A previous Classical Roots Concert series event.
Photo Courtesy of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Music is what you make of it and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) will be making melodious memories at its 44th annual Classical Roots Celebration March 4-5 in a hybrid in-person/virtual event.
Classical Roots honors African American composers, musicians, educators, and leaders for lifetime achievement and raises funds to support the DSO’s African American music and musician development programs.
The 44th annual Classical Roots concerts will take place in Orchestra Hall on Friday, March 4 at 10:45 a.m. and Saturday, March 5 at 8 p.m. The Brazeal Dennard Chorale—a vital part of Classical Roots since its inception—and Artistic Director Alice McAllister Tillman with pianist Dr. Stanley Waldon will open both performances with Lift Every Voice and Sing, which has been performed at the beginning of every Classical Roots concert since the event’s inauguration in 1978. The Chorale will also perform selected Spirituals at each concert.
The Friday morning Coffee Concert conducted by William Eddins will include Florence Price’s Piano Concerto in One Movement and works by Scott Joplin with guest pianist Lara Downes, plus William Grant Still’s Serenade, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Ballad in A minor, and Toast of the Town – Overtureby Classical Roots Composer in Residence Quinn Mason.
Jill Elder, vice president and chief revenue officer at the DSO told the Michigan Chronicle that the celebration taking place at The Orchestra Hall will be one to remember.
“This event is really raising awareness about the impact that African Americans have had in classical music specifically,” she said adding that funds raised also to support the DSO’s African American fellow program is the cherry on top. “It is an opportunity for young musicians to be able to participate in the orchestra experience and to gain support and mentorship regarding the audition process. And through this program.”
On Saturday, Eddins will return to lead the DSO and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. The program will include selections by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and Wynton Marsalis’s “Swing Symphony,” which is inspired by composers like Ives, Gershwin, Copland, and Ellington, and taps into the spirit of American diversity and optimism.
The March 5 performance will also be webcast for free at dso.org and via Facebook Live as part of the DSO’s Live from Orchestra Hall series. The March 4 at 10:45 a.m. concert will be broadcast and streamed live on 90.9 WRCJ in Detroit and a network of stations across Michigan.
The concerts will be the culminating event of monthlong Classical Roots educational and community offerings:
On February 13, the DSO will hold two performances at the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit. The first performance will take place at the end of the 7:30 a.m. service (approximately 9:30 a.m.), and the second performance will take place before the 11 a.m. service.
On February 28, DSO musicians will perform a Chamber Recital at Plymouth United Church of Christ in Detroit. The program will feature repertoire by African American composers and works by Classical Roots Composer in Residence Quinn Mason. This performance is free and open to the public; tickets must be reserved in advance at dso.org or by calling the Box Office.
Also on February 28, the DSO will host two free virtual school visits centered on Classical Roots. The sessions will take place from 9:30 to 10:10 a.m. and 1 to 1:40 p.m. via Zoom. In each 40-minute session, students will have the opportunity to hear directly from a musician to learn more about their experience as a professional musician and career paths in music. To register for the morning session, please click here. To register for the afternoon session, please click here.
On March 2, the DSO will present a Classical Roots-themed Educational Concert Series performance, which will include Florence Price’s Concerto for Piano in D minor with Lara Downes and a piece by Composer in Residence Quinn Mason.
On March 4 at 8 p.m., the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis will perform original compositions, arrangements, and music by beloved jazz giants on the Paradise Jazz Series. Please note: the DSO does not appear on this performance.
About Classical Roots
The first Classical Roots concert took place in 1978 at Detroit’s historic Bethel AME Church. Co-founded by the DSO’s then-Resident Conductor Paul Freeman, along with other prominent African American leaders including choral director and artistic administrator Brazeal Dennard, Classical Roots soon outgrew Bethel AME and moved to Orchestra Hall in 1981, where it has been a beloved annual tradition ever since. The gala Classical Roots Celebration and lifetime achievement component were added in 2001. The Celebration was named the Arthur L. Johnson – Honorable Damon Jerome Keith Classical Roots Celebration in 2019 following a generous endowment gift from Dr. William F. Pickard who counted Johnson and Keith as his two biggest mentors.
