University Symphony Orchestra - September 22, 2023
Performances & Events
University Symphony Orchestra
October 8, 2023 | 7:00 pmHill Auditorium
825 N University Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Free - no tickets required
Kenneth Kiesler, conductor
Damian Norfleet, baritone
The University Symphony Orchestra (USO), conducted by music director Kenneth Kiesler, performs a concert with two striking and dramatic works by American composers and one of the most beloved and triumphant symphonies in all of music.
The evening begins with the masterful and brilliant Second Essay by Samuel Barber. Written in 1942, it reflects on its tumultuous times with a storyteller’s sense of narrative and drama, and an atmosphere of resolve, affirmation, and optimism.
The Second Essay is followed by the first Michigan performance of Nkeiru Okoye’s Invitation To A Die-In, a “sung story” written in direct musical response to recent murders of unarmed Black men at the hands of police officers or vigilantes. It is at once a work for baritone and orchestra, a monodrama, and performance art. Guest baritone Damian Norfleet, performs the original text, by David Cote and the composer, which tells the story from several different perspectives–the deceased, their families, the police officers, and citizens on all sides of the issue. The music is a dramatic and stark portrait of African American men being hunted and haunted by events of the past.
This performance will be preceded by a pre-concert conversation (beginning at 6:15 pm) and intermission discussion.
Please note: Percussion section sounds will simulate the sound of gunfire in this performance of An Invitation to a Die-In.
The second half of the concert features the triumphant Symphony No. 1 by Brahms. “Seldom, if ever, has the entire musical world awaited a composer’s first symphony with such tense anticipation” noted Brahms’ friend and critic, Eduard Hanslick. The symphony, which makes its way from tragedy through longing to optimism and joy, more than fulfilled expectations and is one of the pillars of orchestral music.