Monday, January 17, 2011



(A Concert featuring Lawrence Beamen and The Gold Coast Chamber Players)
February 25 – 26, 2011

San Francisco’s award-winning AfroSolo Theatre Company proudly presents Harmony & Melody: A Celebration of Black History, February 25-26, 2011. Harmony & Melody: A Celebration of Black History will feature the extraordinary bass baritone vocalist Lawrence Beamen (of “America’s Got Talent” fame), performing Negro Spirituals and traditional African American music in collaboration with The Gold Coast Chamber Players (GCCP). 
Harmony & Melody… was conceived by Beamen and GCCP’s founder and artistic director Pamela Freund-Striplen to use music as a bridge towards racial and cultural unity, peace and understanding.   
“We are very excited to host this concert”, said Thomas Robert Simpson, founder and Artistic Director of the AfroSolo,  “it fits perfectly with our desire of using the arts to explore the bonds that unite all people.  We also view the arts as a vehicle to promote dialogue and healing, especially in wake of the Tucson shooting,” he added.  
In addition to the Negro Spirituals, the GCCP will also perform “Panamanian Dances for String Quartet” (1953) by William Grant Still, one of the most important African-American composers of the 20th Century, and the “American” Quartet by Czech composer Antonin Dvorak, who was deeply influenced by African-American Spirituals and by his friendship with one of the earliest  African-American arrangers of religious music and  prolific composer Harry T. Burleigh.
Beamen, a Walnut Creek resident, is a critically celebrated vocalist.  He was asked to sing for Rosa Parks at an NAACP event honoring the civil rights leader.  He has performed for numerous dignitaries, including former President Bill Clinton and Pope John Paul II.  In 2009, Beamen was one of four finalist to compete on NBC's hit show “America's Got Talent” Season 4, where his powerful rendition of "Ole Man River" (from Show Boat) was critically acclaimed.  Beamen’s theater credentials include the roles of deckhand Joe in Show Boat (2007) and Coalhouse Walker in Ragtime: The Musical (2006), and he was honored with Bay Area Critics Circle nominations for both of these roles.  Recently he performed at a ceremony honoring the great African-American singer and activist Paul Robeson presented by the Eugene O’Neill Foundation.   Robeson had a powerful influence on Beamen as a singer.  Dr. Alvin McLean will accompany him on piano.
Since its founding in 1987, GCCP has become recognized for its high quality performances and innovative programming, offering an annual series of concerts that combine 20th Century and standard repertoire chamber music for mixed instrumentation (strings, brass, reeds, piano, voice.)  They were named the “Best Chamber Group in the East Bay” by the Contra Costa Times. Performers will include: Laura Albers, violin (Associate Concertmaster of San Francisco Opera Orchestra); Hrabba Atladottir, violin (Member of the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra); Robert Howard, cello; and Pamela Freund-Striplen, viola (Artistic Director, GCCP).  
What: AfroSolo presents “Harmony & Melody: A Celebration of Black History.” featuring Lawrence Beamen, baritone, and the Gold Coast Chamber Players.
When: Friday, Feb. 25, 8 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 26, 3 p.m.
Where: African American Art & Culture Complex, 762 Fulton St., San Francisco.  (Free Parking)
Tickets: Early Bird Special: All tickets $15 until Jan. 31; $30 General Admission after Jan. 31, 2011.  
Visit or call (415) 771-2376 for tickets or more information
Founded in 1993, AfroSolo Theatre Company nurtures, promotes, and presents the experiences of African Americans and those from the African Diaspora through solo performances, and the visual and literary arts. Through these arts, people of all ethnicities are brought together to explore and share the human spirit that binds us all.

Funding for the AfroSolo Theatre Company is made possible in part through the support of  the African American Art & Culture Complex, LEF Foundation, San Francisco Grants for the Arts/Hotel Tax Fund, The National Endowment for the Arts and the Zellerbach Family Foundation.
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