Conducted by André Raphel, the June 23 concert includes the music of Adolphus Hailstork, Aaron Copland, James P. Johnson and William Grant Still
The program will be the first in a new annual tradition that the Orchestra presents in honor of Juneteenth, the holiday commemorating the emancipation of the last African Americans still enslaved in Texas in 1865
For the first time in its history the Minnesota Orchestra will present a program in honor of Juneteenth, featuring works primarily by African American composers. The Orchestra will be joined onstage by various special guests, including Justice Alan C. Page, narrating Aaron Copland's Lincoln Portrait; singer Jevetta Steele in original medleys arranged by Tommy Barbarella; and actor, musician and poet Malcolm-Jamal Warner performing an original spoken word piece.
The program will be performed at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis on Friday, June 23, at 8 p.m., with ticket prices ranging from $32 to $67. Choose Your Price tickets are available to all concertgoers for select seating sections ($5 minimum ticket price). Free tickets are available for young listeners under the age of 18 thanks to the Orchestra’s Hall Pass program. For more information, visit minnesotaorchestra.org/hallpass.
The performance will be broadcast live on YourClassical MPR and Twin Cities PBS (TPT-2), and streamed live for free through the Orchestra's website and social media channels. The broadcast will subsequently be released for on-demand viewing with a digital subscription to the Orchestra’s Digital Concert Hall.
In his first appearance with the Minnesota Orchestra since his 1993 debut, guest conductor André Raphel will introduce two works to the Orchestra’s repertoire. The program will open with Adolphus Hailstork’s Three Spirituals. Based on African American spiritual songs, the three-movement orchestral suite was composed by Hailstork in 2005 to celebrate the reopening of the historic Crispus Attucks Theatre in Norfolk, Virginia—a theater designed and constructed in 1919 by African American architects and entrepreneurs. The second piece to be introduced to the Orchestra’s repertoire will be James P. Johnson’s Drums—A Symphonic Poem, which opens with a roaring timpani. While Johnson is best recognized as a pianist and composer of popular music and jazz standards—including The Charleston—he also wrote waltzes, ballets, symphonic pieces and opera.
The program also features Copland’s Lincoln Portrait, written on a commission during World War II meant to honor an “eminent American,” and featuring excerpts from the Abraham Lincoln’s great speeches and writings. Since the piece’s 1942 debut, the narrator role has been filled by notable figures from Tom Hanks to Maya Angelou. In these concerts, Justice Alan C. Page will perform the role, taking the stage alongside the full Orchestra. Justice Page, a former Minnesota Viking and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was the first African American judge to serve on the Minnesota Supreme Court.
The concert will conclude with one of the most celebrated American symphonies ever written: William Grant Still’s Afro-American Symphony. The piece was premiered by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in 1931, marking the first time a symphony written by an African American composer was performed by a major orchestra in the United States—a milestone that was achieved despite the orchestral field’s legacy of systemic racism. The grand work epitomizes the expansive creativity of the Harlem Renaissance, combining orchestral stylings with elements of the blues. Still composed the work during the Great Depression; “In 1930 I rented a room in a quiet building not far from my home in New York and began to work,” he described of what would become his most well-known work.
Jevetta Steele is a member of the Minnesota-based and internationally acclaimed musical family The Steeles, who have performed with the Minnesota Orchestra on numerous occasions; in this program, she will perform two original medleys arranged for this concert by Tommy Barbarella, the pianist best known for his work with Prince. Later in the concert, the Emmy-nominated, Grammy Award-winning actor, musician and poet Malcolm-Jamal Warner will present an original spoken word piece.
In addition to the concert on June 23, the Minnesota Orchestra will perform a Juneteenth: Celebration of Freedom Relaxed Family Concert on Saturday, June 24, at 2 p.m., featuring a shorter one-hour program of works selected from the June 23 concerts, and hosted by G. Phillip Shoultz, III. Ticket prices range from $12 to $29, with free tickets available for young listeners under the age of 18. The Orchestra’s Relaxed Family Concerts are designed for audiences of all ages, including individuals with autism or sensory sensitivities. [Please note: Jevetta Steele and Malcolm-Jamal Warner will not perform on the June 24 concert.]
About André Raphel
Acclaimed for his creative programming and versatility, conductor André Raphel is renowned for his compelling musical performances. He has led critically acclaimed festivals, world premieres and commissioned works composed by Uri Caine, Richard Danielpour, Kenneth Fuchs, Jennifer Higdon, Hannibal Lokumbe and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. He is conductor laureate of the West Virginia’s Wheeling Symphony, an ensemble which he led as its music director for 15 years. He has served as assistant conductor at the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and Saint Louis Symphony.
