Jazz legend Billy Taylor performs with VocalEssence in February 2009
WITNESS: Celebration of a Dream
Sunday, February 15, 2009 at 4 pm
Concert Conversation at 3 pm
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
345 Washington Street, St. Paul
Tickets: $20, $30, $40 (Service charges may apply. Student and partial
view tickets are half price. Group discounts are available.)To order: 651-224-4222, ww.vocalessence.org
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (November 26, 2008) – VocalEssence will join forces with jazz legend Dr. Billy Taylor to celebrate the 80th Anniversary of one of the greatest leaders of all time, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Sunday, February 15, 2009 at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. The annual WITNESS concert, nationally recognized for its efforts to promote African American choral music to today’s youth, will begin at 4 pm and feature Dr. Taylor and his band, the Billy Taylor Trio, with the VocalEssence Chorus and Ensemble Singers and orchestra under the direction of conductor Philip Brunelle.
The program highlight will be Peaceful Warrior, a three-movement work inspired by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that made a lasting impression on Dr. Taylor in the early sixties while attending a tribute concert with Dr. King.
As Billy describes, "He was speaking to a teenager who asked him about heroes and he told the young man ‘you should be proud to choose your hero, it’s a matter of pride.’ A Matter of Pride became the first movement of the suite. That same day, Dr. King told a woman who wanted to support him to do it, but in her own Connecticut town, ‘If you are really concerned, then you should show it and do it right where you are.’ So I wrote that down too; from those two phrases, the first and third movements of the piece came. I’m not a poet, not a great lyricist, but when I wrote this I was anxious for it to come out the way I felt it because this came from what Dr. King said."
First performed with VocalEssence in 1998, the work is as vital today as it was a decade ago. "It is a rare opportunity for a music organization to focus on the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and do it with someone who knew him personally!" explains VocalEssence Artistic Director Philip Brunelle. "Billy Taylor’s Peaceful Warrior is a work based on words that Billy heard Martin Luther King speak. VocalEssence wants to capture this historic moment with Billy Taylor while we can. Billy is now 86 and still plays marvelously – now is the time to collaborate!"
The first half of the program will feature the VocalEssence Chorus and Ensemble Singers performing music inspired by the life and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., including works by Stephen Michael Newby, Cary John Franklin, Wilson Simonal, Alice Parker, Moses Hogan and Uzee Brown, as well as rock band U2’s "MLK" as arranged by Bob Chilcott.
Each year since 1991, Philip Brunelle and VocalEssence have spotlighted the music of African American composers and performers in the VocalEssence WITNESS concert. Since 2005, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts has partnered with VocalEssence to present WITNESS.
For tickets ($20-$40), the public may call 651-224-4222 or visit www.ordway.org. Student and group discounts available (service charges may apply). For further information on VocalEssence and the WITNESS program, please visit www.vocalessence.org/WITNESS2009.