‘Montgomery and the Blacknificent 7’ Opens Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 2023-24 MusicNOW Series

By Afton Wooten
(Photo credit: 21C Media Group)

Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) announced its 2023-24 MusicNOW series will open with the “Montgomery and the Blacknificent 7” on Dec. 3.

The program is curated by CSO’s Mead Composer-in-Residence and Musical America’s 2023 Composer of the Year Jessie Montgomery. New and recent work by members of the Black composers’ collective known as the Blacknificent 7 are featured on the program. Soprano Jasmine Barnes, tenor Russell Thomas, and bass-baritone Damien Geter are joined by violinist Jessie Montgomery, and Carlos Simon at the organ. Donald Lee III conducts musicians from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

CSO’s MusicNOW commission “The United States Welcomes You,” makes it world premiere with Barnes and Geter. The program also includes chamber compositions by Joel Thompson, Shawn E. Okpebholo, two works by Dave Ragland addressing human rights violations, and the Chicago premiere of Geter’s “Annunciation” for tenor and chamber ensemble, featuring Thomas, for whom the work was written.

“Montgomery and the Blacknificent 7” takes place at the CSO Symphony Center at 4:30 p.m. with a pre-concert panel starting at 3 p.m.