World-renowned jazz violinist Regina Carter will give the world premiere of a violin concerto written by the Grammy-winning composer William “Billy” Childs at the Classical Roots concerts. The work is one of three compositions by contemporary African-American composers to be performed by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
The Classical Roots concerts will take place on Friday, Jan. 29, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, Jan. 30, at 8:30 p.m. in Orchestra Hall at the Max M. Fisher Music Center. It will be conducted by Leonard Slatkin, DSO music director.
The program will also include “Lumina” by celebrated composer Olly Wilson and “Beyond Rivers of Vision” by James Lee III, of St. Joseph, Michigan. Additionally, the Brazeal Dennard Chorale, directed by Augustus Hill, will sing a set of a capella selections. The performance will open with “Life Ev’ry Voice and Sing.”
In addition to the two Classical Roots performances, the DSO will host the Classical Roots Celebration, an elegant fundraising event that will take place on Saturday, Jan. 30.
The much-anticipated gala event raises awareness about the contributions of African Americans to classical music and supports increased opportunities through special educational programs, such as the DSO’s African-American Orchestra Fellowship Program, a mentoring opportunity for young professional musicians.
The celebration begins at 7 p.m. with a cocktail reception at the Max M. Fisher Music Center, followed by the Classical Roots concert at 8:30 p.m. Following the concert, guests are invited to a “dancing and dessert” afterglow.
Regina Carter has established a reputation for blurring the lines between jazz and classical music. Born and raised in Detroit, and a member of the DSO’s Civic Jazz Orchestra while in her teens, Carter was named a 2006 winner of the MacArthur Fellowship.
She has performed with a who’s who of jazz giants, pop and R&B stars, and has released five albums of her own, including the classically-infused “Paganini: After a Dream.” The album was recorded after Carter became the first jazz musician and first African American to play the legendary Guarneri del Gesu violin owned by Nicolo Paganini.
Carter and her touring band have performed with numerous orchestras, including the Atlanta Symphony, the Milwaukee Symphony and the Minnesota Orchestra, as well as a special engagement with the Boston Pops.
Billy Childs has long enjoyed a duel career as a jazz pianist and composer. He has received commissions from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and the Monterey Jazz Festival, among others. As a performer, he began a solo jazz recording career in 1988 and has been nominated for eight Grammys, two of which he won.
Founded in 1972, the Brazeal Dennard Chorale is a group of highly trained singers dedicated to developing the choral art to its highest professional level. The Chorale is deeply committed to the rediscovery and performances of significant choral works by African-American composers.
The Chorale’s yearly schedule includes concerts throughout the metro Detroit area. These “ambassadors for Detroit” also accept numerous invitations to perform, as well as conduct, choral workshops at universities, churches and notable choral music conventions across the United States.
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