IN: News & Features

Lives Mattering in Music


David Patterson (Bill Doncaster photo)

Having written 325 reviews for the Intelligencer, David Patterson stands as an irreplaceable stalwart and champion on these pages. In fact, he authored our first published review in 2008. Like some of his BMInt colleagues, Patterson doubles as a music professor (UMass-Boston), where he teaches theory and composition; he also composes and plays piano [his website is here]. Unlike anyone else on staff, though, Patterson hails from the St. Louis Missouri suburb of Ferguson and graduated from Ferguson High School.

On October 21st at 7:30pm a concert of Patterson’s works, including #FERGUSON, inaugurates music in the new recital hall at UMass-Boston.

In addition to classrooms and an atrium with spectacular views, the Wilson Architect-designed University Hall, originally known as The General Academic Building No. 1, contains a 500-seat auditorium, a black box theater, a 150-seat recital hall, exhibition gallery, lounge, and a café that “foster user interaction and provide an academic and cultural destination on campus.”

Acoustic consultation from from Acentech played a huge role in the success of the Recital Hall; it is marked by stellar acoustics, state of the art sound and lighting, and will serve as the home stage for the UMass Boston Chamber Orchestra, Jazz Ensembles, and student and faculty performances. 

#Ferguson contemplates Patterson’s upbringing with what he calls “a wellspring of hope” that emerged from the vigils which followed the events of summer and fall 2014 stemming from the fatal shooting by a white police officer of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.

Following the death of Brown, the Ferguson community became the focus of national attention on issues of race, law enforcement, and protest. Patterson, who resides in Watertown, followed it closely, at first bewildered that this could be “my Ferguson.” As events unfolded, continuing up to the present, he found greater inspiration in the church vigils that transformed “Hands up, don’t shoot!” to “Hands up, let’s pray”.

“The suite moves from home to school to church, glimpses of what I did most of the time while growing up: practicing the piano, learning about Bach to Bartok at school, and playing for my mother’s Sunday school classes at the Presbyterian church,” Patterson recalls. “Fast-forwarding to the ‘now’, after a cataclysmic scene the music describes the dreaming, stumbling, and determined steps tracing the tune ‘We shall overcome someday,’ emphasizing the ‘someday’. The Finale ‘Hands Up, Let’s Pray’ is an anthem of entreaty, supplication, appeal.

“More than anything, it’s about hope”.

#FERGUSON premiered on September 12th at UMissouri-St. Louis for an occasion coinciding with Patterson’s high school class of ’59 reunion. It and other works by Patterson will be performed at a free concert on October 21st at 7:30pm at UMass-Boston’s University Hall Recital Hall, 100 Morrisey Blvd., Boston. Janice Weber, of the piano faculty at Boston Conservatory and MIT, will perform. The other pieces will feature UMass-Boston faculty member Chaerin Kim (harp) and students Jacsonn Jean (baritone) and Julia Nelson (soprano).

David Patterson, Professor of Music and former Chairman of the Performing Arts Department at UMass Boston, was recipient of a Fulbright Scholar Award and the Chancellor’s Distinction in Teaching Award. He studied with Nadia Boulanger and Olivier Messiaen in Paris and holds a PhD from Harvard University. He is the author of 20 Little Piano Pieces from Around the World (G. Schirmer).


MOdel of Wilson Architect-designed University Hall Recital Hall.
Model of Wilson Architect-designed University Hall Recital Hall.




3 Comments [leave a civil comment (others will be removed) and please disclose relevant affiliations]

  1. I have heard David Patterson perform and he is a gifted artist on the piano. I feel that anyone who is lucky enough to attend his concert will be carried to a new level of musical appreciation.

    Comment by Leslie Hagg — October 7, 2016 at 11:20 pm

  2. Be Careful! “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” actually didn’t happen. Last thing we need is for performers to start going down on one knee a la the NFL (whose own ratings are plunging) and before you know it a good portion of the audience will be staying home. Yes, I see Patterson is from Ferguson and he’s an academic so he must keep up with the campus Zeitgeist but he should be careful. We need a review of this new concert space at UMass-Boston; in the meantime the Black lives I worry about are my Black co-workers who live in higher-crime areas and are now getting denied police protection courtesy of the BLM agitation; when one of them didn’t show for a project I had fears for his safety (he got badly mugged once) but turns out he had merely overslept.

    Comment by Nathan Redshield — October 11, 2016 at 12:45 pm

  3. This composition is not about what is political, not about nostalgia and melancholy. Instead, these seven scenes look upon my native city with empathy and affection. Taking nearly a year to compose #FERGUSON, I wish to offer it as a personal tribute to that city as it was then and is now.

    Comment by David Patterson — October 11, 2016 at 2:47 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, this comment forum is now closed.