The London Symphony Orchestra and Associate Artist André J Thomas bring gospel sounds and the music of today’s America to the Barbican, London, in concerts marking Black History Month UK.
Symphonic Gospel 30 October 7pm
Symphonic Gospel 30 October 7pm
The enlivening power of gospel music meets the symphonic sound of the LSO and over 200 singers, including MOBO award-winning UK gospel star Lurine Cato, multi-skilled singer Christian Mark Gibbs, and the charismatic London Community Gospel Choir. All this in a concert conducted and designed by André J Thomas, one of the world’s greatest experts in gospel and choral music, to mark Black History Month UK.
‘The journey of Black history, no matter where you go, is always tied with this expression through the arts – through singing, dancing, painting and cultural sharing, and a remembrance of the journey of people of African descent through to current times’ explains Thomas.
The first half of the concert looks back to music influenced by African and African-American spirituals and experiences. It includes music by Ignatius Sancho, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, and Nathaniel Dett. The second half is all about looking to the future, with contemporary gospel songs that instil the feeling of good news and hope. André explains ‘this is a joyful programme celebrating the strength and talent of people of African descent and the assurance we have gotten from gospel music, which is part of our culture’.
Awaken the Sleeper 6 November 7pm
André has handpicked an all-American programme for his second concert with the LSO this Autumn, with music never-before-heard in the UK from some of the biggest and most vital names in the US right now: Wynton Marsalis, Joel Thompson and Carlos Simon.
‘Carlos Simon’s Portrait of An African Queen is a fascinating journey as we talk about ‘who is the African Queen?’. You will hear depictions as the piece progresses of the African Queen, the enslaved woman, the woman during the Civil Rights Movement. All of them carry a regalness and the strength of a Black family, centred around the Black mother. Carlos’ second piece in the repertoire, Amen!, is jazz infused uplifting work that he describes being about ‘growing up in a Black Pentecostal church in the States’. André says the excitement of Carlos ‘is that he does not steer away from utilising elements of the African-American experience, both melodically, musically and with text as well. He’s a fantastic young, innovative and accessible composer’.
‘Joel Thompson is another remarkable young man, and his works are being performed every place. To Awaken the Sleeper is a fascinating work, which uses the words of James Baldwin, an incredible writer. He was active in the Civil Rights Movement, and spoke up about social justice in the US. These are powerful words, words which will be heard through a narrator.
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