Friday, December 20, 2019

Kalena Bovell & Robert Moody Conduct Memphis Symphony Orchestra in "Black Nativity" Dec. 21 & 22

Kalena Bovell

Memphis Symphony Orchestra Presents Magic of Memphis Holiday Spectacular
In Partnership with the Hattiloo Theatre

Memphis, TN — Memphis Symphony Orchestra will present its Magic of Memphis Holiday Spectacular on Saturday Dec. 21 and Sunday Dec. 22. Presented in partnership with the Hattiloo Theatre, this year’s production “Black Nativity” features Memphis’ best musical and theatrical performers.

Based on the Gospel of Luke, “Black Nativity” retells the Bible’s Nativity story with African American singers, actors and dancers. Adapted from the 1961 “song play” by Langston Hughes, it follows Mary and Joe’s journey to Chicago and the birth of their child through rhythm, rhyme, song and dance. The gospel oratorio combines Christmas carols and African American spirituals in a tradition that transcends time and place.

Founded in 2006, the Hattiloo is the only freestanding Black repertory theatre in five surrounding states.

MSO and the Hattiloo previously partnered in 2017 to present an original performance, "The Strange Fruit," which featured Collage Dance Collective, Le Chorale a cappella choir and other Memphis performers.

MSO’s Music Director Robert Moody said that embracing inclusion is a necessary step to fulfilling MSO’s mission. “‘Black Nativity’ is a cultural experience that brings together history and heritage,” said Moody. “It offers a powerful message of joy, hope and faith that strikes a special chord with our diverse community. Our partnership with Hattiloo is part of our 21st century strategy, which values collaboration over competition.”

Magic of Memphis will be conducted by Moody and Kalena Bovell, who is the only African American and Hispanic conductor in the United States. Bovell is an experienced and esteemed talent who most recently served as the Music Director of the Civic Orchestra of New Haven in Connecticut. In 2016, she assisted former MSO Music Director Mei-Ann Chen for her final Masterworks concert.

MSO’s POPS Series features a wide range of eras and genres in a fun format that invites guests to sing and dance along from their seats.  Magic of Memphis starts at 7:30pm on Saturday, and 2:30pm on Sunday at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts, 255 N Main St. 

About MSO
The Memphis Symphony Orchestra, under Music Director Robert Moody, strives to enrich the lives of our diverse community through exceptional music and dynamic programs. More than 400 musicians, staff and volunteers make up the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Memphis Symphony Chorus and the Memphis Symphony League, operating educational programs, organizing community engagement events and performing concerts. Visit to find information about upcoming performances, ticket purchases, special events and community programs or to learn how to support MSO.

About Hattiloo Theatre
Hattiloo Theatre is a black repertory that has developed a strong regional audience. The Theatre engages over 5,000 people each year through high-quality, free programming and performances staged throughout the city. The evolution of its artistic vision and programming, and the success of its business model has made Hattiloo a sought-after resource nationwide.

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