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Nathaniel Dett Chorale

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The Music Ministry of Christ Church Cathedral will host a concert on February 13 at 7pm featuring the Nathaniel Dett Chorale in celebration of Black History.  The Chorale specializes in presenting a blend of Afrocentric music throughout Canada and the United States.  This concert is free and open to the public.  Please help us celebrate the musical contributions of Black Americans, Canadians, and Africans, which is a significant part of the rich musical tapestry of the United States.


Robert Nathaniel Dett, often known as R. Nathaniel Dett, was born on October 11, 1882 in Drummondville, Ontario (now part of Niagara Falls, Ontario) the son of Charlotte Washington Dett and Robert T. Dett.  Charlotte was a native of Drummondville while his father was from the United States.  


Nathaniel was among the first Black composers during the early years of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.  He received his Bachelor of Music degree from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.  It was at Oberlin when he was first introduced to the idea of using spirituals in classical style.  He became the first black student to complete the five-year course at Oberlin.  After completing his Bachelor of Music degree,  Nathaniel become the first black director of music at the Hampton Institute in Virginia where he maintained the position from 1913 to 1932.  In 1929, he traveled to France to study at the Fountainebleau school of music with Nadia Boulanger and then earned a Masters of Music degree at the Eastman School of Music in 1932.


Dett joined the United Service Organization as a choral advisor to contribute to the war efforts.  Traveling with this chorus, he died of a heart attack on October 2, 1943.  He is buried in the town of his birth at Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Please join us as we celebrate Black History Month at Christ Church Cathedral with a concert featuring the Nathaniel Dett Chorale.  The concert is free and open to the public!  All are welcome!

Canon Michael Boney



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