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Tuesday May 14, 2024

Minnesota Orchestra to Present Second Annual Concert Commemorating Juneteenth

Conducted by Jonathan Taylor Rush, the program features selections from African American composers past and present, and guest appearances from vocalists Jimmie Herrod and Ashley DuBose, and songwriter, spoken word artist and playwright Wordsmith

For the second year, the Minnesota Orchestra will present a concert in celebration and remembrance of Juneteenth, the holiday commemorating the emancipation of the last African Americans still enslaved in Texas in June 1865. Led by Jonathan Taylor Rush—who last appeared at Orchestra Hall in May 2023 to lead the world premiere of Carlos Simon and Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s brea(d)th—the Orchestra will perform a program featuring music from 20th-century and contemporary African American composers, and share the stage with a number of special musical guests.

The program will take place at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis on Friday, June 14, at 8 p.m. Prior to the concert, at 7:15 p.m. in the Target Atrium at Orchestra Hall, the Twin Cities-based community youth choir Known MPLS will offer a performance for concertgoers; additionally, the lobby will host a range of vendors, exhibits and activities.

Ticket prices range from $33 to $68. Free tickets are available to young listeners ages 6 to 18 thanks to the Orchestra’s Hall Pass program; Choose Your Price tickets are available to concertgoers for select seating sections ($5 minimum ticket price). The performance will be broadcast live on stations of YourClassical Minnesota Public Radio, including KSJN 99.5 FM in the Twin Cities.

Rush and the Orchestra will open the program with William Grant Still’s Festive Overture, which the composer wrote in 1944. The upbeat 10-minute work contains, in the words of Still, “a definite American flavor,” with distinct motifs and a blend of brass fanfares and lyrical strings. Another mid-20th-century selection on the program is Margaret Bonds’ Benediction, the final movement from her Montgomery Variations, which she wrote to memorialize the spirit of protest and resilience that fueled the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama.

Also featured are two works from contemporary composers that blend symphonic structures with elements of Black American church tradition. First, Omar Thomas wrote his Of Our New Day Begun in honor of the nine churchgoers who were killed in a racist attack at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015. In Thomas’ own words, “the piece is anchored by James and John Johnson’s time-honored song Lift Every Voice and Sing….and peppered with blues harmonies and melodies.” Carlos Simon’s Amen! will conclude the program; originally composed for symphonic band, Simon revised Amen! for orchestra in 2019, with instrumentation summoning images of dancing, prayerful shouting and soulful singing.

Among the popular musical artists lending their voices to the program are Jimmie Herrod, the former America’s Got Talent finalist who has since appeared widely as a singer and entertainer onstage and onscreen; Wordsmith, the Baltimore-born multihyphenate artist who will perform his own classical fusion piece Made In America, which borrows from such influences as Maurice Ravel, Ludwig van Beethoven, Wu-Tang Clan and Notorious B.I.G.; and Ashley DuBose, the St. Paul native previously named “Best Vocalist (Female)” by City Pages, who will feature in one movement of Made In America.

About Jonathan Taylor Rush

Jonathan Taylor Rush is an accomplished and visionary conductor whose musical journey is a testament to the transformative power of music and its ability to inspire joy and hope in the hearts of others. Rooted in his musical upbringing within the church, Rush’s approach to conducting is imbued with elements of gospel and soul music. He is an ardent advocate for living and underrepresented composers. In 2020 he was named assistant conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; he was later promoted to associate conductor in a tenure that concluded in 2023. While with the Baltimore Symphony, he curated the orchestra’s inaugural Gospel Fest, a groundbreaking event featuring Karen Clark Sheard. He also served as artistic director of the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestras and led the ensemble on its first-ever international tour through Europe. Other ensembles he has conducted include the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta and Nairobi Philharmonic. In 2023 he made his opera debut with the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center. More: jonathanrush.com.

