A classical music to-do list for Black History Month in D.C.


The classical world experienced something of a come-to-Jesus moment during the pandemic. The issue of productions (and paying audiences) evaporating, revealing the vulnerabilities of orchestral ecosystems, and the growing diversity of orchestras and those who listen to them goes beyond the usual bullet points at board meetings. increased urgency.

That said, classical music still has a long way to go. According to figures reported by the Federation of American Orchestras in 2014, only 1.4% of his musicians in American Orchestras were black. His 2016 survey by the League found that 5% of his conductors in larger budget orchestras were black (that number drops to 3.6% in smaller ensembles). ). And black composers are only a small part of the concert repertoire that takes the stage. The rich legacy of American classical music by black artists appears to grow through daily scholarship.

This Black History Month highlights the long proud and unfairly overlooked legacy of black composers and artists in American classical music with a broader range of classical music offerings around Washington, D.C. It also serves as a preview of the major talents that will drive the future.

25 year old Sphinx Symphony Orchestra

Conductors Tito Muñoz and Eugene Rogers, artistic director of the Washington Chorus, kick off Black History Month on January 31 at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Washington Performing Arts. Soprano Andy Marie Moore, Exigence Vocal Ensemble, and members of The Washington Chorus live with Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Valerie Coleman, Michael Abels, Carlos Cordero, Julie Flanders, Kennedy Center composer Carlos Simon. The Mother Box Connection,” but the highlight is the touching by composer Joel Thompson, featuring the last words of a black man, “lost before time,” as Rogers, who led the 2016 premiere, put it. It is a typical multi-movement work “Unarmed His Last Seven Words”. Created by the Michigan State Glee Club. 8:00 PM Kennedy Center, 2700 F St NW. $20 to $50. kennedy-center.org.

“Living the Dream…Singing the Dream”

On February 5 at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Choral Arts, in partnership with Washington Performing Arts, will present the 35th annual choral tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., Jr. NBC4 anchor Sean Yancey hosts this year’s show, featuring DC gospel giant Ralph Alan Herndon. Washington Performing Arts Men’s, Women’s, and Children’s Gospel Choir (led by Artistic Directors Michelle Fowlin and Theodore Thorpe III). Choral Arts led by recently appointed Artistic Director Jace Kahorokula Sapran. The jam-packed program will feature mainstays of spiritual and gospel by artists such as Andre J. Thomas, Melvin Bryant Jr., Evelyn Simpson and his Currenton, along with some Herndon’s own arrangements. As a highlight, Reverend John Adams will receive the 2023 Choral Arts Humanitarian Award. 7pm Kennedy Center, 2700 F St NW. $25 to $75. choralarts.org.

“Our Song, Our Story”

Damien Snead, composer, pianist, and founder of Corral Le Chateau, has put together this program of black artists and composers in honor of legendary opera stars Marian Anderson and Jesse Norman. Accompanied by the Snead and Griotte String Quartet, soprano Jacqueline Echols and baritone Justin Austin will perform solo and duo works by Margaret Bonds, Harry T. Handel, Mozart, Puccini, Verdi, Richard Strauss, Gershwin. His February 10th concert at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater is a joint presentation of his Washington Performing Arts and African American Coalition in the Performing Arts. 7:30 p.m. Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW. $30 to $75. Washington performing arts.org.

fairfax symphony orchestra

Violinist Rachel Burton Pyne’s commitment to performing works by black composers dates back 25 years to her 1997 recording Violin Concertos by Black Composers Through the Centuries. Jose White Lafite; and Samuel Coleridge Taylor. On the newly updated and expanded reissue, Pine re-enacts his chamber recordings with his orchestra in Chicago’s Encore, and Royal His Scottish with his National Orchestra, conducted by the upcoming Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Music Director Jonathon Hayward. We are adding a new recording of Florence Price’s Violin Concerto No. On February 11, at George His Mason University Center His Forge Arts, Pine made his debut with the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra (led by Christopher His Zimmerman), performing Price’s Concerto and Pablo de His Sarasate’s “Bizet’s ‘Carmen'”. I will play Fantasia by 8 p.m. George Mason University Arts Center, 4373 Mason Pond Dr., Fairfax. $45 to $70. fairfaxsymphony.org.

Soprano singer and Philadelphia native Leah Hawkins presents the Marian Anderson Vocal Award. Recital at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater on February 12th. In addition to works by Wagner, Poulenc and Copland, Jacqueline Hairston’s arrangement of ‘Guide My Feet’, William Grant’s Still’s ‘Songs of Separations’ and Jamaican composer Peter Ashbourne’s ‘Soprano and Piano’ 5 Songs for” (based on Jamaican folk songs). She also sings at the premiere of her “Proverbs” at the Kennedy Her Center. 2:00 PM Kennedy Center, 2700 F St NW. $39 to $49. kennedy-center.org.

On February 12th and 13th, the star cellist and winner of the 2022 Chamber Music America Michael Jaffee Visionary Award will be at Dumbarton Oaks for an intimate recital with pianist Andrew Rosenblum. In addition to works by Rachmaninov and Schumann, Woods’ Dumbarton his debut includes music for cello and piano by Florence Price. Coleridge Taylor Parkinson. George Walker, whom Woods celebrated music with a tribute recital at the Phillips Collection last November. 7 p.m. Dumbarton Oaks, 1703 32nd St. NW. Ticket price announcement. doaks.org.

“Our New Day Begins: A Tribute to Black History”

Founded in 1798, America’s oldest continuously active professional music organization prepares to celebrate 100 years (or 225 years) of quasquibi later in the season. In tribute to Black History Month on February 26, Gunnery Sgt. Hiram Dillers presents a program featuring music by Valerie Coleman, Omar Thomas, Adolphus Hailstoke, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Eric Santos. , leading Kevin Day’s Euphonium Concerto, with verse settings by Langston Hughes and Rainer Maria Rilke, sung by tenor Scott Piper. Graduated from the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater and Dance. 2 p.m. Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center, Northern Virginia Community College, 4915 E. Campus Dr., Alexandria. free. marineband.marines.mil.

On February 28, at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, composer Damian Getter (who kicked my socks off last year with “African-American Requiem”) unveiled a new show inspired by the work of photographer John E. Dowell. I’m back with a cycle of songs. “Cotton” features mezzo-soprano Dennis Graves (who plays Mary Cardwell Dawson), baritone Justin Austin and pianist Laura Ward. And the songs themselves draw from the work of poets such as Nicky Giovanni, Mark Bumti Joseph, Afar Michael Weaver, and Trapeta Mason. Presented by the Washington Performing Arts, this concert is also the first Ruth Bader Ginsburg Memorial Recital. 7:30 p.m. Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW. $30 to $75. Washington performing arts.org.

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