Detroit Symphony Premieres Tribute to Rosa Parks

Classic Arts News   Detroit Symphony Premieres Tribute to Rosa Parks
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra gives the world premiere tonight of Dear Mrs. Parks, an oratorio paying tribute to civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks by DSO composer in residence Hannibal Lokumbe.

Tonight's performance, conducted by resident conductor Thomas Wilkins, features soprano Yana Eminova, mezzo-soprano Jevetta Steele, and baritone Kevin Deas, as well as the Brazeal Dennard Chorale and an Inter-Community Chorus. The program, which will repeated tomorrow afternoon, also includes John Rosamond Johnson and James Weldon Johnson's "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing," Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's Petite Suite de Concert, and Jonathan Holland's Motor City Dance Mix.

Tonight's concert is preceded by ithe DSO's annual Classical Roots gala, which raises funds for the orchestra's African American programs.

The soloists in Dear Mrs. Parks portray a composite African American civil rights worker; Viola Liuzzo, a white civil rights activist who was killed by the Klu Klux Klan in 1965; and a young African American man. The work includes fictional letters to Parks, expressing thanks for her part in the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott of 1955.

Lokumbe's 150 other works include the opera African Portraits, which has been recorded by the Chicago Symphony, and the oratorio Evers, based on the life of Medgar Evers, which was premiered by the New Jersey Symphony in 2002.

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