Memoria de Memoria
for Keith Cooper and Chicago’s 793 Homicide Victims in 2021
Saturday, July 23, 7pm
photographs, mementos, and candles to remember those lost are welcome
The Adrian Dunn Singers
Augustana Lutheran Church of Hyde Park
5500 South Woodlawn Ave • Chicago, Illinois
On July 14, 2021, Keith Cooper, father and grandfather, Vietnam War Veteran, jazz lover, bowler, mentor, and friend of many, died after a botched carjacking in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. Mr. Cooper’s was just one of 793 persons killed in Chicago by guns and senseless violence in 2021. In honor of the first anniversary of Keith Cooper’s death, Nancy Goede, Parish Pastor, Augustana Lutheran Church of Hyde Park, where Cooper was a member, organized a community group to honor him by raising money for a starter-grant fund for scholarships for young people. As part of the memorial service, paster Goede asked me to compose a work to and honor and celebrate the humanity of Keith, as well as to remember others Chicago homicide victims.
I worked with Keith on a project that was very important to him, Blood Lines: remembering the 1919 Chicago race riot, an installation at Augustana Lutheran Church. Mr Cooper was one of several community members who read the names, ages, and circumstances of death of Chicagoans killed in that red summer. I felt it particularly important to honor Mr. Cooper with a composition, and to join with other community members and survivors to celebrate the human spirit of lives lost to senseless violence.
Memoria de Memoria—loosely, “Memory of the Heart”—is an hour-long meditative composition for twelves voices. The memoria de memoria text is sung on troubadour melodies, which are based on the church modes and are related to jazz scales. All 793 names will be spoken in time—January through December—with each day represented by ten seconds of the score. As a meditation, audience members are encouraged to come and go quietly during the performance, light memorial candles, offer photos and mementos to remember those lost, or to call out the name of a family member or friend who they wish to remember. As each person killed is unique, each of the twelve voices is a soloist, positioned around Augustana’s sanctuary.
This premiere performance is by the Adrian Dunn Singers. The Adrian Dunn Singers are
Teniya Fernandez Mack
Ahmed Al Abaca, conductor
The Adrian Dunn Singers (ADS) is a professional vocal ensemble founded by Adrian L. Dunn. Members of the group have trained at some of the top conservatories and universities across the country. They exist to reclaim the narrative that African Americans are the authors of American music. Their vision is to offer professional concert programming for Black communities that deserve World-class music presentations that reflect their experiences. The group tours nationally, and has recorded three commercial album projects: Redemption, The Black Messiah and Revelations.
Past performances of the Adrian Dunn Singers include appearances at The National Cathedral in Washington, DC; the Thomas Dorsey National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses in Dallas, TX; and at Payne Theological Seminary for their presidential inauguration in 2017 in Columbus, OH. They performed the Seven Last Words of the Unarmed by Joel Thompson at Chicago’s Symphony Center and Wentz Concert Hall in 2019 with the Chicago Sinfonietta. In 2019, they performed at Rollins College in Orlando, FL. They also were included in the Art Institute of Chicago’s “Prayer” exhibit. In 2021, the group performed Adrian Dunn’s Redemption at Chicago’s Harris Theater with the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra. Their recent West Coast tour included debut performances at Meng Concert Hall and the Segerstrom Center for the Arts with the South Side Symphony of Los Angeles in 2022. They recently completed the Mozart Requiem with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra.
ABOUT ADRIAN DUNN
Adrian Dunn is an acclaimed singer, songwriter and producer with a Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degree in Voice from The Music Conservatory at Roosevelt University, along with additional musical studies in opera at The Sibelius Academy of Music in Finland.
Dunn has had the privilege of working with gospel greats such as Tremaine Hawkins, Myron Butler, Melonie Daniels, Troy Bright, Lamar Campbell and many more. His awards include Album Producer of the Year for AME Live featuring the AME International Mass Choir from the Rhythm of Gospel Awards and for his original work Hopera: A Hip Hop Opera he was honored with a MacArthur Grant, which allowed him a nomination for Best Music Director from the Black Theater Alliance Awards as well.
As a singer, Dunn has opened for international Hip Hop Recording Artist The Roots and performed with the Chicago Symphony Chorus, Grant Park Symphony Chorus, Blossom Festival Chorus, as a soloist with the North Shore Choral Society, in the CCM Spoleto Opera Festival in Spoleto, Italy and is a frequent soloist in Handel’s Messiah. He also sang the lead role in the 2017 Chicago premiere of the Paul Laurence Dunbar opera The Poet and in 2016 served as the opera chorus master for the Midwest premiere of the opera Harriet Tubman – When I Crossed That Line to Freedom with the South Shore Opera Company of Chicago.
Dunn has been a guest artist and presented lectures at top universities in the country including The University of Chicago, The University of Wisconsin, The School of the Art Institute, McCormick Theological Seminary, Illinois State University, Columbia College Chicago, California State University and many more.
He served as principle vocal coach for Kanye West’s artist development program Donda’s House and his private voice students can be seen in Broadway National tours of LION KING, GHOST, KINKY BOOTS, RENT, BET’s show Sunday Best, Drury Lane Theater, The Paramount Theater, Black Ensemble Theater, and as background vocalists for major record label artists on tour throughout the US and abroad. For more information, please visit adriandunn.com.
ABOUT THE CONDUCTOR
Ahmed Al Abaca is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, conductor, and facilitator. They’ve had the fortune of being commissioned and performed by ensembles, national radio, and Theatre companies throughout the United States and Europe. As the new Music Director of the South Loop Symphony Orchestra, a community orchestra based in Chicago, Ahmed’s focus is to present new music, specifically music written by composers of color. Ahmed believes in the transformative power of music, and if you do as well ,please support your local music organization, composer, performer, and programs that showcase art and music by overlooked communities. For more information, please visit ahmedalabaca.com.
The performance is partially supported by grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.