Santa Monica Public Library presents Beyond Congo Square – The Month of Our People: Joseph Mitchell and William Roper Perform Original Music as Judicanti Responsura

February 4, 2016 5:01 PM

         Santa Monica, California – The Santa Monica Public Library is proud to present Judicanti Responsura on Wednesday, February 17, at 7:30 p.m. in the Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium, 601 Santa Monica Blvd.  Judicanti Responsura, the duo of percussionist Joseph Mitchell and tubaist William Roper, perform a program of original music entitled Beyond Congo Square - The Month of Our People.

           Composer/performers Mitchell and Roper began their musical association in the LAPD Junior Band in the late 1960s. They liked beating drums and blowing loud horns. They did not know that their people were once prohibited from doing so. Once they found out, they formalized their rebellion by founding the tuba and percussion duo Judicanti Responsura in 1984, an ensemble which embraces African American improvising traditions. Mitchell and Roper grew up in Los Angeles' South Central and Watts communities and were somewhat politicized by the experience. Their compositions reflect that in their inspiration, titles, content, and presentation. Judicanti Responsura has recorded on the Asian Improv, Tomato Sage Consortium, and Heliotrope Dreams labels.

     The title for this event refers to the Louisiana slave code that only allowed drumming by African Americans in New Orleans' Congo Square. February is the month we can officially remember such peculiar institutions and practices. This performance features Joseph Mitchell's “Birmingham Sunday (September 15, 1963),” a setting of Langston Hughes' elegy for the four girls killed in an act of race terror during the height of the Civil Rights movement, and William Roper's “Darkest Night – Balthazar Joins the Sacred Company,” which incorporates live performance and a recorded soundscape, imagining the evening the dark-skinned King Balthazar, bearing gifts, follows a star.

     This program is part of the concert series Soundwaves, which features innovative music on the third Wednesday evening of each month.  Soundwaves is sponsored by the Friends of the Santa Monica Public Library.  This event is free and open to the public. Seating is limited and on a first-arrival basis. The Santa Monica Public Library is wheelchair accessible. For special disabled services, call Library Administration at (310) 458-8606 at least one week prior to event. For more information, visit or contact the Santa Monica Public Library at (310) 458-8600.

Media Contact

Robert Graves
Librarian III Branch Manager