Tickets & Events

Redefining American Music
Rhiannon Giddens and Friends Rediscover the Incredible Black Composer

Boston Pops

Symphony Hall - Boston, MA View Map

Rhiannon Giddens curates this dynamic concert to rediscover the great Black composers who have been hiding in plain sight in every genre of symphonic music. From Samuel Coleridge-Taylor whose choral music once rivaled Handel’s Messiah to Billy Strayhorn, the genius behind Duke Ellington who wrote “Take the A-Train” and “Day Dream,” and Eubie Blake, composer of the groundbreaking Broadway musical Shuffle Along. We’ll also remember the ladies with Florence Price, the first black woman to have her symphony performed by a major orchestra, and Hazel Scott, the jazz and piano prodigy who became a Hollywood, Broadway and television star. Rhiannon will be joined by collaborators vocalist Darius DeHass (Broadway’s Shuffle Along) and pianist Lara Downes, whose playing has been described as “luscious, moody and dreamy” by the New York Times.

Featured Performers

Keith Lockhart, conductor
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Having celebrated his twentieth anniversary as Boston Pops Conductor in 2015, Keith Lockhart is the second longest-tenured conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra since its founding in 1885. He took over as conductor in 1995, following John Williams's thirteen-year tenure from 1980 to 1993; Mr. Williams succeeded the legendary Arthur Fiedler, who as at the helm of the orchestra for nearly fifty years. During his tenure, Keith Lockhart has significantly expanded Pops programming, focused on national annual touring, and participated in major media events. He has solidified the orchestra's place in the fabric of the New England community and has led the Boston Pops in countless performance situations. The list of more than 250 guest artists with whom he has collaborated is a virtual "who's who" of performers and pop culture icons.

Keith Lockhart, who occupies the Julian and Eunice Cohen Boston Pops Conductor chair, has conducted more than 1,900 Boston Pops concerts, most of which have taken place during the orchestra's spring and holiday seasons in Boston's historic Symphony Hall. Mr. Lockhart has also led annual Boston Pops appearances at Tanglewood, 43 national tours to more than 150 cities in 38 states, and four international tours to Japan and Korea. He and the Pops have made 79 television shows and participated in such high-profile sporting events as Super Bowl XXXVI, the 2008 NBA finals, the 2013 Boston Red Sox Ring Ceremony, and the Red Sox Opening Day game at Fenway Park in 2009. The annual July 4 Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular draws a live audience of over half a million to the Charles River Esplanade and millions more who view it on television or live webcast. Last year, with Eaton Vance as presenting sponsor and Bloomberg exclusive media partner, the Pops organization presented its first self-produced Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, which was broadcast on Bloomberg Television and all its media outlets. Both companies made initial three-year commitments to the event in 2017.

Mr. Lockhart has led eight albums on the RCA Victor/BMG Classics label, including two-The Celtic Album and The Latin Album-that earned Grammy nominations. Recent releases on Boston Pops Recordings include The Red Sox Album, A Boston Pops Christmas-Live from Symphony Hall, and The Dream Lives On: A Portrait of the Kennedy Brothers, which was a Boston Pops commission premiered in 2010 during the orchestra's 125th season. Released at the beginning of the 2017 Pops season, Lights, Camera…Music! Six Decades of John Williams features Keith Lockhart leading the Boston Pops in a collection of Williams compositions from the 1960s onward, some of which can be considered rarities.

Programming-wise, Keith Lockhart has put an increased focus on musical theater, attracting such leading Broadway artists as Kristen Chenoweth, Idina Menzel, Kelli O'Hara, Bernadette Peters, and Billy Porter to the Pops stage. He has worked closely with hundreds of talented young musicians, including Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center, college students from the Boston Conservatory and Berklee College of Music, and area high school students. He introduced the PopSearch talent competition and the innovative JazzFest and EdgeFest series, featuring prominent jazz and indie artists performing with the Pops. He is dedicated to building and updating the Boston Pops library of music, which contains over five thousand arrangements.

With a renewed commitment to bring the Boston Pops into the Boston community and to important civic events, Keith Lockhart and the Pops have appeared at gubernatorial and mayoral inauguration ceremonies; the annual tree lighting in Boston's Public Garden; sporting events including Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins, and Celtics games; and the memorial service for the Boston Marathon bombing victims. He has led free concerts in such major public spaces as Boston Common and Franklin Park, and each holiday season brings members of the Pops to play for patients at Children's Hospital.

Perhaps the most significant key to Keith Lockhart's success is his ability to connect passionately with audiences through his engaging programs, his commitment to speaking directly from the stage with fascinating insights into the music, and his inherent understanding of the importance of what sets the Pops experience apart from a traditional orchestra concert-an atmosphere of music-making that is both fun and entertaining for music lovers of all ages.

