Most people familiar with Dubuque are also familiar with Five Flags Center, the multipurpose event facility in the heart of the downtown area. But how much does the average person know about the “five flags” that inspired the center’s name? Do they know which flags are being referenced, or how they’re connected to the story of Dubuque?
In their upcoming fall concert at Five Flags Center, the Dubuque Chorale, its chamber choir Cadenza, and the Dubuque Chorale Children’s Choir will answer these questions – through music. The program, entitled “Singing Dubuque’s History,” will include songs from each of the five countries whose flags have flown over the city of Dubuque. The songs also date from the historical period that corresponds to each flag.
Dr. Amanda Huntleigh, the Dubuque Chorale’s Artistic Director, explains that with these selections, the concert will tell “a familiar, local story through a different lens, or soundscape. It’s a great way to give life to a history that many may know only in the visual image of those flags.” For those unacquainted with Dubuque’s past, the flags in question represent France (both the Fleur de Lis and French Republic Flag of Napoleon), Spain, Great Britain, and the United States; however, no flag symbolizes the original landowners, the Meskwaki Nation.
Dr. Huntleigh believes it’s important to recognize this, saying, “While [the Chorale] is interested in honoring the connection of indigenous people to this area, we will not be attempting to represent their music out of respect for tribal ownership over such cultural traditions as musical content.”
To portray the cultural traditions of the other nations, however, Children’s Choir director Karmella Sellers remarks that “the children are approaching this concert from the folk song side of things. My favorite [piece] is probably ‘Simple Gifts,’ an American folk song that comes from the Shaker community. The story of the Shakers is inherently American. They were a religious order looking for a place to worship freely, to live the way they wanted to.”
Tickets are $15 and are available through the box office at the Five Flags Center Locust Street entrance.