Nu Civilisation Orchestra joins BBC Concert Orchestra/Radio 3 for Ellington’s HARLEM at Southbank Centre

Nu Civilisation Orchestra & BBC Concert OrchestraThe Nu Civilisation Orchestra joins the BBC Concert Orchestra for Hidden Voices – a fantastic concert programme for BBC Radio 3 shining a light on the voices of those fighting for black emancipation in the USA in the early 20th Century, Sunday 24 March at 7.30pmQueen Elizabeth Hall at Southbank CentreLondon Tel: +44 (0)20 7960 4200

The programme will feature the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Keith Lockhart performingWilliam Grant Still’s Symphony No 1 (Afro-American – the first by a black American composer to be played by a major orchestraand Henry Gilbert’s The Dance Place in Congo, while the Nu Civilisation Orchestra conducted by Musical Director, Peter Edwards will perform a medley ofDuke Ellington’s work, featuring music from the Cotton Club era (1927-31): Black and Tan FantasyThe Mooche, and Mood Indigo. Their set will also feature Harlem Airshaft  – where, according to Ellington, “You get the full essence of Harlem in an airshaft. You hear fights, you smell dinner, you hear people making love.” – and one of his most famous works, Caravan.   

The evening will climax with a collaborative performance of Ellington’s Harlem (A Tone Parallel To Harlem) by members of both orchestras conducted by Keith Lockhart.  The concert will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s ‘Afternoon On 3’ at 2.00pm on Wednesday 17 April.

A little earlier, at 6.00pm in the Front Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Tomorrow’s Warriors – represented by alto sax star, Nathaniel Faceyand rising stars Charlie Stacey [piano] and Cherise Adams-Burnett [voice] – provide musical illustrations for a FREE pre-concert talk byCatherine Tackley (Senior Lecturer, Music Department, Open Universityabout the blues and how it has influenced orchestral and ensemble works. 

Says Peter Edwards, “We’re very excited to be performing this arrangement of Duke Ellington’sHarlem Suite with the BBC Concert Orchestra. From the very first note, literally, you feel you’ve landed in a city bursting with creative energy, truly a time of renaissance. The work is typical Ellington: graceful, elegant and of course it’s swinging. It’s a master work that deserves to be better known.”  

Founded by Artistic Director, Gary Crosby OBEthe Nu Civilisation Orchestra is no stranger to the work of Duke Ellington, having launched the orchestra in 2008/09 with a tour of the legendary composer’s rarely performed work, The Queen’s Suite, composed in honour of HM Queen Elizabeth II. 

Hidden Voices is part of the Southbank Centre’s The Rest Is Noise Festival, a yearlong series of events that explores how sex, race, war and politics shaped the most important music of the last century.

(Further reading:  read about some of the intrigue surrounding Harlem)

All well worth checking out!

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