Hear The First Ever Symphony By An African American
The figure most associated with the Harlem Renaissance and African-American musical evolution of the 1920s is William Grant Still, a composer whose musical, social and political influence reached further than the New York Borough. Join special guest and principal conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra Thomas Wilkins, master storyteller and narrator Charlotte Blake, American jazz piano virtuoso Aaron Diehl and the Los Angeles Philharmonic for an electrifying performance of Still's Symphony No. 1, alongside pieces by Duke Ellington and George Gershwin, this February.
The first ever symphony written by an African American and first ever performed for a US audience by a professional ensemble, the 'Afro-American' Symphony debuted in 1931 with a performance by the Rochester Philharmonic. Soaked in blues rhythms and progressions, Still's opus integrated black culture into classical forms, structuring its gospel-inflected melodies and harmonies around four poems by early 20th century African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar.