This year, Corvallis High School Wind Ensemble class has taken up the task of paying tribute to the Civil Rights Movement by selecting the musical piece, A Movement for Rosa, to showcase at the upcoming OSAA 5A Band State performance, scheduled May 11th at the Oregon State University LaSells Stewart Center. Composed in 1992 by Mark Camphouse and originally commissioned by the Florida Bandmasters Association, A Movement for Rosa honors the life of Civil Rights heroine Rosa Parks.
Rosa Parks, sometimes referred to as the “mother of the Civil Rights Movement”, was made famous on December 1, 1955, for her act of courage in refusing to give up her designated “colored section” seat to a white man on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. This act of civil disobedience, combined with other social justice protests in the surrounding years, led to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
In performing A Movement for Rosa, CHS Wind Ensemble has chosen to send an inconspicuous, yet morally significant, message to the musical community. Civil rights again belong on center stage.
The piece, selected by CHS Band Director, Mrs. Poole, is performed in three separate sections. The first section depicts the early years of Rosa Parks in a somber, building movement with meandering harmony. The second section, more colorful and energetic, portrays the years of active protest for civil rights, following Parks’ act of rebellion on the city bus. The third section, written to represent the years after the Civil Rights Movement, communicates a wistful, reflective mood, with quiet strength, and loosely follows the famous Civil Rights hymnal, “We Shall Overcome,” which culminates in a moving tribute to Rosa Parks. The ending, surprisingly ominous and unexpected, concludes somewhat abruptly and its discord warns listeners that civil rights are fragile and may unravel at any moment.
When asked why the CHS Wind Ensemble chose this particular piece, CHS Band Director Mrs. Poole stated the selection was two-part. First, the piece was chosen to highlight the various instrumental strengths and musical acumen of the band. Further, Poole explained she chose the piece as it mirrors current day society. “It’s a response to what’s going on in our country today.”
Bryce Atha, CHS student band co-conductor, added that the piece was selected, “because of what we are going through in society today with progressive movements throughout the country.”
Overall, there are many traditional ways to give tribute to the heroes and heroines of American history. In choosing music, Markhouse found a unique way to recognize Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks, and moreover, CHS Wind Ensemble chose the piece, honoring an important woman of the Civil Rights Movement to uphold the values of Corvallis High School and community.