More to Hear: The Listening Project
Fri Oct 7, 2022
The Minnesota Orchestra’s new Listening Project has grown out of an ongoing initiative to spotlight the music of historically underrepresented composers and to collaborate with a broader group of composers living today. This concert, conducted by Kensho Watanabe and hosted by renowned performer, scholar and professor Dr. Louise Toppin, features performances of six works that will be recorded to aid and encourage future programming of this music by other orchestras, including Eleanor Alberga’s The Soul’s Expression and Margaret Bonds’ Spirituals, both of which feature bass-baritone Christopher Humbert Jr. as soloist. Ticketholders will receive a complimentary digital download of each piece from the performance in early November via email. The recordings will also be shared broadly in partnership with the African Diaspora Music Project.
A Few Things to Know
- Last year, musicians kickstarted the Listening Project with a week of rehearsals that realized the first professional recordings of five works by five Black composers. This concerts marks the public debut of the ongoing initiative. Learn more about the process.
- Conductor Kensho Watanabe and bass-baritone Christopher Humbert Jr. will each make their Minnesota Orchestra debut at this performance. Humbert will perfom as soloist in both Eleanor Alberga’s The Soul’s Expression and Margaret Bonds’ Spirituals.
Dr. Louise Toppin is the founder and editor of the African Diaspora Music Project, a research tool dedicated to creating a repository of music, scores and programmatic information to provide access and encourage the exploration and performance of music by composers of the African Diaspora. Learn more about ADMP at africandiasporamusicproject.org, and find previous recordings from the Minnesota Orchestra for this project here.
Date & Time
The Soul’s Expression
Dr. Louise Toppin
Christopher Humbert Jr.
The Grammy Award-winning Minnesota Orchestra, led by Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård—who is serving as music director designate during the 2022-23 season—is recognized for distinguished performances around the world, award-winning recordings and broadcasts, educational engagement programs, and commitment to building the orchestral repertoire of the future. Founded in 1903, the Orchestra has an extensive history of touring throughout Minnesota, nationally and abroad, including high-profile visits in recent years to Cuba, Europe and South Africa. Recording projects undertaken in the past two decades include complete cycles of symphonies by Beethoven, Sibelius and Mahler, all recorded under Osmo Vänskä, who is now the Orchestra’s conductor laureate.
Kensho Watanabe is fast becoming one of the most exciting and versatile young conductors to come out of the United States. Recently recognized as a recipient of a Career Assistance Award by the Solti Foundation U.S., he held the position of assistant conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra from 2016 to 2019, where he made a critically acclaimed subscription debut, taking over from his mentor Yannick Nézet-Séguin. He has since returned there for more subscription programs, including concerts in the 2021-22 season. Other recent highlights include his debuts at the Bravo! Vail Festival and numerous concerts at the Mann and Saratoga performing arts centers, as well as debuts with the London Philharmonic, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, Szczecin Philharmonic, Charlotte Symphony and Sarasota Orchestra. He has led numerous operas with the Curtis Opera Theatre, most recently Puccini’s La Rondine and La Bohéme.
Dr. Louise Toppin has received critical acclaim for her operatic, orchestral, oratorio and recital performances worldwide. Her 19 CDs include Ah love, but a day, featuring music by women composers; La Saison des fleurs; and Songs of Love and Justice, Vol. I, a collection of songs by Adolphus Hailstork. She has edited nine anthologies and a choral work published by Classical Vocal Reprints and Hildegard Press, including Rediscovering Margaret Bonds and An Anthology of African and African Diaspora Songs.
Dr. Toppin is co-founder and director of the George Shirley Vocal Competition and Videmus (promoting African American music), and founder/editor of the African Diaspora Music Project research tool. She is also a professor of music (voice) at the University of Michigan.
Described as beholding a “rich baritone voice,” and a “towering and alluring” stage presence, bass-baritone Christopher Humbert Jr. has proven a favorite with several audiences across the United States. Originally from Akron, Ohio, Humbert has appeared in multiple operatic and theatrical productions throughout his home state, including performances with Opera Columbus, Mid-Ohio Opera and Nightingale Opera Theatre, in which he has been seen in The Consul (Secret Police Agent), The Mikado (Pooh-Bah), A Little Night Music (A Little Night Music), Dido and Aeneas (Aeneas), Kiss Me, Kate (Fred Graham), La Cenerentola (Alidoro). Humbert has since performed with The Seagle Festival, Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre, Annapolis Opera, Detroit Opera and Palm Beach Opera.
Your Concert Experience
Join us for Q&A’s, hosted discussions, pre and post-show drinks with musicians and more. All free with your concert ticket!
Pre-Concert Talk and Performance
When: Fri Oct 7 | 7:15pm
Where: Target Atrium
Join Minnesota Orchestra musicians Sam Bergman and Susie Park for a discussion about the conception and goals of The Listening Project, the orchestra's ongoing initiative to spotlight the music of historically underrepresented composers and to collaborate with a broader group of composers living today.
They will be joined by Merrin Guice Gill (soprano), Marcus Simmons (bass-baritone), and Herb Johnson (piano) who will perform songs by Florence Price, Margaret Bonds and their contemporaries.
- Armless & Bariatric Chairs
- Assistive Listening Devices
- Large-Print Programs
- Noise-Cancelling Headphones
- Service Animals
- Wheelchair & Accessible Seating
Additional services are available upon request.