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New World Symphony Honors Juneteenth With Special Peformances

New World Symphony is celebrating the profound contributions of Black musicians, composers, conductors and performers who have paved the way for a more diverse and inclusive future in classical music.

The 2024-25 season marks the fourth year of our “I Dream a World” festival, centering on the transition between the Harlem Renaissance and the Civil Rights Movement. We're excited to welcome conductor Jeri Lynne Johnson to lead a concert of music by William Grant Still, Julia Perry and William L. Dawson.

Composer Julia Perry was born in Lexington, Kentucky in 1924. She studied voice, piano and composition at the Westminster Choir College, and conducting at The Julliard School. She later received Guggenheim fellowships to study in Florence and Paris. After spending nearly a decade in Europe, she returned to the United States in 1959 to become part of the music faculty at Florida A&M College (now University) and later took a teaching position at Atlanta University.

As an African American woman, Perry pushed the boundaries of race and gender during an era that saw few composers of her background gain recognition. By the late 1960s her works had received wide acclaim and were performed by the New York Philharmonic and other major orchestras. Her career was severely hampered in 1971 when she had the first of several strokes, which left her paralyzed on the right side. She taught herself to write with her left hand and continued to compose. She died in 1979 at age 55 in Akron, Ohio.

Julia Perry composed her Stabat Mater in 1951 and dedicated it to her mother. It is widely considered the piece that launched her career. NWS will perform Stabat Mater on February 8 and 9 at New World Center as part of the Saturday One and Sunday One subscription series.

Top 15 moments of 2023-24

At number 12, we celebrate Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians, an NWS BLUE Project conceived by Conducting Fellow Molly Turner. Reich’s masterpiece is a mesmerizing tapestry of sound, influenced by pop, classical, gamelan and West African drumming. Live visuals by Badie Khaleghian synced perfectly with Reich’s pulsating rhythms, creating an extraordinary auditory and visual journey. 

By ML Staff. Images courtesy of New World Symphony


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