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Outside Voices Concert
June 19 at 7:30 pm
Due to the forecast of rain, we are moving tonight’s Outside Voices Concert to E.J. Thomas Hall. The doors to the hall will open at 6:30 p.m. and the concert will begin at 7:30 p.m.
RSVP for the Concert
While all the concerts in the Outside Voices series are free, we ask that those planning to attend RSVP by filling out the form below. As our way of saying “thank you,” everyone who RSVPs will be entered into a drawing for two tickets to an ASO concert at E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall during the 2020-21 season.
Did You Know?
J. Rosamond Johnson was one of the more important figures in black music in the first part of the 20th century, usually in partnership with Bob Cole or with his brother James Weldon Johnson. While he is chiefly remembered today as the composer of the Black National Anthem, Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing, he had a varied career as a pianist, songwriter, producer, soldier, singer, and actor. Johnson’s compositions skills were the strongpoints of his musicals and vaudeville performances. Musicologist Thomas Riis considers Johnson’s harmonic language to be the richest of all the other black theater composers of his time save for Will Marion Cook. (Source: Library of Congress)
James Weldon Johnson was a civil rights activist, writer, composer, politician, educator and lawyer, as well as one of the leading figures in the creation and development of the Harlem Renaissance. Johnson worked as a principal in a grammar school, founded a newspaper, The Daily American, and became the first African American to pass the Florida Bar. His published works include The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912) and God’s Trombones (1927). in 1900, James and his brother, John, wrote the song Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing, which would later become the official anthem of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The Johnson brothers would go on to write more than 200 songs for the Broadway musical stage. (Source: biography.com)
Florence Price was the first Black female composer to have a full-length work performed by a major orchestra when the Chicago Symphony Orchestra premiered her First Symphony on June 15, 1933. Price’s musical style was connected to African-American melodies, spirituals and rhythms, and several of her pieces were inspired or based on folk tunes, including Folksongs in Counterpoint. (Source: vpr.org)
William Grant Still was one of the most prominent African American contributors to the history of classical music, a leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance, and known to his colleagues as the “Dean of Afro-American composers.” Still composed the first symphonic work by a black composer to be performed by a major U.S. orchestra, the Afro-American Symphony, premiered by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in 1931. By blending jazz, blues, and spirituals into a traditional classical form and placing them within the context of the concert hall, Still highlights these styles as something to be celebrated, rather than downcast as low class or vulgar music.
Nkeiru Okoye is perhaps best known for her opera, Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed that Line to Freedom, the orchestral work, Voices Shouting Out, which she composed as an artistic response to 9/11, and her suite, African Sketches, which has been performed by pianists around the globe. Profiled in both the Music of Black Composers Coloring Book and Routledge’s African American Music: An Introduction textbook, Dr. Okoye is also the inaugural recipient of the Florence Price Award for Composition. (Source: nkeiruokoye.com)
Omar Thomas’ Come Sunday is a two-movement tribute to the Hammond organ’s central role in black worship services. The first movement, Testimony, follows the Hammond organ as it readies the congregation’s hearts, minds, and spirits to receive The Word via a magical union of Bach, blues, jazz, and R&B. The second movement, Shout!, is a virtuosic celebration – the frenzied and joyous climactic moments when The Spirit has taken over the service. The title is a direct nod to Duke Ellington, who held an inspired love for classical music and allowed it to influence his own work in a multitude of ways. (Source: omarthomas.com)
Jessie Montgomery is an acclaimed composer, violinist, and educator. She is the recipient of the Leonard Bernstein Award from the ASCAP Foundation, and her works are performed frequently around the world by leading musicians and ensembles. Her music interweaves classical music with elements of vernacular music, improvisation, language, and social justice, placing her squarely as one of the most relevant interpreters of 21st-century American sound and experience. (Source: jessiemontgomery.com)
George Walker was a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, pianist and educator. His music was firmly rooted in the modern classical tradition, but also drew from African-American spirituals and jazz. His nearly 100 compositions range broadly, from intricately orchestrated symphonic works and concertos to intimate songs and solo piano pieces. A graduate of Oberlin College, George was the first African-American pianist to play a recital at New York’s Town Hall, the first black instrumentalist to play solo with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the first black graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. (Source: npr.org)