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Inside the Music

The Listening Project: A Living Archive

Kensho Watanabe holds a baton while standing in front of performing Minnesota Orchestra string players
Kensho Watanabe conducts the Minnesota Orchestra during the October 2022 Listening Project concert. | Photo by Greg Helgeson

As part of a larger commitment to disrupt our organization’s role in systemic racism, the Minnesota Orchestra has developed the Listening Project. The initiative has the dual intention of expanding the ensemble’s knowledge of great orchestral works by historically underrepresented composers, while performing and recording these scores so that they may become more familiar to audiences and other orchestras alike. Learn more about how the project came to be.

Produced in collaboration with YourClassical MPR, the recordings from these performances are shared with the African Diaspora Music Project—a comprehensive repository for resources on classical works by composers of African descent. These recordings can be heard on YouTube, and are also archived below for you to enjoy and, if you feel compelled, to share far and wide.


On October 7, 2022, a public concert conducted by Kensho Watanabe and hosted by performer and scholar Dr. Louise Toppin featured the music of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Eleanor Alberga, Hale Smith, Adolphus Hailstork, Margaret Bonds and Florence Price; bass-baritone soloist Christopher Humbert Jr. performed AlbergaThe Soul’s Expression and Bonds’ Spirituals.

Full program notes from the concert can be found here.

Video: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor – Idyll

9 minutes

Video: Eleanor Alberga – The Soul’s Expression

17 minutes

Video: Hale Smith – Contours

9 minutes

Video: Adolphus Hailstork – Lachrymosa: 1919

12 minutes

Video: Margaret Bonds – Spirituals

13 minutes

Video: Florence Price – Colonial Dance

4 minutes


Conducted by Scott Yoo, the inaugural Listening Project program included the works of Eleanor Alberga, Margaret Bonds, James Lee III, Ulysses Kay and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson. The week-long recording session did not include a public performance.

Video: Eleanor Alberga – Tower

11 minutes

Video: Margaret Bonds – Montgomery Variations (1964)

26 minutes

Video: Ulysses Kay – Concerto for Orchestra

19 minutes

Video: James Lee III – Beyond Rivers of Vision

16 minutes

Video: Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson – Worship: A Concert Overture for Orchestra

6 minutes