Chris Hintz photo

Musicians of the New York Philharmonic, led by the NAACP’s James Weldon Johnson and Distinguished Achievement Awards winner Dr. Leslie Dunner, will perform music by Black composers on March 3 at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall in New York City. 

This event is in celebration of the new New York Philharmonic Interlochen scholarships in partnership with NYC Arts. The 2023 inaugural Interlochen class of 30 young musicians will perform a piece entitled “MUKTI: A Movement of Liberation.”According to a press release, “[T]he program opens with the school’s world premiere performance of a collaboratively created piece combining original music, song, poetry, spoken word, dance, and film to celebrate international liberation movements throughout history.”

According to directors of the Interlochen Arts Academy, “With the task of creating a program that assessed liberation on a global scale, spanning centuries and cultures, we delved into movements through music, theatre, dance, visual art, creative writing, and film and wove a web of intricately created moments. Students generated work that responded to the growing world around them as they understood it [while] keeping in mind the history that came before them and the truths that may not be theirs, but are nonetheless deeply felt and valid.” 

This program, and its scholarships, support the advancement of young orchestral musicians from underrepresented communities in and around New York City. It is a foundational resource that will create a trajectory for the growth and diversity of orchestral seats in national and international classical music.

“Led by Interlochen’s Dr. Leslie B. Dunner, [the young musicians] will interpret works by four living Black composers,” according to the release: ‘Unburied, Unmourned, Unmarked: Requiem for Rice,’ in which John Wineglass explores the history of enslaved people in America, will receive its New York premiere, as will ‘Equality,’ a work set to Maya Angelou’s poetry by Interlochen alumnus Jonathan Bailey Holland. The program’s second half is completed by Mary D. Watkins’s ‘Soul of Remembrance,’ a movement from her orchestral suite ‘Five Movements in Color’, and Valerie Coleman’s ‘Umoja,’ named for the Swahili word for “unity,” which denotes the first day of Kwanzaa.”

Interlochen directors said, “We will explore liberation of all kinds from a global perspective that represents our diverse student body. The performance culminates in the possibility of hope and new considerations—an ending aptly created by the next generation of creative changemakers.”

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