Saturday, January 30, 2010

REVIEW: The DSO Classical Roots Concert with Regina Carter

The DSO "Classical Roots" Concert with Regina Carter - Refreshing and Beautiful!

As a lifelong Detroiter, I have prided myself on knowing about most Detroit traditions. But until this month, even I did not know about one tradition that dates back 30 years - The Detroit Symphony Orchestra's "Classical Roots" concert series.

The "Classical Roots" concert series started back in 1978 and showcases the DSO with featured African American composers and musicians. Last night, courtesy of the DSO, I and my friend Linda attended the season's first concert in this wonderful series.

Friday night was the "Classical Roots" Student and Family Night concert so the audience was full of children and teenagers who were music students. When we arrived, the kids were leaving a ConcerTalk sponsored by Ford Motor Company where the students heard from DSO conductor Leonard Slatkin and the featured performer for the night, Detroit native and violin great Regina Carter - I wish I had arrived earlier to be part of that talk.

Since 1978, every Classical Roots concert has opened with the DSO playing "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" - also known at the Black National Anthem. For this song the DSO was accompanied by the wonderful voices of Detroit's own Brazeal Dennard Chorale.

Next, the DSO played "Lumina" by celebrated African American composer Olly Wilson. Leonard Statkin forewarned us that this number was very different - in that the composer wanted us to "hear" sights and colors as opposed to melody. And he was right, it was very different and reminded me of music that was part of Alfred Hitchcock movies.

The Brazeal Dennard Chorale returned to the stage to perform beautiful "a cappella" negro spirituals which included "Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho", "Lord Fix Me" and "I Opened My Mouth to the Lord". The Chorale was just wonderful! This was my first time hearing this group, but my friend Linda was very familiar with them since the founder of the Brazeal Dennard Chorale is a member of her church.

The evening concluded with a violin concerto performed by Regina Carter. I think most of the audience came to the concert just to hear her play. As a native of Detroit and a graduate of Cass Technical High, Regina has a very large and proud fan base in the city of Detroit. I used to go see her perform at Hart Plaza when she played Jazz violin with the all female jazz quintet "Straight Ahead". And she did not disappoint at this concert when she played as part of the World Premiere of a violin concerto composed by Billy Childs.

The entire evening was refreshing and beautiful. Everyone left the DSO humming a tune and still enjoying the music of the night.

The "Classical Roots" Concert with Regina Carter will perform again tonight at 8:30pm at the DSO. And the next edition in the "Classical Roots" series will take place on March 6, 2010 at 8pm with former DSO conductor Thomas Wilkins and the return of the Brazeal Dennard Chorale. Be sure not to miss it...


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