Having just completed an eight-year tenure as principal conductor, Keith Lockhart is now chief guest conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra in London, which he led in the June 2012 Diamond Jubilee Concert for Queen Elizabeth II; he is also artistic director of the Brevard Music Center summer institute and festival in North Carolina. Prior to his BBC appointment, he spent eleven years as music director of the Utah Symphony, which he led at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. He has appeared as a guest conductor with virtually every major symphonic ensemble in North America, as well as many prestigious orchestras in Asia and Europe. Prior to coming to Boston, he was the associate conductor of both the Cincinnati Symphony and Cincinnati Pops orchestras, as well as music director of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra. Born in Poughkeepsie, NY, Keith Lockhart began his musical studies with piano lessons at the age of seven. He holds degrees from Furman University and Carnegie Mellon University, and honorary doctorates from several American universities. Visit keithlockhart.com for further information.

Keith Lockhart, conductor Rhiannon Giddens
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Singer-songwriter Rhiannon Giddens is the co-founder of the GRAMMY award-winning string band Carolina Chocolate Drops, in which she also plays banjo and fiddle. She began gaining recognition as a solo artist when she stole the show at the T Bone Burnett-produced Another Day, Another Time concert at New York City's Town Hall in 2013. Her critically acclaimed solo debut, the Grammy nominated album, Tomorrow Is My Turn, masterfully blends American musical genres like gospel, jazz, blues, and country while showcasing Giddens' extraordinary emotional range and dazzling vocal prowess. Giddens' follow-up album Freedom Highway was released in February, 2017. It includes 9 original songs along and two civil rights-era songs, "Birmingham Sunday" and Staple Singers' well-known "Freedom Highway," from which the album takes its name.

Giddens has  performed on many televised programs including The Late Show, Austin City Limits, Later…with Jools Holland, The Tonight Show and both CBS Saturday and Sunday Morning. She performed for President Obama and the First Lady on a White House Tribute to Gospel, along with Aretha Franklin and Emmylou Harris. She also starred in the television drama Nashville. You can hear her duet with country star Eric Church on his powerful anti-racism hit "Kill a Word."   

Giddens received the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Singer of the Year and won the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Bluegrass and Banjo in 2016 and in 2017 won the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" award.

Rhiannon Giddens
Darius de Haas
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Darius de Haas enjoys a multifaceted career as a singer, recording artist and actor. BROADWAY: Kiss of the Spider Woman, Rent, Carousel, Marie Christine, The Gershwins’ Fascinating Rhythm, and Shuffle Along. Other credits include Children of Eden (Papermill Playhouse), his Obie Award winning performance in Running Man (Music-Theater Group), Once On This Island (1st National Tour), The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin (Playwrights Horizons), Jesus Christ Superstar- Gospel (Alliance Theater) and As You Like It (Delacorte/ Public Theater). Recent TV: Dietland, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. CONCERTS and RECORDINGS: Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center American Songbook, Disney Concert Hall, The Kennedy Center and numerous symphonies. His recordings include Quiet Please (Bridge Records), Day Dream: Variations on Strayhorn (PS Classics), and Ice On The Hudson (released Oct 2018) as well as many Original Cast Recordings. Darius is honored to serve on the International Board of Directors for Covenant House serving homeless youth throughout the US and South America. Please visit www.dariusdehaas.com 

Darius de Haas Lara Downes
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Lara Downes is among the foremost American pianists of her generation, an iconoclast dedicated to expanding the resonance and relevance of live music for diverse audiences.A trailblazer on and off-stage, she follows a musical roadmap that seeks inspiration from the legacies of history, family, and collective memory. 

Downes’ playing has been called “ravishing” by Fanfare Magazine, "luscious, moody and dreamy” by The New York Times, and "addicting" by The Huffington Post. As a chart-topping recording artist, a powerfully charismatic performer, a curator and taste-maker, Downes is recognized as a cultural visionary on the national arts scene.

Lara's forays into the broad landscape of American music have created a series of acclaimed recordings, including America Again, selected by NPR as one of "10 Albums that Saved 2016", and hailed as "a balm for a country riven by disunion" by the Boston Globe. Her recent Sony Classical debut release For Lenny debuted in the Billboard Top 20 and was awarded the 2017 Classical Recording Foundation Award.

Her newest album, Holes in the Sky, a genre-fluid collection of music written and performed by today's leading female artists in celebration of the contributions of phenomenal women to the past, present, and future of American music, comes out in March 2019 on the Sony Masterworks label,

Downes enjoys creative collaborations with a range of leading artists, including folk icon Judy Collins, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, baritone Thomas Hampson, former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove, and multi-instrumentalist/composer/singer Rhiannon Giddens. Her close partnerships with prominent composers span genres and generations, with premieres and commissions coming from Jennifer Higdon, John Corigliano, Stephen Schwartz, Paola Prestini, Sarah Kirkland Snider, and many others. Downes’ fierce commitment to arts advocacy, mentorship and education sees her working in support of non-profit organizations including the Time In Children’s Arts Initiative, PLAN International, the Sphinx Organization, Women’s Empowerment, Washington Performing Arts, and NPR’s From The Top, where she will appear as a featured guest host in Spring 2019. 

Ms. Downes is represented worldwide by Cadenza Artists and is a member of the Yamaha Artist Roster.

 

Lara Downes