UNCP chorus performed at the Museum of the American Indian


A choral group from The University of North Carolina at Pembroke performed May 11 at the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C.

The 25-member Pembroke Singers performed in a unique setting before a large audience, said UNCP Choral Director Dr. Gary Wright.

Chorus“We performed in the Potomac Circle, which is a four-story atrium connected to all parts of the museum,” Dr. Wright said. “We probably sang for several hundred museum visitors. It was a great performance in an incredible location.”

The circle is the heart of the museum and a central gathering place where visitors see live presentations and social events. The word Potomac, which comes from the Piscataway word for the marketplace and honors the Native peoples from the Washington, D.C., area. The Potomac rotunda soars 120 feet to the top of a dome and spans 120 feet in diameter. It is at the museum’s main entrance.

 Gary Wright

Dr. Gary Wright

The Pembroke Singers performed several American Indian selections and other music.

“We took some really, really wonderful music,” Dr. Wright said. “The most interesting piece is called “Snowforms,” and is a piece that consists of Eskimo words for snow.”

Works by Lumbee artists were performed, including “This Love,” by Michelle Locklear McCallum and “Native Women,” adapted by UNCP student Heather Scarboro from a published poem by Barbara Dimery Lowry. McCallum is a UNCP graduate.

“Michelle’s song is gorgeous and probably the student’s favorite,” Dr. Wright said. “I believe we represented the University well.”

The performance was part of a year-end tour that included performances at two North Carolina and two Virginia high schools on the way to Washington D.C.

“Overall it was the best tour we’ve done,” Dr. Wright said. “It fit in with what we are doing as a choir.”


UNCP Bus in front of NMAI

UNCP Bus in front of National Museum of the American Indian

The performance – by a group representing a University founded by and for American Indians – also fit the goals of the National Museum of the American Indian, said Dr. Janita Byars, chair of the Music Department.

“The program was reflective of the mission of the museum, and our music was right on target with its philosophy,” Dr. Byars said. “The museum is both about the history and the contemporary contributions of American Indians.”

“We were honored to be invited, and Dr. Wright did a wonderful job,” Dr. Byars said.

For more information about the Music Department at UNCP, please call 910.521.6230 or email music@uncp.edu.