Henry Panion III, PhD
University Professor of Music
Department of Music
The University of Alabama at Birmingham
Shannon Thomason, UAB Media Relations
March 1, 2016
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra will perform “Here We Are,” a composition by University of Alabama at Birmingham University Professor Henry Panion III, in a concert honoring renowned opera star Jessye Norman and the late Dr. Silas Norman Jr.
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Classical Roots Celebration is in its 37th year and was founded to celebrate and increase the awareness of contributions to classical music by African-American composers and performers. The concert will take place Saturday, March 5, at Orchestra Hall in Detroit. Also on the program are works by Dvorák, Strauss, Gershwin and Bradford Marsalis.
“Here We Are” was commissioned by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in 1963 and the tragic deaths of four children, often commemorated as the “Four Little Girls.” At its Alabama Symphony Orchestra premiere, on the annual tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., music critic Michael Huebner described Panion’s work as the “most poignant in this concert’s history.”
Panion teaches music orchestration and technology in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Music, where he is director of the UAB Music Technology Program. He is best known for his longtime collaboration as conductor and arranger for music superstar Stevie Wonder. Panion himself has conducted and had his music performed by more than 50 orchestras across the globe, including England’s Royal Philharmonic, Russia’s Bolshoi Theater Orchestra and Japan’s Tokyo Philharmonic, as well as the Atlanta Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the Cincinnati Pops, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Philly Pops and the National Symphony Orchestra.
For 37 years, the Classical Roots concert has celebrated African-American contributions to classical music. In 2000, the black-tie Celebration benefit was founded to honor select African-American composers, musicians and educators for lifetime achievement and raise funds to support the DSO’s African-American music and musician development programs.