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Still Life Portrait

San Francisco Ballet orchestra director Denis de Coteau will conduct the Afro-American Music Society Orchestra at USC on Saturday, celebrating the centennial birthday of legendary black composer William Grant Still.

Garrett Morris, of “Roc” and “Saturday Night Live” fame, will be the featured soloist at the benefit performance. Morris, a tenor, will sing five arias from Still operas, including “This Land, This Dark Land” from “Troubled Island” and “In My Soul Flame” from “Bayou Legend.”

The orchestra also will perform four waltzes by Samuel Coleridge Taylor.

Proceeds from the concert will go to the Afro-American Chamber Music Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and performing the works of composers of African descent from around the world. The music society’s 1994-95 season is a yearlong celebration of Still’s birth. Each concert will feature works by the composer. The season ends June 24.

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A composer of 150 works, Still became the first black composer to have a major American orchestra perform a full symphony--"The Afro-American Symphony,” one of his best-known works. Born in 1895, the Mississippi native, who moved to Los Angeles in 1934, was a pioneer in furthering equal rights for blacks, much of which was reflected in his compositions. Still died in 1978.

Saturday’s concert begins at 8 p.m. at Bovard Auditorium, 3601 Trousdale Parkway, one block north of Figueroa Street and Exposition Boulevard on the USC campus. Tickets are a tax-deductible donation of $15 for students, $35, $50 and $75.

Information: (213) 740-4672.


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