Director of Choral Music Travels to The Most Southern Place on Earth

Director of Choral Music Travels to The Most Southern Place on Earth

Declan Siefkas, Governor's Director of Choral Music since 2022, received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to attend a workshop this summer: The Most Southern Place on Earth: Music, History and Culture of the Mississippi Delta. For this unique experience, Siefkas traveled to Cleveland, Mississippi, along with 35 other teachers for a week. There, they took a deep dive into the fabled world of the Mississippi Delta—good and bad—with an emphasis on experiential learning.

Siefkas describes some experiences from the week, saying, “We went to the courthouse where Emmett Till's murderers were tried and found not guilty, dined on catfish and hushpuppies at Airport Grocery, and visited the site on the Mississippi River where the levee broke in 1927.” He truly immersed himself in the culture of the Mississippi Delta to gain a greater appreciation and knowledge of the origins of its music.

He was particularly interested in the origins of “the blues" and recalls his favorite night in Mississippi was spent at Red's Lounge, a Juke Joint in Clarksdale. “At Red's, I experienced a night of full-throated Delta blues by Terry 'Big T' Williams and his band—a night I will never forget,” said Siefkas.

The workshop that Siefkas attended in Mississippi mirrors the place-based learning happening on our campus on the Parker River and Great Salt Marsh. Place-based learning gives students—and teachers—a stronger connection and better understanding of what they are learning about by literally surrounding themselves with the topic.

For more information and to view photos and videos from the week, which include Mr. Siefkas, click here.

Photo credit: The Delta Center for Culture & Learning