Thomas Wilkins conducts Bonds, Davis, and Dawson with Anthony McGill, clarinet
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA
In the second program of a series of concerts exploring complex social issues, conductor Thomas Wilkins leads clarinetist Anthony McGill in Anthony Davis’ concerto You Have the Right to Remain Silent, a musical response to a tense encounter with law enforcement in a case of mistaken identity. Margaret Bonds’ spiritual-based Montgomery Variations is a 1963 tribute to Montgomery, Alabama, and to Martin Luther King. William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony was a huge success upon its premiere at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1934 with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Leopold Stokowski. The symphony’s themes are taken from the melodies of spirituals.
Festival: Voices of Loss, Reckoning, and Hope is supported by the generosity of the Elinor V. Crawford Living Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Richard Saltonstall Charitable Foundation.
Thomas Wilkins, conductor
Anthony McGill, clarinet
BONDS Selection from Montgomery Variations (I. Decision; II. Prayer Meeting; III. March)
Anthony DAVIS You Have the Right to Remain Silent, for clarinet and orchestra
DAWSON Negro Folk Symphony
Mar 9, 2023, 7:30pm EST
Program Notes & Works
Selections from Montgomery Variations
Dr. King’s peaceful but powerful advocacy for racial justice inspired Bonds to write The Montgomery Variations, a series of meditations on the spiritual “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me.”
You Have the Right to Remain Silent, for clarinet and orchestra
You Have the Right to Remain Silent was composer Anthony Davis's reaction to a traffic stop in which he was mistaken for another Black man and experienced the fear, anger, and aftereffects of that encounter.
Negro Folk Symphony
William Levi Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony, a major success upon its 1934 premiere, is largely based on Black spirituals, transformed much in the way—as he said—Tchaikovsky and Dvořák had transformed folk music in their symphonies.
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