BC Choir tributes Harriet Tubman


Lizette Chavez

The Bakersfield College Chamber Singers clap along to the music as they perform.

Lizette Chavez, Reporter

The “Freedom” music event was held in the Indoor Theater at Bakersfield College on March 24. The performance is a tribute to Harriet Tubman and her accomplishments.

The event was well attended; there were lines of people hoping to get tickets at the door.

The demand for a seat was so high that some of the reserved seats were given up to accommodate the guests. The event began half an hour later than it was meant to at around 7:30 p.m., where veterans were honored before the “Star Spangled Banner.”

In the first act of the show the selection of songs performed by the Bakersfield College Choir and Chamber singers were supposed to represent Harriet Tubman’s journey to freedom. Conducted by Jennifer Garrett, the first movement performed was “I’m Runnin’ On,” an African American spiritual performed by tenor Chase Adams. Adams, 19, is not black but he shared how the members were chosen for the solo, “She [Garrett] kind of just gives us the music and then if you want to audition for it you audition and she bases off that, on who auditions, she never just chooses and says ‘hey you’re doing the solo’ you have to audition for it.”

The second act was a collaboration between the combined choir and the chamber singers with Ron Kean’s commissioned work “The Journey of Harriet Tubman,” a film by Hannah Kean. The performers sang along to a short biographical film where BC student Shanell Dillard played the part of Harriet Tubman. The film told the story of Tubman’s escape from slavery and those she helped through the Underground Railroad. The film also mentioned other accomplished women in history like Marie Curie and Bessie Coleman. Kean also added conductor Garrett’s name to the list.

“I treasure this collaboration. I hope that Hannah and I have honored Dr. Garrett, her students, and my college home of 23 years with this commission. I am extremely proud to see the program that I led for 19 years thrive under the leadership of this great woman. Those of you who are privileged to know her understand that she inspires all of us to overcome adversity,” Kean said after the show.

The performance received a standing ovation and many of the people involved in the production were emotional. Amber Eliason, 20, said she cried and was very touched because she had history with Tubman. “I have done papers on her, so I already knew a lot about her and was already emotionally connected, and when I found out that we were going to do that I cried. Seeing how much emotion Ron Kean has put behind this music and behind her made me very very excited to sing this music.”