About Jimmie Herrod

Vocalist Jimmie Herrod brings singular power and expressivity to his globe-trotting career as a singer, songwriter, and entertainer on stage and screen. Herrod first came to worldwide prominence as a finalist on America’s Got Talent, earning the rare “Golden Buzzer” recognition from actress Sofia Vergara and returning the following year on the AGT All-Stars series. As a solo artist, Herrod appeared with the National Symphony Orchestra in the globally televised PBS Joni Mitchell Songbook concert, and he has also performed with the symphony orchestras of San Francisco, Houston and Oregon. Traversing many musical styles and genres in many languages, including jazz, pop, funk and his own original songs, he has headlined concerts at major venues in Las Vegas, New Jersey and Portland, and since 2017 has toured with Pink Martini as a featured vocalist. Other projects include the albums Falling in Love and Learning to Love Myself and Elated. His recent appearances include a star turn as Angel in the world premiere symphonic version of the musical Rent at the Kennedy Center. His 2023-24 season includes a return engagement with the Oregon Symphony, debuts with the Bozeman and St. Louis symphony orchestras, and a planned solo tour. More: jimmiebeingjimmie.com.

About Wordsmith

Wordsmith is a songwriter, poet, recording artist, actor, playwright, entrepreneur and philanthropist from Baltimore. He is a Grammy voting member, a finalist for the 2023 Baker Artist Awards, and was selected as one of 25 Black Marylanders to Watch in 2024 by the Baltimore Sun, among other honors. His music is featured on prominent shows such as ESPN’s SportsCenter, Preacher, Russian Doll and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. His career took a new direction in 2018 when he was hired to write new narration for Carnival of the Animals with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO). In 2020 he became an artistic partner with the BSO, and he has since debuted the commissioned pieces Destined Words and Freedom’s Genuine Dawn, reinterpretations of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale and Beethoven’s Ninth, his original classical fusion piece Made In America and the world premiere of Network to Freedom. In 2020 he opened his nonprofit Rise with a Purpose, Inc., and delivered his first TED Talk. Recent and upcoming projects include recording collaborations with composer-pianist Kory Caudill and Grammy-winning pianist-composer Alex Brown; writing and directing the original play The Purple Tape to celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop; and working on the House music EP Free House. More: wordsmithmusic.com.

About Ashley DuBose

Ashley DuBose is a Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter widely known for her run on NBC’s The Voice. Her catalog spans multiple genres from R&B to pop to acoustic soul. With talent and brains to match, DuBose attended St. Paul Public Schools where she cut her teeth with live music performance, and later graduated with a B.A. in mathematics from St. Catherine University a day after releasing her debut album, Somethin’ MoreCity Pages voted her “Best Female Vocalist” and the Star Tribune highlighted her BE YOU album as one of the best of 2015, a body of work that solidified her stamp on the Minneapolis music scene. In addition to being a music creator and performer, DuBose is a mother of three, a real estate developer and a voice-over actress.


Minnesota Orchestra Holiday Concerts


with the Minnesota Orchestra


Friday, June 14, 2024, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall*


Minnesota Orchestra

Jonathan Taylor Rush, conductor

Ashley DuBose, vocals

Jimmie Herrod, vocals

Wordsmith, songwriter, spoken word artist and playwright


Program to include:

STILL Festive Overture
THOMAS Of Our New Day Begun
WORDSMITH/Hart and Posternak Made In America
BONDS Benediction, from Montgomery Variations

Plus: A selection of songs from Jimmie Herrod


Tickets: $33 to $68 [Free tickets available for young listeners ages 6 to 18, thanks to the Hall Pass program. Choose Your Price tickets ($5 minimum ticket price) are available for select seating sections.]

* The performance will be broadcast live on stations of YourClassical Minnesota Public Radio, including KSJN 99.5 FM in the Twin Cities.



Tickets and subscription packages can be purchased at minnesotaorchestra.org or by calling 612-371-5656. For groups of 10 or more, call 612-371-5662.

The Hall Pass program makes free tickets available for young listeners ages 6 to 18 for select Classical and Symphony in 60 concerts, and all kids under 18 for Family concerts. This program is sponsored by Cynthia and Jay Ihlenfeld. For more information, visit minnesotaorchestra.org/hallpass.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

All programs, artists, dates, times and prices subject to change.