Leon Botstein conducts The Orchestra Now (TON) at Bard College. (photo: David DeNee)

Bard’s “Out of the Silence” showcases music of Black composers

Mark Gresham | 03 SEP 2020

Annandale-on-Hudson, NY— Beginning this Saturday, the Bard Music Festival joins forces with The Orchestra Now (TŌN) and the Bard College Conservatory to present “Out of the Silence: A Celebration of Music,” a series of ffree live-streamed concerts for string orchestra, piano and percussion coming to UPSTREAMING, the virtual stage of The Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, on four consecutive Saturdays, September 5, 12, 19 and 26 at 5:30pm ET.


The four-part series pairs works music by ten prominent living and historical Black composers with symphonic classics by Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Dvořák and Bartók. Fatured Black composers from Classical pioneer Joseph Bologne (the Chevalier de Saint-Georges) to contemporary Americans Adolphus Hailstork, Jessie Montgomery and Alvin Singleton.

Alvin Singleton

Alvin Singleton

Singleton, an Atlanta-based composer and former composer-in-residence of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Spelman College, and the Dtroit Symphony Orchestra, is represented on the September 12 program by his composition After Choice, for string orchestra, which utilizes licks from the late avant-garde jazz violinist Leroy Jenkins, in whose memory it wwas written. After Choice “juggles and juxtaposes a recurring pizzicato phrase against arco lines and is punctuated by elements of sudden silences and suspense.” (Publisher’s desctiption.)

Leon Botstein. (📷 Matt Dine)

Leon Botstein. (📷 Matt Dine)

All four programs will be performed without an audience and with appropriate safety measures by Bard College’s unique graduate training orchestra, The Ōrchestra Now, under the leadership of music director Leon Botstein and other members of TŌN’s artistic team.

“The series takes its title from the opening work on this series, by William Grant Still,” says Botstein. “Out of the Silence therefore carries two meanings: the return of music to the public stage after months of silence, and the foregrounding of music too long kept in the shadows, music by Black composers who have never gotten their proper due on the concert stages of the world.”


Complete programming for the series is listed following the video below.

All programs are free, but reservations are requested. Programs are subject to change. ■

William Grant Still: “Afro-American” Symphony

The Orchestra Now (TŌN), conducted by Leon Botstein, performs William Grant Still’s Symphony No. 1, “Afro-American,” at The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College on November 3, 2018.

Click the “expand” button in lower right corner to enlarge (recommended)

Bard Music Festival presents “Out of the Silence: A Celebration of Music”
Streamed live from Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, at UPSTREAMING, the Fisher Center’s virtual stage.

  • PROGRAM ONE · Sat, Sep 5 at 5:30pm
    The Orchestra Now, conducted by Leon Botstein and James Bagwell
    William Grant Still (1895–1978): Out of the Silence, from Seven Traceries (1939)
    William Grant Still (1895–1978): Serenade (1957)
    George Walker (1922–2018): Lyric for Strings (1946)
    Felix Mendelssohn (1809–47): String Symphony No. 8 in D (1822)
  • PROGRAM TWO · Sat, Sep 12 at 5:30pm
    The Orchestra Now, conducted by Leon Botstein, James Bagwell, Andrés Rivas & Zachary Schwartzman
    Jessie Montgomery (b. 1981): Strum (2018)
    Alvin Singleton (b. 1940): After Choice (2009)
    Adolphus Hailstork (b. 1941): Sonata da Chiesa (1990)
    Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904): Serenade for Strings, Op. 22 (1875)
  • PROGRAM THREE · Sat, Sep 19 at 5:30pm
    The Orchestra Now, conducted by Leon Botstein, Andrés Rivas and Zachary Schwartzman
    Roque Cordero (1917–2008): Adagio trágico (1972)
    Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875–1912): Four Novelettes, Op. 52 (1903)
    Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840–93): Serenade for Strings, Op. 48 (1880)
  • PROGRAM FOUR · Sat, Sep 26 at 5:30pm
    The Orchestra Now, conducted by Leon Botstein; Ashley Horne, violin
    Duke Ellington (1899–1974): Solitude (1941; arr. Gould)
    Duke Ellington (1899–1974): Sophisticated Lady (1932; arr. Gould)
    Joseph Bologne, the Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745–99): Violin Concerto in G, Op. 2, No. 1 (1773)
    Béla Bartók: Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta (1936)