New York Choral Society to Present ‘A Knee on the Neck’

By Francisco Salazar

The New York Choral Society is set to present the highly anticipated New York premiere of Adolphus Hailstork’s “A Knee on the Neck” on June 13, 2023 at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall.

The concert will pair this new work with Ralph Vaughn Williams’ “Dona Nobis Pacem” in a program that seeks to place Hailstork’s groundbreaking work firmly in the canon of major choral/orchestral works.

In a statement, the choral society said, “We are honored to present the New York premiere of Adolphus’ ‘A Knee on the Neck.’ The New York Choral Society has a long history of presenting the works of important American composers that challenge and inspire our audiences and that may also be a catalyst for meaningful discussions beyond the concert hall. This powerful oratorio speaks to the challenges that Black Americans have endured,” he continues. “It is our hope that this historical performance will inspire us all to work towards a more just and peaceful society.”

Hailstork has dedicated his “A Knee on the Neck” oratorio as “a small requiem for Black men and women” that calls attention to the tragic death of George Floyd. It also seeks to showcase the systemic injustice faced by Black Americans.

Hailstork collaborated with poet and historian Herbert Martin and it is a forceful recounting of an unspeakable act of violence that sparked a summer of civil rights protests across America.

The New York Choral Society and Orchestra will be joined by Soprano Gabriella Reyes, Mezzo-Soprano Cierra Byrd, Tenor Bernard Holcomb, and Baritone Kenneth Overton.