Baltimore Symphony, Soulful Symphony, Morgan State University Choir Unite to Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Tuesday, January 15
State of Maryland's 22nd annual tribute to civil rights leader includes homage to music of Baltimore's Dr. Nathan Carter
Baltimore, Md. (December 18, 2007)-On Tuesday, January 15, 2008, at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, three of Maryland's acclaimed musical ensembles-the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Soulful Symphony and the Morgan State University Choir-come together for the State of Maryland's 22nd Annual Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Hosted by Soulful Symphony founder Darin Atwater, the concert celebrates the life and legacy of the great civil rights leader. Presented in cooperation with Maryland's Commission on African American History and Culture, this year's tribute features arrangements by Dr. Nathan Carter (1936-2004), the renowned Maryland arts leader and long-time music director of the Morgan State University Choir (MSU). See below for biographies and complete program information.
BSO-Peabody Conducting Fellow Joseph Young will conduct the musicians of the BSO and Soulful Symphony on the first half of the program, which includes works by such prominent African-American composers as Adolphus Hailstork, Duke Ellington, William Grant Still and Baltimore's own James Lee, a professor of music at Morgan State University. Current MSU Choir Director Eric Conway conducts his choir, accompanied by the BSO and Soulful Symphony, on the second half of the program, which is dedicated to the music of Dr. Carter.
"This concert is a testament to Dr. King's vision of unity through common ground. As we find common ground in our music and in our cultural heritage, I can think of no better way for our state to honor his memory than this musical celebration" commented program host Darin Atwater. "I am especially moved by this year's program, which is dedicated to the profound contributions of my own mentor, Dr. Nathan Carter." Mr. Atwater studied under Dr. Carter as a student at MSU.
A musical prodigy, Dr. Nathan Carter was raised in Selma, Alabama, and went on to earn his master's degree from the Juilliard School and his doctorate from Baltimore's Peabody Institute. As the music director of Morgan State University's choir, a position he held for 34 years, Dr. Carter raised the ensemble to international prominence, leading the group on multiple tours of Europe and Africa. In 2004, under his guidance, the Morgan State University Choir was named America's Best Choir by Reader's Digest. Dr. Carter also spearheaded collaborations between his choir and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. In January 2004, just months before his passing, Dr. Carter led his choir on a tour of Russia with the Baltimore Symphony and then-BSO Music Director Yuri Temirkanov in concert performances of Porgy and Bess, as well as African-American spirituals.
On the evening of the concert, the Meyerhoff lobby will feature a life-sized wax sculpture of Dr. Carter, along with those of distinguished African-American civil rights leaders. All are on loan from Baltimore's National Great Blacks in Wax Museum.
Founded in 2000 by composer and artistic director Darin Atwater, Soulful Symphony is among the nation's most prominent African-American symphony orchestras. Featuring a culturally diverse ensemble of 75 musicians and vocalists, Soulful Symphony blends rhythm and blues, jazz and gospel music, all within a symphonic framework for orchestra.
As a not-for-profit arts organization, Soulful Symphony is dedicated to the preservation of African-American cultural expression and to the presentation of symphonic music. Soulful Symphony is a repository for the exploration of diverse musical expressions: classical, jazz, gospel and popular forms capturing a universal language that gives all cultures common ground.
In 2004, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra forged an historic joint venture with Soulful Symphony, partnering with the organization to bring their unique brand of music to new and diverse audiences throughout Maryland. Since partnering with the BSO, Soulful Symphony has performed to sell-out houses at both the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore and the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda.
Darin Atwater, host; founder and artistic director of Soulful Symphony
Composer, conductor and pianist Darin Atwater is regarded as one of the leading artists of his generation. His skills in the idioms of classical, jazz and sacred music have earned him a distinguished international reputation. Born in Washington D.C. and raised in Prince George's County, Md., Mr. Atwater made his orchestral debut as both composer and pianist in May 1995 with the National Symphony Orchestra, premiering Maschil for piano and orchestra. Engagements with major orchestras, a European tour and world premieres of his numerous compositions followed. In June of 1998, Mr. Atwater, welcomed by former President and Mrs. Clinton, performed with the Morgan State University Choir in a celebration of gospel on the south lawn of the White House.
February 2000 marked the premiere of Song in a Strange Land, a contemporary exploration of Spirituals that featured Wynton Marsalis, Karen Clark-Sheard, Kim Burrell and the debut of Soulful Symphony. Praise has been unanimous: The New York Times described Mr. Atwater as a composer with a "muscular imagination," and The Baltimore Sun wrote that "Atwater has an uncommon ear for instrumental coloring and the urban beat."
