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The New York Choral Society presents Duke Ellington's "Sacred Concerts" on November 18 and 19 at The New School of Performing Arts

The New York Choral Society is presenting Duke Ellington's Sacred Concerts in early November

Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts will return to the stage in NYC for the first time in 35 years on November 18 and 19 at the Tishman Auditorium at The New School College of Performing Arts. The November 19 show presented by the New York Choral Society and its partners will also be live-streamed.

While it is said to be Ellington’s favorite and most meaningful work, it is not performed often due to its magnitude-- the evening will combine elements of jazz, classical music, choral music, spiritual, gospel, blues, visual art, and dance!

David Hayes, Music Director of the New York Choral Society, spoke with host Doug Doyle about the ambitious program.

"I think it's so important to really be thinking about Ellington and some of the other composers of his era, but particularly Ellington, the more I learn about him, the more amazed I am at the kinds of things he was trying to do, how creating he was, and how much he was trying to push compositional boundaries even back in the 30's."

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Doug Doyle/Zoom
David Hayes, musical director of the New York Choral Society chats with WBGO's Doug Doyle about the upcoming "Sacred Concerts"

The New York Choral Society is presenting this multi-platform program in partnership with The New School College of Performing Arts and will welcome acclaimed jazz vocalist Brianna Thomas, baritone and composer Milton Suggs, painter James Little, whose work was on display in the 2022 Whitney Biennial, Broadway performer Daniel J. Watts, most recently seen in Hamilton and Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, the New School Studio Orchestra, and more than 100 voices of The New York Choral Society under the baton of David Hayes and Keller Coker. Bridging together the chorus with jazz vocalists backed by a jazz orchestra and joined by live dance and projections of Little’s abstract works, reflective of the moods, sentiments, tempo and narrative of Ellington’s work, the evening resonates with movements of social justice and understanding, creativity and cultural expression.

The song selections of Sacred Concerts span across works that were written between 1965 and 1973 and were written with a clear mission to create music that appealed to his entire fan base; long-standing jazz aficionados, casual pop music lovers, those who simply enjoyed hearing his colorful stage dialogue, and those he wanted to hear the Ellington band live for the first time. It became a successful endeavor to heal divisions and unify the community, and those sentiments continue to resonate today.

Donations to support this historic project may be made when reserving tickets.

This is just one of the major projects the New York Choral Society has in the works for this season—in the Spring they will present the New York Premiere of A Knee on the Neck, Adolphus Hailstork’s requiem for George Floyd at the newly renovated David Geffen Hall. The organization is at the forefront for reimagining the role and impact of choral music on the greater arts community and is committed to using their voices to present works that are relevant, thought provoking, and reflective of our time.

You can SEE the entire interview with David Hayes here.

Doug Doyle has been News Director at WBGO since 1998 and has taken his department to new heights in coverage and recognition. Doug and his staff have received more than 200 awards from organizations like PRNDI, AP, New York Association of Black Journalists, Garden State Association of Black Journalists and the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists.