The Music and Activism of Margaret Bonds Program

GU Orchestra
Prof. Angel Gil-Ordóñez, Music Director

and GU Concert Choir
Prof. Frederick Binkholder, Music Director

The Music and Activism of Margaret Bonds

An evening of newly published works by the 20th Century composer and activist Margaret Bonds


Cafritz Young Artists of Washington National Opera
Katerina Burton, Soprano
Christian Simmons, Bass-Baritone

Saturday, April 2, 2022 at 5 p.m.
(Pre-concert lecture from 4:15-4:45 p.m. with Dr. Michael Cooper, Historian and editor)  

Gaston Hall, Healy Building

Selections from “SIMON BORE THE CROSS” (1965)
Based on the Negro Spiritual “He Never Said a Mumblin’ Word”
Text by Langston Hughes (1901-1967)
Margaret Bonds (1913-1972) Edited by Frederick A. Binkholder

I. Prelude
Mikyoung Cho, Piano

II. Pilate’s Solo – I Find No Fault
Christian Simmons, Bass-Baritone

III. Don’t you know, Mary?

IV. Mary’s Solo – Who is that Man?
Katerina Burton, Soprano

V. The Crucifixion – He Never Said a Mumblin’ Word

to Martin Luther King, Jr.
Based on the Negro Spiritual Theme “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me”

Margaret A. Bonds (1913-72) Edited by John Michael Cooper

I. Decision
II. Prayer Meeting
III. March
IV. Dawn in Dixie
V. One Day in the South
VI. Lament
VII. Benediction

“CREDO” (1964-66)
In Memory of Abbie Mitchell and Langston Hughes
Text by W.E.B. DuBois (1868-1963)
Margaret A. Bonds (1913-72) Edited by John Michael Cooper

I. I Believe in God

II. Especially do I Believe in the Negro Race
Katerina Burton, Soprano

III. I Believe in Pride of Race

IV. I Believe in the Devil and his Angels

V. I Believe in the Prince of Peace

VI. I Believe in Liberty for all Men
Christian Simmons, Bass-Baritone

VII. I Believe in Patience

(There will be no intermission for this performance)

Concert Choir Roster

Anisa Bhandari (SFS ’25)
Kenneth Boggess (SFS ’24)
Ashley Chase (COL ’22)
Catherine Dell’Olio (COL ’25)
Sarah Edmondson (COL ’23)
Yasmina El Argoubi (FQ ’23)
Emma Erdoes (SFS ’25)
Molly Evanko (MB ’25)
Cameren Evans (COL ’24)
Susanna Gregory (COL ’24)
Laetitia Haddad (SFS ’24)
Connor Hartigan (COL ’24)
Andrew Kalyvas (COL ’22)
Emily Krok (COL ’22)
Thy Doan Mai Le (GS, y2)
Felipe Lobo Koerich (GS, y2/3)

Charlie Mei (COL ’25)
Philipp Moeller (SFS ’23)
Cameron Newman (COL ’24)
Clare Nugent (COL ’25)
Grace Parcover (SFS ’25)
Andrea Pun (MB ’22)
Kevin Qi (GS, y1)
Caroline Samoluk (COL ’25)
Theo Simonton (COL ’25)
Brendan Teehan (COL ’25)
Ian Timoteo Franza (COL ’25)
Yuwen Tong (MBA, B2)
Aneirin Truong (COL ’23)
Katie Woodhouse (COL ’22)
Tiffany Zhang (COL ’25)

Prof. Frederick Binkholder – Artistic Director
Prof. Mikyoung Cho – Accompanist
Hojoon Kim – Student Accompanist 
Kenneth Boggess – President

American vocalist Katerina Burton, acclaimed for her “rich and warm” singing (Opera Wire) returned to Washington National Opera for the 2021-2022 season as a Cafritz Young Artist. This spring Ms. Burton will perform the role of Micaëla in the YA performances of Carmen. She also performs as the soloist in Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with the National Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Gianandrea Noseda and in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Marin Alsop. 

She recently made her debut as a Gerdine Young Artist with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in the roles of Verna, Young Lovely, and Evelyn in the world premiere of Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up In My Bones. Burton completed her first engagement at The Metropolitan Opera, hand-selected as an ensemble member for their new production of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess in the 2019-2020 season. Reflecting her versatility, Burton was able to share her passion for art song repertoire when she was selected as a participant in Marilyn Horne’s “The Song Continues” masterclass series at Carnegie Hall in 2018. She was also a Resident Artist with Baltimore Musicales, an arts organization that focuses on bringing song to the Baltimore community and breaking traditional barriers between performers and audiences. Her capabilities in the art of song as well as operatic repertoire have earned her much praise, having performed such notable roles as Mrs. Grose in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, Lola Markham in Douglas Moore’s Gallantry, the title role in Puccini’s Suor Angelica, and Erste Dame in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. Burton has demonstrated success as a competitor by receiving numerous accolades including being chosen by the Gerda Lissner Foundation for their Young Artist Vocal Institute concert series. In addition, she was selected as a finalist in Annapolis Opera’s 29th Annual Vocal competition, awarded the Col. Harry Lindauer and Carrie Kellogg Ray Award, and won 1st prize in the Shirley Rabb Winston Voice Competition for the D.C. Chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letters. Burton was also the recipient of first prize in the Friedmann-Gordon Music Competition as well as the Sidney Lieberman Music Competition, and received an Encouragement Award for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Mid-Atlantic Region. She completed her graduate studies at The Juilliard School under the tutelage of Robert C. White, Jr. where she was a recipient of the Novick Career Advancement Grant, as well as the Gaddes Career Award presented by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

Christian Simmons, bass-baritone, is a native of the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area joining the Cafritz Young Artists of the Washington National Opera for the 2021-2022 season. This season Mr. Simmons made his debut with the company in the documentary film and studio recording of Jeanine Tesori and Tazewell Thompson’s Blue; he will perform the role of Zuniga in the YA production of Carmen in May. He was a featured soloist with Maestro Gianandrea Noseda and the National Symphony Orchestra, performing Mozart’s concert aria Per questa bella mano in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. He has performed with various festivals and companies around the world including the Morgan State University Theater, Bel Cantanti Opera Company, Washington Opera Society, Castleton Music Festival, Amalfi Coast Music Festival, Berlin Opera Academy, Bare Opera Company, and the Maryland Opera Studio. Performance highlights include The Devil and Daniel Webster (Jabez Stone), The Wiz (Lion), Romeo et Juliette (Duke), Le nozze di Figaro (Figaro), L’incoronazione di Poppea (Seneca), Aida (King), Rigoletto (Sparafucile), and La finta giardiniera (Nardo).


Angel Gil-Ordóñez
Music Director

Woojin Lee * 
Dihan Shi (COL ’23) * 
Isabel Klemmer (SFS ‘25)
Helen Poe (COL ’22)  
Charlotte Vitalo (SFS’ 24)
Sebastian Babis (SFS’ 21)
Nidhi Somineni (COL ‘25)
Bridgitte Isom (NHS ’24) 

Meredith Lou (COL ’24) +
Claire Min (SFS ‘24) 
Shreya Dudeja (NHS ‘25)
Yijia Shannon Chen (COL’ 25)
Carolyn Brady (MSFS ‘23)
Henry Skarecky (SFS ‘25)
Sarai Simpson (COL ‘24)

Andrew Cho (SFS ’25) +
Will Nemoy (MSB ’24) +
Abigail Tucker (COL ‘25)
Justin English (COL ‘24)
Madeline Pfister (MSB ‘23)

Kenneth Boggess (SFS ’24)  +
Brittany Peng (COL ‘25)
Isabelle Greenberg (SFS ‘24)
Zhaki Rashada (COL ‘25)
Claire Kim (COL ‘25)

John Scudero (SFS ’23) +

Julia Staley (COL ’24) +
Romita Chattaraj (COL’ 25) +
Yixuan Zhao (COL ’22) 

Jakob Prange (PhD) +
Gobi Hernandez (Guest) +

Joelle La Rue-Gardner (Guest)
Lauren Loeffler (NHS ‘25)

Irene Chang (COL ’24) +
Charlotte Messaris (COL ‘24) 
Ciarra Criscione (COL ’23) 

Anil Anderson (COL ’22) +
Adrian Kalaw (COL ’23) +
Anastacia Tremper (SFS ‘25)

Jack Buckley (MSB ’22) +
Matthieu Liebman (COL ‘24)

Connor Coyle (SFS ’24) +
William Leonard (COL ’23)
Alex Nelson (COL ’23) ♦
Jaron Berman (COL ’23) ♦

Malin Kint (SFS ‘24)

Dustin Garza (COL ‘24)

Zoe Coppola (Guest)

* Concertmaster
+ Principal
♦ Orchestra Manager


SIMON BORE THE CROSS – text by Langston Hughes (1901-1967)

II. Pilate’s Solo – I Find No Fault
And Pilate said of Jesus, I find no fault in him at all, tell me your demands. Release him to us that he me die, you say. I wash my hands, take him and judge him according to your laws. 

III. Don’t you know, Mary?
Don’t you know, Mary, the dark one’s name is Simon? Simon of Cyrene bears the cross for Jesus. Oh, Mary don’t you know? Don’t you know, Mary, the dark one’s name is Simon? Simon of Cyrene came to help your Jesus. Oh, Mary don’t you know?  Did you hear, Mary, Simon has come to share his heavy load? Though high the hill before them and the road ahead is long, don’t you cry Mary. Simon cries with you Mary. Simon cried with you Mary. He is strong and fearless, and he heard a mother’s prayer, his name is Simon. Simon take the cross. Now Mary see the cross, see him raise the cross on his back. Did you hear, Mary, God has sent his servant to walk with Jesus. Black men will share the pain of the cross, black men will share the pain. In a world, Mary, that’s filled with trails and troubles, Simon out of Africa shares your sorrow. 

IV. Mary’s Solo – Who is that Man? 
Who is that man who goes to help my son? Who is he? I never saw him before, I never saw him around. Now he’s come to help my son bear the burden of his heavy cross. Who is that man? Who shares the suffering of my Jesus, the glory of my precious son. Who is that man? So dark, so beautiful his face. Look at this face so strong and full of grace, who is he? Never in the market place have I beheld him could my prayers have sent him here? God keep him strong, and bless his soul, the dark one. Who is that man?

V. The Crucifixion – He Never Said a Mumblin’ Word
They crucified my Lord, and he never said a mumblin’ word, not a word. They nailed him to a tree, and he never said a mumblin’ word, not a word. They pierced him in the side, and he never said a mumblin’ word, not a word. He bowed his head and died, and he never said a mumblin’ word, not a word.

THE MONTGOMERY VARIATIONSMargaret Bonds (1913-1972)

I. Decision
Under the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr and SCLC, Negroes in Montgomery decided to boycott the bus company and to fight for their rights as citizens. 

II. Prayer Meeting
Trut [sic] to custom prayer meetings precedes [sic] their action. Prayer meetings start quietly with humble petitions to God. During the course of the meeting, members siezed [sic] with religious fervor shout and dance. Oblivious to their fellow worshippers [sic] they exhibit their love of God and their Faith in Deliverance by gesticulation, clapping and beating their feet. 

III. March
The Spirit of the Nazarene marching with them, the Negroes of Montgomery walked to their work rather than be segregated on the buses. The entire world, symbolically with them, marches. 

IV. Dawn in Dixie
Dixie, the home of the Camelias known as “pink perfection,” magnolias, jasmine and Spanish moss, awakened to the fact that something new was happening in the South. 

V. One Sunday in the South
Children were in Sunday School learning about Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Southern “die-hards” planted a bomb and several children were killed. 

VI. Lament
The world was shaken by the cruelty of the Sunday School bombing. Negroes, as usual[,] leaned on their Jesus to carry them through this crisis of grief and humiliation. 

VII. Benediction
A benign God, Father and Mother to all people, pours forth Love to His children – the good and the bad alike. 

Bonds’s Program for The “Montgomery Variations” from 1964
“The Montgomery Variations” is a group of freestyle variations based on the Negro Spiritual theme, “I want Jesus to Walk with Me.” The treatment suggests the manner in which Bach constructed his partitas – a bold statement of the theme, followed by variations of the theme in the same key – major and minor. 

Because of the personal meanings of the Negro spiritual themes, Margaret Bonds always avoids over-development of the melodies. 

“The Montgomery Variations” were written after the composer’s visit to Montgomery, Alabama, and the surrounding area in 1963 (on tour with Eugene Brice and the Manhattan Melodaires.)

In December 1960, “The Ballad of the Brown King” was dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr., and presented at Clark Center, YWCA in New York, by the Church of the Master and Clark Center as a benefit to Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Langston Hughes, the author of the text, was present on this occasion. 

CREDO – text by W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963) 

I. I Believe in God
I believe in God, who made of one blood all nations that on earth do dwell. I believe that all men, black and brown and white, are brothers, varying through time and opportunity, in form and gift and feature, but differing in no essential particular, and alike in soul and the possibility of infinite development.

II. Especially do I Believe in the Negro Race
Especially do I believe in the Negro Race: in the beauty of its genius, the sweetness of its soul, and its strength in that meekness which shall yet inherit this turbulent earth.

III. I Believe in Pride of Race
I believe in Pride of race and lineage and self: in pride of self so deep as to scorn injustice to other selves; in pride of lineage so great as to despise no man’s father; in pride of race so chivalrous as neither to offer bastardy to the weak nor beg wedlock of the strong, knowing that men may be brothers in Christ, even though they be not brothers-in-law. I believe in Service—humble, reverent service, from the blackening of boots to the whitening of souls; for Work is Heaven, Idleness Hell, and Wage is the “Well done!” of the Master, who summoned all them that labor and are heavy laden, making no distinction between the black, sweating cotton hands of Georgia and the first families of Virginia, since all distinction not based on deed is devilish and not divine.

IV. I Believe in the Devil and his Angels
I believe in the Devil and his angels, who wantonly work to narrow the opportunity of struggling human beings, especially if they be black; who spit in the faces of the fallen, strike them that cannot strike again, believe the worst and work to prove it, hating the image which their Maker stamped on a brother’s soul.

V. I Believe in the Prince of Peace
I believe in the Prince of Peace. I believe that War is Murder. I believe that armies and navies are at bottom the tinsel and braggadocio of oppression and wrong, and I believe that the wicked conquest of weaker and darker nations by nations whiter and stronger but foreshadows the death of that strength.

VI. I Believe in Liberty for all Men
I believe in Liberty for all men: the space to stretch their arms and their souls, the right to breathe and the right to vote, the freedom to choose their friends, enjoy the sunshine, and ride on the railroads, uncursed by color; thinking, dreaming, working as they will in a kingdom of beauty and love. I believe in the Training of Children, black even as white; the leading out of little souls into the green pastures and beside the still waters, not for pelf or peace, but for life lit by some large vision of beauty and goodness and truth; lest we forget, and the sons of the fathers, like Esau, for mere meat barter their birthright in a mighty nation.

VII. I Believe in Patience
Finally, I believe in Patience—patience with the weakness of the Weak and the strength of the Strong, the prejudice of the Ignorant and the ignorance of the Blind; patience with the tardy triumph of Joy and the mad chastening of Sorrow.