Mr. Atwater is the founder and artistic director of Soulful Symphony. Among his many honors and recognitions, Ebony magazine dubbed him one of the "30 Leaders of the Future," and the Baltimore Business Journal placed him on their exclusive "40 under 40" list. Mr. Atwater is a trustee of Maryland Citizens for the Arts and also serves on the music team at Celebration Church in Columbia, Md.
Morgan State University Choir
The Morgan State University Choir is one of the nation's most prestigious university choral ensembles. While classical, gospel, and contemporary popular music comprise the choir's repertoire, the choir is particularly noted for its emphasis on preserving the heritage of the spiritual, especially in the historic practices of performance. In their May 2004 issue, Reader's Digest named the MSU Choir the "Best College Choir in the U.S.
The Morgan State University Choir has performed for audiences around the world, including Virgin Islands, Canary Islands, Canada, Africa, Asia and Europe. The Choir has appeared at the Kennedy Center, the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall on numerous occasions. One of the Choir's most historic moments came with the opportunity to sing under the baton of Robert Shaw, conducting the Orchestra of St. Lukes and joined by Jessye Norman and others in Carnegie Hall's One-Hundredth Birthday Tribute to Marian Anderson.
The Morgan State University Choir has shared its musical gifts on many grand stages all over the world, making them cultural ambassadors for Morgan State University, the City of Baltimore, the State of Maryland and the United States. Most recently, in August 2007, the choir embarked on a tour of Ghana, performing at the invitation of the country's U.S. Ambassador to help that country celebrate its 50th year of independence.
Dr. Eric Conway, MSU Choir music director
Eric Conway is currently the Director of the Morgan State University Choir as well as Chairperson of the Fine Arts Department. He has served as Associate Conductor and principal accompanist for the Morgan State University Choir for the past twenty years under the leadership of the late Nathan Carter.
Dr. Conway's choral accomplishments include working closely with some of the greatest conductors of the 20th Century including Robert Shaw, Sir Neville Mariner, and Donald Neuen. In June of 2006, Dr. Conway was Chorusmaster for performances of Mahler Symphony No. 2, ending the tenure of Baltimore Symphony's music director, Yuri Temirkanov.
Dr. Conway is also sought after as a collaborative artist. He has worked with several leading artists including Trevor Wye, Hillary Hahn, Daniel Heifetz, William Brown, Janice Chandler, to name a few. He is also an orchestral pianist for the Baltimore Symphony. In 1994 and 1997, he toured with the orchestra to Eastern Asia. Some of his significant accomplishments as pianist include a tour of Eastern Africa, sponsored by the United States Information Agency.
Dr. Carter received his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University where he majored in Piano Performance and minored in Conducting.
Joseph Young, BSO-Peabody Conducting Fellow
A native of Charleston, South Carolina, Joseph Fitzpatrick Young is the first BSO-Peabody Conducting Fellow. He recently completed his third year teaching at D.W. Daniel High School in Central, South Carolina, where he has built an award-winning music program.
Mr. Young graduated from Goose Creek High School outside of Charleston. Upon graduation, he attended Newberry College and continued his education at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, where he studied trumpet with Keith Amstutz, conducting with William Moody, and composition with Samuel Douglas.
In February 2006, he was a participant in the American Symphony Orchestra League's Donald Thulean Conducting Workshop in Los Angeles, where his mentors were Michael Morgan and Daniel Lewis. In the summer of 2006, he participated in the Cabrillo Music Festival Conductor Workshop where he first met Marin Alsop.
Mr. Young is a member of the Music Educators National Conference, the South Carolina Band Director's Association and the Conductor's Guild.
Joseph Young's BSO-Peabody Conducting Fellowship is affiliated with the American Conducting Fellows Program, a national program developed and managed by The League of American Orchestras. The program is supported by funding provided through a generous grant from the Mellon Foundation.
The State of Maryland's 22nd Annual Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.-Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Morgan State University Choir
Darin Atwater, host
Founder and Artistic Director, Soulful Symphony
Joseph Young, conductor
BSO-Peabody Conducting Fellow
Dr. Eric Conway, conductor
Music Director, Morgan State University Choir
Ellington-"Giggling Rapids" from The River
James Lee III-Hiddekel: Third from Life from Beyond Rivers of Vision
William Grant Still-Afro-American Symphony, mvt. IV
James P. Johnson-Victory Stride
Arr. Nathan Carter-"His Light Still Shines"
"If I Can Help Somebody"
"The Lord Be Praised"
"It Is Well"
"Great Is Thy Faithfulness"
Smallwood (arr. Atwater)-"Total Praise"
Media sponsorship provided by Magic 95.9 FM.
Tickets for this concert range from $15 to $55 and are on sale now through the BSO Ticket Office, 410.783.8000 or BSOmusic.org.