.W. Pepper accepted Wise's song for Editor’s Choice, and "Saa Naa Se" will now be presented to more than 25,000 choral directors around the world. Wise wrote the dedication on the sheet music to the IU African American Choral Ensemble. Nana Amoah is also acknowledged on the score. 

Thomas also requested the use of Wise's piece with the 2014 National Honor Choir that Thomas was conducting at Carnegie Hall. Thomas invited Wise to come to New York to accompany the Honor Choir for the Carnegie Hall debut of "Daa Naa Se." "It was my honor to travel to New York where I rehearsed with the National Honor Choir and accompanied my composition for the concert at Carnegie," said Wise. "The song was well received by both the choir and the audience. In addition I met many students and teachers with whom I shared information regarding IU and the African American Arts institute." The performance was recorded and will be available on DVD.

Conductors Dr. Andre Thomas, Norman McGill, Dr. Raymond Wise, and Dr. Rollo Dilworth
Conductors Dr. Andre Thomas, Norman McGill, Dr. Raymond Wise, and Dr. Rollo Dilworth.

The National Honor Choir in rehearsal for Carnegie Hall performance
The National Honor Choir in rehearsal for Carnegie Hall performance

African American Choral Ensemble Director Dr. Raymond Wise at piano in choir rehearsal
African American Choral Ensemble Director Dr. Raymond Wise at piano in choir rehearsal

Download the program for performance of Wise's composition, Daa Naa Se (Oh Give Thanks), at Carnegie Hall in March. Dr. Wise's composition was inspired by a traditional Ghanaian song.