The Celebration raises funds to support the Classical Roots mission and is organized by a dedicated steering committee, co-chaired this year by Jasmin DeForrest and Linda Forte. Celebration attendees will enjoy a hybrid experience including a delivered dinner and wine along with options to attend the concert in person or virtually. For information on the Classical Roots Celebration, contact DSO Signature Events Manager Ali Huber at email@example.com or 313.576.5449, or visit dso.org/classicalroots.
To protect the health and well-being of its patrons, musicians, and staff due to the ongoing pandemic, DSO safety policies include mask and COVID-19 vaccine or test requirements for all guests and contactless e-ticketing. Visit dso.org/safetyplan for the latest information.
Tickets for the March 4 and 5 Classical Roots concerts start at $15. Tickets for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis on the Paradise Jazz Series start at $12 for digital tickets and $19 for in-person tickets. Tickets for the February 28 Chamber Recital are free, yet must be reserved in advance. Tickets can be purchased at dso.org or by calling the Box Office at 313.576.5111, open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Classical Roots is presented by Stanley and Judy Frankel with additional support from JPMorgan Chase, the DTE Foundation, and Joanne Danto and Arnold Weingarden. The 2022 Celebration is additionally supported by AAA Michigan, Ascension Michigan, W. Harold & Chacona W. Baugh, Julie & Peter Cummings, Fred A. & Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, Lauren & Phillip Fisher, MGM Grand Detroit, Mary Ann & Robert Gorlin, Ann & James Nicholson, and the Rocket Community Fund.
The title sponsor of the DSO’s Classical Series is PVS Chemicals, Inc. The Paradise Jazz Series is made possible with support from Huntington and MGM Grand Detroit. DSO Live is presented by Ford Motor Company Fund and made possible by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Digital programming is produced from the Al Glancy Control Room.
About This Year’s Honorees
Dr. Glenda Price
DSO Board of Directors Officer at Large Glenda Price, Ph. D, served as the first African American president of Marygrove College from 1998 to 2006, and the president of the Detroit Public Schools Foundation from 2012 to 2016. She is a three-time Temple University graduate, holding positions at the university as a cytotechnologist, associate professor, department chair, and assistant dean of the School of Allied Health Professions. She also served as dean at the University of Connecticut and as provost at Spelman College.
During her more than 30 years in higher education, Dr. Price served on several university boards and committees managing such issues as affirmative action, educational programs and policies, and student welfare.
She has served as a board vice chair for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, chair for Focus: HOPE and Detroit Receiving Hospital, and a board member for the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Council of Michigan Foundations, Detroit Receiving Hospital, The YES Foundation, Detroit 90/90, the Michigan Science Center, Compuware Corp., Detroit Cristo Rey High School, The Jewish Fund, Association of Schools of Allied Health Professionals, LaSalle Bank, and the Public School Academies of Detroit, which governs the University Preparatory Academy. While serving as a board member for the Michigan Colleges Foundation, Dr. Price was tapped to serve for eight months as its interim president.
Additionally, Dr. Price has served on numerous professional associations including the American Society for Medical Technology as the national president from 1979‐1980, chief delegate for the U.S. to the International Association for Medical Laboratory Technologists, president of the National Certifying Agency for Medical Laboratory Personnel, and on the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.
Dr. Price is a member of The Links, Inc., and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Dr. Price has volunteered with numerous organizations and agencies including Detroit’s Blight Removal Task Force and an appointment by the Governor of Michigan to serve on the Financial Advisory Board for the City of Detroit.
From Oakland Symphony:
Music Director Laureate of the Oakland Symphony, Michael Morgan was born in Washington, D.C., where he attended public schools and began conducting at the age of 12. While a student at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, he spent a summer at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, studying with Gunther Schuller and Seiji Ozawa. He first worked with Leonard Bernstein during that same summer.
Morgan’s operatic debut was in 1982 at the Vienna State Opera, conducting Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio. In 1986, Sir Georg Solti chose him to become the Assistant Conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for seven years under both Solti and Daniel Barenboim. In 1986, he was invited by Leonard Bernstein to make his debut with the New York Philharmonic. As guest conductor, Morgan appeared with most of America’s major orchestras, as well as the New York City Opera, St. Louis Opera Theater, and Washington National Opera.
In addition to his duties with the Symphony since 1991, Morgan served as Artistic Director of Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra, Music Director at Bear Valley Music Festival, and Music Director of Gateways Music Festival. He was Music Director Emeritus of the Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera, and was on the boards of Oaktown Jazz Workshops, and the Purple Silk Music Education Foundation.
