Program of spirituals commemorates Underground Railroad
Portion of concert proceeds to benefit the Michigan Street African-American Heritage Corridor
World-renowned soprano and opera star Kathleen Battle will appear with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra at 8 p.m. Friday, March 8, at Kleinhans Music Hall in a special program, "The Underground Railroad: An Evening of Spirituals."
The program commemorates a number of important moments in history: the founding of the Abolitionist movement in 1833, the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, the 100th anniversary of the passing of famed civil rights pioneer Harriet Tubman, and the importance of Western New York to the Underground Railroad.
Battle will perform a full evening of well-known spirituals including "Balm in Gilead," "This Little Light of Mine," "His Eye is on the Sparrow" and "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." Buffalo's own New Beginnings Choral Ensemble, directed by Ella Robinson, will be featured in a number of selections, and the BPO will welcome back guest conductor Michael Morgan, music director of the Oakland East Bay Symphony. This program is made possible with generous support from the Baird Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Kathleen Battle concert committee includes Brenda McDuffie, Urban League; Frank Mesiah, NAACP; Jennifer Parker, Cultures of Giving-Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo; Minister Melody I. Rutherford; Mary Ruth Kaspiak, Buffalo Public Schools; Otis Glover, Bella Vista Group; Jody Covington, principal, Buffalo Academy for Visuals and Performing Arts; the Rev. Darius Pridgen, True Bethel and City of Buffalo Common Council member; Reverend Dr. James A. Lewis, ECMC pastoral care; Kimberly Gladden, Zion Quest Ministries; Robin Parkinson, director of education at the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra; Daniel Hart, executive director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra; and Marcia O'Neil-White, Buffalo Prep.
The committee has selected the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor to benefit from a portion of the ticket sales. The Heritage Corridor is a nationally recognized neighborhood that serves as the focal point for residents and visitors to learn about Buffalo's rich African-American experience, and includes the Michigan Street Baptist Church, The Nash House Museum and the Colored Musicians Club of Buffalo.
Tickets for the concert range from $35-$65 and are on sale now at the BPO box office in person, by calling 716-855-5000 or by visiting www.bpo.org. Group and student discounts are available.
The concert will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of Young Audiences of Western New York with a pre-concert ceremony honoring past leaders. A VIP reception will follow the concert. Special tickets are available through Young Audiences of Western New York. Call 716-881-0917 or visit www.yawny.org for more information.
As part of the celebration leading up to the performance, and to commemorate Black History Month, Rutherford has arranged for a string quartet of BPO musicians to perform at a number of churches in the area. The performances will last 5 to 10 minutes. The performance schedule is as follows:
Saturday, Feb. 3 at 10:15 a.m.
•Antioch Holiness Church
1461 Michigan Ave., Buffalo
Saturday, Feb. 3, at 11:15 a.m.
•Zion Dominion Church of God In Christ
895 N. Forest Road, Amherst
Sunday, Feb. 10, at 9:45 a.m.
•Elim Christian Fellowship
70 Chalmers Ave., Buffalo
Sunday, Feb. 10, at 10:30 a.m.
•St. John Baptist Church
184 Goodell St., Buffalo
Sunday, Feb. 24, at 10:45 a.m.
•Mount Olive Baptist Church
701 E. Delavan St., Buffalo
Sunday, March 3, at 8 a.m.
•True Bethel Baptist Church
907 E. Ferry St., Buffalo