Anthony (Tony) Brown, artist-in-residence at Hesston College, Hesston, Kan., will present a concert 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24, in Martin Chapel of the seminary building at Eastern Mennonite University. Brown, a baritone, will present “an evening of spirituals” as part of African-American History Month activities at EMU.
Brown’s specialty is singing music of the American experience. Referred to by some music critics as a “warm and noble baritone,” by some music critics, he has brought this music to audiences in places like the Rainbow Room in New York City, the Crystal Cathedral in Orange, Calif., and the Chicago Historical Society. Whatever the setting, Brown sings with passion and commitment.
His American music repertoire includes Broadway show tunes, opera arias, art song, folk ballads and spirituals. In 1995, he recorded his first compact disc of African American spirituals and was astonished by the immediate enthusiastic response to his music.
“It seemed that this music was awakening our primordial need for the Transcendent,” Brown said. “Our machine-like, fast-paced way of life has left us numb and out of touch with the essential and basic things of life. Efficiency and information overload take center stage while our hearts long for reflection, authentic human relationships and transcendence.”
Brown toured the multi-ethnic country of Bosnia in March 2002 under the sponsorship of the U.S. State Department in March of 2002.
“I was amazed with the overwhelming outpouring of love and acceptance when the people heard the spirituals,” he said. “This music tapped into their pain and brought us together.”
As an ambassador of Peace, he took this and other American music to Northern Ireland in late October 2003 where he toured for two weeks. In May 2005 Brown toured in the Peoples Republic of China. While in Asia, he made his concert debut in Sapporo, Japan. He was invited back to Northern Ireland in October of 2005.
His compact disc, “Embracing American Song,” recorded in 1999, offers a wide array of American songs from the romantic ballad to classic American folk songs. He released his second spirituals recording of spirituals, “Toil and Triumph,” in November 2002.
Brown collaborates with the distinguished baritone, Julian Patrick, and the up-and-coming baritone, Keith Harris, calling themselves “Three Baritones and a Lady.” The lady is Juilliard graduate Lisa Bergman, pianist. Together they perform across the country, singing a diverse repertoire.
Tickets in advance are $6, adults; $3 students; children 12 and under and seniors; admissions is $8 and $6 at the door. Tickets are available from the EMU box office, 540-432-4582.