Soulful Symphony Announces 2008-2009 Season at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Music Center at Strathmore
Led by Darin Atwater, season features new programs, spotlights African-American vocal traditions
Baltimore, Md. (August 4, 2008)—In partnership with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Soulful Symphony today announced its 2008-2009 season at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.) and the Music Center at Strathmore (North Bethesda, Md.). With fresh, new programs, the season will spotlight rich and diverse African-American vocal traditions, as well as the talents of the Soulful Symphony Chorus and special guest soloists. Hailed for bringing diversity of musical culture into the concert hall, Soulful Symphony has been met with popular and critical acclaim, with the Washington Post declaring that Soulful Symphony’s music “sets itself apart…[Darin Atwater’s] music is emotional and riveting.” Led by founder and artistic director Darin Atwater, Soulful Symphony is dedicated to the preservation of African-American cultural expression and to the presentation of American vernacular music. See below for complete calendar of events and ticketing information.
The Soulful Symphony season opens on October 24 and 25 with a reprise of last season’s sell-out gospel program Say Amen Somebody, featuring all-new music and arrangements, and headlined by gospel great Donnie McClurkin performing some of his greatest hits, such as “Stand” and “We Fall Down.” Soulful Sings on April 3 and 4, with guest soloists performing a program that encompasses opera, American art songs and traditional hymns. The Soulful Symphony season wraps up with The Sounds of Motown, May 15 and 16, featuring the music of The Supremes, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and more, complete with costuming and choreography.
In addition to its regular subscription season, Soulful Symphony will join forces with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Marin Alsop on January 7 and 8 in celebration of the life, legacy and 80th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The program will include contemporary composer Joseph Schwantner’s stirring work New Morning for the World, which includes texts from Dr. King’s most memorable speeches read by former NAACP president Kweisi Mfume.
“In the past four seasons, Soulful Symphony has touched so many hearts with music that celebrates diverse musical traditions, from jazz to spirituals and beyond,” commented Mr. Atwater. “In the 2008-2009 season, we are breaking new ground with programs that explore the art of song, from opera to Motown. I hope the community will sing right along with us.”
About Soulful Symphony
Founded in 2000 by composer and artistic director Darin Atwater, Soulful Symphony is dedicated to the preservation of African-American cultural expression and to the presentation of American vernacular 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.
About Darin Atwater, founder and director, Soulful Symphony
As a composer, conductor and pianist Mr. 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.
Mr. Atwater made his orchestral debut as both composer and pianist in May 1995 with the National Symphony Orchestra. Engagements with major orchestras, a European tour and world premieres of his numerous compositions followed. As a guest conductor he has appeared with the Baltimore Symphony, the Dallas Symphony and the Columbus Symphony. Mr. Atwater appears regularly with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis as both guest conductor and composer. Most recently he conducted the premiere of Mr. Marsalis' Mass, for the 200th anniversary of Abyssinian Baptist Church. He will return next season to conduct the premiere of Mr. Marsalis' Spaces for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and will also arrange for Nursery Song Swing.
Born in Washington D.C., Mr. Atwater studied under Dr. Nathan Carter at Morgan State University. While he studied composition briefly at the Peabody Institute, he is largely self taught in composition and his works reflect the reach of his imagination, skill and versatility. He has been influenced by diverse musical styles and has fused and sculpted these influences into a truly American sound.
Mr. Atwater served as Composer-in-Residence with the Baltimore Symphony from 2004-2007. This collaboration produced many evening length works that have become staples in Soulful Symphony's repertoire. Among them are, Song in a Strange Land, Evolution of a People, Paint Factory, Southern Folk Sketches and God's Trombones.
Mr. Atwater has a substantial presence in the recording industry. He as arranged and orchestrated for a “who's who” in Gospel music: Donnie McClurkin, Richard Smallwood, Yolanda Adams, Karen Clark-Sheard, Shirley Caesar and Donald Lawrence.
For the 2008-2009 school year, Mr. Atwater will serve as composition mentor for Digital Harbor High School. He has also partnered with Baltimore City Public Schools and will present his Paint Factory Lecture Series in 13 elementary schools.
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 trustee for Maryland Citizens for the Arts and was recently given the 2008 Legends and Pioneers Award by The Afro American Newspapers. Mr. Atwater serves on the music team at Celebration Church in Columbia, Md.
Soulful Symphony 2008-2009 Calendar of Events
Say Amen Somebody with Donnie McClurkin
Friday, October 24, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.— Music Center at Strathmore
Saturday, October 25, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.—Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
Darin Atwater, conductor
Donnie McClurkin, vocalist
Stellar Gospel and Grammy Award-winner Donnie McClurkin joins Soulful Symphony to perform several of his biggest hits. The evening’s program will also feature original gospel arrangements by Darin Atwater.
Special Event/BSO Classical Concert: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 80th Birthday Celebration
Wednesday, January 7, 2009 at 8:00 p.m.—Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall*
Thursday, January 8, 2009 at 8:00 p.m.—Music Center at Strathmore
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Marin Alsop, conductor
Kweisi Mfume, narrator
In a community celebration honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Soulful Symphony and the Baltimore Symphony join forces under Marin Alsop. Special guest and former NAACP president Kweisi Mfume narrates Joseph Schwantner’s stirring Morning for a New World, featuring texts from some of Dr. King’s most memorable speeches.
*The Baltimore performance is part of the State of Maryland’s 23rd Annual Tribute to Dr. King, and is co-sponsored by the Commission on African American History and Culture.
Friday, April 3, 2009 at 8:00 p.m.—Music Center at Strathmore
Saturday, April 4, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. — Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
From opera to art songs and spirituals, Soulful Symphony and special guest soloists present the very best in vocal arts.
The Sounds of Motown
Friday, May 15, 2009 at 8:00 p.m.—Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 8:00 p.m.—Music Center at Strathmore
Soulful Symphony brings down the house with the legendary sounds of Motown. Experience hits from greats like Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, The Temptations and The Supremes. Boasting vocal soloists, costumes and choreography, this blast-from-the-past program is non-stop entertainment from start to finish.
Tickets for Soulful Symphony concerts range from $20 to $55, and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 410.783.8000, 877.BSO.1444 or BSOmusic.org.
In collaboration with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Music Center at Strathmore co-presents Soulful Symphony at the Music Center at Strathmore.
Media sponsorship for Soulful Symphony’s 2008-2009 season is provided by Magic 95.9 FM.