Friday, November 15, 2019

Harlem Chamber Players: Please Support Our New Indiegogo Campaign

This is our biggest and most ambitious project to date, and we need your help to make it a huge success!

The Harlem Chambers, in partnership with The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, will present R. Nathaniel Dett's monumental oratorio The Ordering of Moses on Thursday, June 4, 2020 at 7:30 PM. This production will coincide with the two-year Harlem-wide celebration of the Harlem Renaissance Centennial (#HarlemRen100).

This historic performance will feature a full orchestra comprising members of The Harlem Chamber Players, a 100-member choir comprising members of Chorale Le Chateau and other Harlem arts organizations and churches led by IMG artist conductor & composer Damien Sneed. The featured soloists will be Met Opera soprano Brandie Sutton, alto Raehann Bryce-Davis, and Met Opera baritone Justin Austin.

  • The Indiegogo platform is a crowdfunding campaign meant to raise funds online through small and large contributions. (If anyone feels uncomfortable with contributing online, please email us or call 212-866-1492.)
  • Visit our Indiegogo Campaign and contribute. No amount is too small. $10 and $25 contributions add up and will help!
  • Please let others know about our campaign as the more people who give the better chance we have of success!
  • You can either select the BACK IT button to donate, or you can select one of the PERKS to get something for your contribution. Some of the PERKS include:
  • 1 general admission ticket to the June performance at a $60 contribution
  • 2 general admission tickets to the June performance at a $120 contribution
  • 1 VIP ticket at a $150 contribution
  • 2 VIP tickets at a $300 contribution
  • For those who want immediate gratification, we have a special Perk. At $100 you will get a signed copy of our concert host, historian and author Eric K. Washington's latest book and 2 tickets to our November 22 Annual Bach Concert! Only 10 of these are available.

Nathaniel Dett (1882 – 1943) spent much of his life in the United States and composed music around the time of the Harlem Renaissance. He was born in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and grew up on the New York side of the falls. He was educated at Oberlin and the Eastman School of Music in Rochester N.Y., where he served for two decades as the choir director at the Hampton Institute, the venerable black college in Virginia. He also taught at Lane College in Tennessee and at Lincoln University in Missouri. 

The large-scale classical work tells the Old Testament story of Moses leading the Israelites out of the bondage of Egypt and the rejoicing of the liberated people. The story is presented in a continuous dramatic free form that embraces a number of styles, with text including blank verse and rhyme, along with textual references that fuse scripture and folklore. 

The piece is rarely performed because of its large scope. The most recent performance of the work in New York City was in 2014 at Carnegie Hall by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the same orchestra that first premiered the work in 1937. The critic Dwight Bicknell said at the time that “it was the most important contribution to music yet made by a member of the Negro Race.” In his review of the concert in the New Yorker (May 19, 2014), Alex Ross stated:

“This neglected landmark of African-American composition had its world première with Cincinnati Symphony and the Cincinnati May Festival Chorus at the May Festival in 1937; NBC radio carried a broadcast, but cut it off about ten minutes before the end, alluding to 'previous commitments.' At Carnegie, the conductor James Conlon suggested, in remarks from the stage, that NBC had received complaints from racist listeners. While that speculation is unconfirmed—African-American composers were not unknown on radio at the time, and NBC had featured Florence Price’s First Smphony four years earlier—Dett has certainly been the victim of an injustice. His oratorio, a setting of texts from Exodus with spirituals interwoven, is a startling, potent piece.”

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