Raphel has led several major American orchestras including those of Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Milwaukee, New York, Oregon, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Seattle and Washington, D.C. Abroad he has appeared with the Auckland Philharmonia, Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Colombia, the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Costa Rica, the Bamberg Symphony, Neubrandenburger Philharmonie and Moravska Philharmonie. He holds a distinguished alumnus award from the University of Miami, among numerous other awards. More: andreraphel.com.
About Justice Alan C. Page
Justice Alan C. Page was elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1992, becoming the first African American on the court and one of the few associate justices ever to join initially through election, rather than appointment by the governor. He was re-elected in 1998, 2004 and 2010, and served until he reached mandatory retirement age in 2015. First known for his skills in football, Page was a first-round draft choice of the Minnesota Vikings in 1967, playing with the team until 1978. In 1971 he was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player, becoming only the second defensive player in history to be given that honor. He has since been inducted into both the College Football Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Justice Page and his wife Diane founded the Page Education Foundation, which assists Minnesota students of color in their pursuit of post-secondary education. To date, the foundation has awarded over $13 million in grants to more than 4,500 individuals. Justice Page and his daughter, Kamie Page, have written four children’s picture books, most recently Bee Love (Can Be Hard) in 2020. In 2018 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and in 2019 he was chosen as a member of the NFL’s 100th Anniversary All-Time Team. More: page-ed.org.
About Jevetta Steele
Jevetta Steele is most noted for her Academy Award-nominated performance of Calling You from the motion picture Bagdad Café, which is certified Gold in several European countries. She is an original cast member of the Broadway and national/international touring hit The Gospel at Colonus, a featured artist in the operas Dear Mrs. Park and African Portraits, a recipient of four Gold records and an author of two plays—the autobiographical musical Two Queens, One Castle and Point of Review; she served as a contributor for the latter play with Don Cheadle.
Steele has recorded four albums while lending her voice to national artists like Prince, The Sounds of Blackness, Kirk Whalum, Natalie Merchant, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, among many others. She has added the director title to her résumé on the music video The Responz—Don’t Stop and the staged anthology The Sound of Gospel while continuing to perform in theatrical productions around the country. Her voice can also be heard on local and regional radio as well as television commercials. She currently serves as the interim choral director at Park Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis. More: thesteelesmusic.com.
About Malcolm-Jamal Warner
Malcolm-Jamal Warner has worked in television and film for more than 30 years. He first rose to fame for his role on the television series The Cosby Show, which earned him a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. He can currently be seen as cardio-thoracic surgeon AJ Austin on the medical drama The Resident and in the upcoming courtroom anthology series Accused. He has also appeared in various TV series including Sneaky Pete, Major Crimes, American Horror Story: Freak Show and American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson, and in films such as Fools Gold and Drop Zone.
Warner is a seasoned director, having directed episodes of several television series including The Cosby Show and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and his short film This Old Man received critical acclaim. He is also a poet and bass player, and his jazzfunk band Miles Long has performed in several major jazz festivals. He released his fourth album, Hiding in the Plain View, in September 2022; it garnered him his second Grammy nomination for Best Spoken Word Poetry Album. More: malcolmjamalwarner.com.
Minnesota Orchestra Classical Concerts
JUNETEENTH: CELEBRATION OF FREEDOM
Friday, June 23, 2023, 8 p.m. / Orchestra Hall*
André Raphel, conductor
Justice Alan C. Page, narrator
Jevetta Steele, vocals
Malcolm-Jamal Warner, actor, musician and poet
|Drums—A Symphonic Poem
|Symphony No. 1, Afro-American
[Plus: Selections featuring Jevetta Steele and spoken word poetry from Malcolm-Jamal Warner]
Tickets: $32 to $67 [Choose Your Price tickets are available for select seating sections ($5 minimum ticket price). Free tickets available for young listeners under age 18, thanks to the Hall Pass program.]
* The performance will be broadcast live on Twin Cities PBS (TPT-2) and YourClassical MPR, and streamed live for free through the Orchestra's website and social media channels. The broadcast will subsequently be released for on-demand viewing with a digital subscription to the Orchestra’s Digital Concert Hall
TICKET PURCHASING INFORMATION
Tickets and subscription packages can be purchased now at minnesotaorchestra.org or by calling 612-371-5642. 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.
The This Is Minnesota Orchestra digital concert series is made possible in part by a generous lead gift from Kathryn and Charles Cunningham. Digital subscriptions are available for purchase; the $60 annual household subscription can be purchased at minnesotaorchestra.org/digital-concerts.
These concerts are co-sponsored by Eric and Celita Levinson
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.
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