York Circle rocks out with the musical ‘Memphis’ on Sunday

From the underground dance clubs of 1950s Tennessee comes a new Broadway musical, Memphis, about fame, forbidden love and the birth of rock ‘n’ roll.

Loosely based on the story of Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips, one of the first white DJs to play black music in the ’50s, this Tony Award-winning production explores America’s emerging popular music scene.

A special high-definition presentation of Memphis, filmed before a live audience at a Broadway threatre in New York City, will be shown at York University in the Price Family Cinema, Accolade East, Keele campus, on Sunday at 2pm. It’s an epic story that explores the triumphs and dark underbelly of racial discrimination and the birth of rock ‘n’ roll.

Rob Bowman, a professor of music in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, will introduce the film. A pioneer of popular music studies, he lectures, publishes and broadcasts in many areas of popular music, from country, R & B and gospel to reggae, rap and funk. Known for his riveting lectures, Bowman will explore in his presentation the nature of racial discrimination involved in early rock and roll in the city of Memphis and the relationship between reality and the musical.

Rob Bowman Right: This Sunday, York’s rocking prof Rob Bowman will introduce Memphis

Bowman has received international recognition for his work as an interpreter and documentarian of historical recordings of popular music. A five-time nominee, he won a Grammy Award in 1996 for Best Album Notes for his 47,000 word monograph accompanying the 10-CD boxed set of The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles, Vol. 3: 1972-1975, which he co-produced.

Parallel to his career as a teacher, writer, critic and broadcaster, Bowman is also a professional musician. His instruments – voice, euphonium, viola da gamba – reflect his eclectic musical interests: he is equally at home performing rock, jazz, rhythm and blues, and baroque music.

The event is organized by York Circle, a program that offers parents and families of York students, alumni, staff and members of the public an opportunity to hear leading York faculty speak about their ideas and their research. The York Circle’s Prestigious Performance series showcases world class concerts, theatre and opera, presented in high definition video, with introductions by some of these professors. The York Circle is supported in part by York’s Alumni Office and print media sponsor Toronto Community News.

To order tickets, visit the York Circle website or call 416-736-5020.