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Drew Peterson, pianist
Josephine Baker

The Spiritual In White America

Beginning in 1913, Harry Burleigh (a New York protégé of Antonin Dvorák) began to transform black spirituals into songs for the white concert stage. Marian Anderson and Paul Robeson triumphantly sang Burleigh’s “Deep River” – and it’s still sung today.

But during the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston worried about a “flight from blackness.”

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Program
Concert

Thursday, August 22 at 6:30 pm
The Phillips Collection

Kevin Deas, bass-baritone
Joseph Horowitz, piano
Cathedra led by Angel Gil-Ordóñez

What’s the proper role of African-American music in America’s musical life?

Beginning in 1913, Harry Burleigh (a New York protégé of Antonin Dvorák)  transformed plantation songs into songs for the white concert stage. Marian Anderson and Paul Robeson triumphantly sang Burleigh’s “Deep River” – and it’s still sung today.

But during the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes and Nora Zeale Hurston worried about a denaturing “flight from blackness.”

Our program begins by juxtaposing a historic 1909 recording of “Swing Low” with Burleigh’s concert arrangement as sung by Kevin Deas — a supreme exponent of the spiritual in concert.

Spiritual arrangements by Harry Burleigh and Nathaniel Dett

Readings from W. E. B. Du Bois, Harry Burleigh, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston

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What people are saying

So many thanks for that most inspiring, capacious evening. With PCE’s usual ability to surprise and delight… that symphony was astonishing…

Kate

Your leadership and dramatic shaping of the Symphony last night was truly masterful - and so inspiring. I know I’ll never forget this experience. Thank you, Maestro!

Chris

I loved the intimacy of the ensemble and the aching beauty of the melody repeating and recurring and turning up where I did not expect it .  And I found the quality of the sound thrilling.

That was my take on the concert --that and the tears that it brought to my eyes, simply to be there, to be present at the creation of something so beautiful..

Michaele

What a perfect PCE evening, wonderful concert and lovely gathering

Liz

Angel, You are so musical! I've played the 4th twice, it was the first Mahler I heard as a kid, and I'm invariably disappointed that conductors don't let it breathe.  U nailed it.

David

Congratulations again to you and your superb ensemble on a wonderful and provocative performance in the Terrace Theater last evening.  As always, we learned something from this concert and it was fun, too.

Alec

Everything about it was sheer delight, including the lively and interesting talk at the end…

Catherine