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AUBURN, AL (WSFA) -
Auburn music students will soon be heading to New York City to sing songs written by their professor. The Powells met as college students at Alabama State University and they've been making "beautiful music" together ever since.
The husband-and-wife professors don't just teach music. They create it.
Out of all the composers around the world, The American Guild of Organists selected Auburn professor Dr. Rosephanye Powell to create a work based on a biblical character. She spent a year writing "The Cry of Jeremiah".
"'Cry' is a more respectable way of saying 'complaint'," Dr. Powell says.
Since Rosephanye narrates part of the performance, she relies on a conductor to director the choir and orchestra. Her conductor is her husband, fellow Auburn professor Dr. William Powell.
"She's the composer. It's her piece," William says. "It's got to go the way she wants it to go, because it's her concept."
"A lot of things I would have to clean up with another composer, or show my interpretation. We save time cause he's already there," Rosephanye explains.
Auburn students have performed "The Cry of Jeremiah" several times.
"The satisfaction is just seeing it all come together," William admits.
"It's four movements," Rosephanye says of her work, "and the first three movements, are just three different complaints against God. The first movement, he is like many preachers today. He said that God's word is in him like a fire, and even if he tries not to preach it, he has to," Rosephanye says. "Then in the second movement, he goes and expresses to God, "You have deceived me!""
"And all this happens in one chapter," she explains. "He complains, I've been deceived by God. In the third movement, he says, "Cursed be the day I was born." And in that last movement, as we move through "cursed," where he comes to reconcile, he's the better for what he's gone through."
"Even though the problem itself doesn't change, our perspective changes. And then therefore, we have hope. Otherwise we're in despair," William adds.
"Everything he's gone through, or will go through, will make him stronger, and because of that, he can shout, "hallelujah", Rosephanye says.
"I think really for me, the keyword would be hope," William admits. "Trust in God, believe that he will deliver you. That's what the message of the song is. Those are the actual words from the song. There's hope, and you can move forward."
"We go through a difficult place, and we're angry about being there," Rosephanye says. "And when we look back down the road, we say, "I wouldn't want to do it again, but that place changed me." And in a way we're thankful for it. And I think that's the cycle of life for the believer. To end here in a place of bitterness, but ultimately saying, regardless, God is good."
After one final preview performance at Tuskegee with the Golden Voices Concert Choir, it's on to the big stage in the Big Apple: New York City and The Lincoln Center for Performing Arts.
"It'll be overwhelming. It'll be one of joy, especially [since] it's not often a composer gets to be a part of the performance process. If it does what it has done in the past, I will receive great pleasure, because I should end up seeing that in the audience. It will be a very sophisticated audience. And to know that they have been moved by this work, that's what a composer lives for."
The Auburn Choir leaves for New York in a week. They'll be joined by singers from all over the country. The concert is May 10.
The Powells say they dream that one day there will be a performing arts center on campus at Auburn.