The premiere performances will be conducted by Thomas Wilkins with the Morgan State University Choir, directed by Eric Conway. Both shows are slated to begin at 8 PM.
Iconic and Grammy Award-nominated a cappella ensemble SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK will premiere their first ever orchestral collaboration, “Symphony 10: Affirmations for a New World,” with music composed by William C. Banfield and lyrics written by the ensemble members: Ysaye M. Barnwell, Carol Maillard, Nitanju Bolade Casel, Aisha Kahlil, and Louise Robinson, with the National Symphony Orchestra at the prestigious Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, on April 13-14, 2012. The premiere performances will be conducted by Thomas Wilkins with the Morgan State University Choir, directed by Eric Conway. Both shows are slated to begin at 8 PM.
“Symphony 10: Affirmations for a New World,” was co-commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra (Christoph Eschenbach, Music Director), and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC; the Minnesota Orchestra, (Osmo Vänskä, Music Director); and the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Millennium Park, Chicago. The Minnesota Orchestra will present the work at the Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis on April 21, 2012. It will be conducted by Mark Russell Smith with the Vocal Essence Choir, directed by Philip Brunelle. The Harris Theater for Music and Dance will present the work with the Sphinx Orchestra in Chicago, on October 3, 2012. It will be conducted by Bill Banfield with The Children’s Choir of Chicago, directed by Josephine Lee.
SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK and Banfield began collaborating on “Symphony 10: Affirmations for a New World,” five years ago. The final thirty minute work comprises five movements including: “A Higher Note” by Aisha Kahlil, ”Dreams,” by Carol Maillard, “The Day the World Awoke,” by Nitanju Bolade Casel, “Discourse of Change,” by Ysaye M. Barnwell and “Yes,” by Louise Robinson.
“Symphony 10: Affirmations for a New World,” is a labor of love and one of the most challenging and adventurous projects we've undertaken as a group," stated Ysaye Barnwell. "It has been a dream to one day blend our unique sound, artistry, and lyrics with a symphony orchestra, and we're very fortunate to have fulfilled it by partnering with such a gifted and talented composer as Bill Banfield,” she added. “We thank the National Symphony Orchestra, The Minnesota Orchestra, and the Harris Theater for Music and Dance for co-commissioning, “Symphony 10: Affirmations for a New World,” and we are delighted to be performing it with each of them.”
Banfield cited some of the musical inspiration and concept for the score by offering, "Symphony 10: Affirmations for a New World," affirms every human power we have: love, imagination, fear and courage, will to change, dreaming, to ask the question and to touch someone else's soul. It is stepping out as the text asks for ‘a higher note,’ to redefine the traditions in our art that need new fueling.”
While “Symphony 10: Affirmations for a New World,” represents SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK’S first foray as an ensemble writing lyrics for an orchestral score, they have previously collaborated as composers and performers with dance companies (Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Washington Ballet, Dayton Contemporary Dance and Step Africa), instrumentalists (Wynton Marsalis), as well as noted poets (Sonia Sanchez, Alice Walker, and Maya Angelou).
Bill Banfield is a noted composer, author, recording artist, musical director, performer, and currently serves as a Professor of Africana Studies/Music and Society, and Director of Africana Studies Programs at Berklee College of Music. His works have been commissioned, performed and recorded by orchestras including: the National, Atlanta, Dallas, Akron, Detroit, New York Virtuoso, Grand Rapids, Akron, and many others.
Tickets for both performances can be purchased online by going to http://www.kennedy-center.org/tickets, or by calling the Box Office, (202) 467-4600, toll-free (800) 444-1324, or TTY, (202) 416-8524.
SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK®
Ramon Hervey II