In 2020, he began an association with the San Francisco Symphony as the first curator of their Currents online series and led the Orchestra on July 23 at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco about which Joshua Kosman said, “Some conductors use a guest appearance with a major orchestra as an opportunity to show what they can do. Michael Morgan uses it to show what the orchestra can do. I like his way better.” (San Francisco Chronicle).
Morgan died peacefully in August 2021 at Oakland Kaiser where he had been admitted for an infection. He is survived by his mother, Mabel Morgan, and sister, Jacquelyn Morgan.
About the Artists
William Eddins is Music Director Emeritus of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and a frequent guest conductor of major orchestras throughout the world. Internationally, Eddins was Principal Guest Conductor of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra (Ireland). Career highlights include taking the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra to Carnegie Hall in May 2012, conducting RAI Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale on Italian television, and leading the Natal Philharmonic on tour in South Africa with soprano Renée Fleming. Equally at home with opera, he conducted a full production of Porgy and Bess with Opera de Lyon both in France and at the Edinburgh Festival. Eddins is an accomplished pianist and chamber musician and regularly conducts from the piano in works by Mozart, Beethoven, Gershwin, and Ravel. He has released a compact disc recording on his own label that includes Beethoven’s Hammer-Klavier Sonata and William Albright’s The Nightmare Fantasy Rag. Eddins has performed at the Ravinia Festival with both the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Ravinia Festival Orchestra. He has also conducted the orchestras of the Aspen Music Festival, the Hollywood Bowl, Chautauqua Festival, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.
The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO) comprises the finest jazz soloists and ensemble players today. Led by Wynton Marsalis, Jazz at Lincoln Center Managing and Artistic Director, this remarkably versatile orchestra performs a vast repertoire ranging from original compositions and Jazz at Lincoln Center-commissioned works to rare historic compositions and masterworks by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Fletcher Henderson, Thelonious Monk, Mary Lou Williams, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Charles Mingus, and many others. The JLCO has been the Jazz at Lincoln Center resident orchestra since 1988, performing and leading educational events in New York, across the United States, and around the globe. Alongside symphony orchestras, ballet troupes, local students, and an ever-expanding roster of guest artists, the JLCO has toured over 300 cities across six continents. Guest conductors have included Benny Carter, John Lewis, Jimmy Heath, Chico O’Farrill, Ray Santos, Paquito D’Rivera, Jon Faddis, Robert Sadin, David Berger, Gerald Wilson, and Loren Schoenberg.
The Brazeal Dennard Chorale, founded in 1972 by Dr. Brazeal W. Dennard, is one of the longest standing organized choral groups in the country. For more than four decades, the Chorale has inspired audiences with its vocal excellence in the performance of choral music of all genres, while it continues to pursue the mission of its founder: to remember, discover, and preserve the spiritual music of the African American experience and culture.
Pianist Lara Downes has been called “an explorer whose imagination is fired by bringing notice to the underrepresented and forgotten” (The Log Journal). An iconoclast and trailblazer, her dynamic work as a sought-after performer, a Billboard Chart-topping recording artist, a producer, curator, activist, and arts advocate positions her as a cultural visionary on the national arts scene. Ms. Downes’ musical roadmap seeks inspiration from the legacies of history, family, and collective memory, excavating the broad landscape of American music to create a series of acclaimed performance and recording projects that serve as gathering spaces for her listeners to find common ground and shared experience.
Quinn Mason (b.1996) is a composer and conductor based in Dallas, Texas. His music has been performed by the Dallas Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Utah Symphony, Toledo Symphony, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI, loadbang, Atlantic Brass Quintet, Voces Intimae, and others. A multiple prize winner in composition, Mason is the recipient of awards from the American Composers Forum, Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, Heartland Symphony Orchestra, American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, Voices of Change, and Texas A&M, among others. As a conductor, Mason has studied with Marin Alsop, James Ross, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, and Will White, and has guest conducted Orchestra Seattle and the MusicaNova Orchestra.
The concert will be 10:45 a.m. Friday, March 4 and at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 5.
March 5 concert will be webcast for free at dso.org and on Facebook as part of DSO’s Live from Orchestra Hall series; March 4 concert broadcast and streamed live on 90.9 WRCJ in Detroit and network of stations across Michigan