New York Choral Society to Present Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts

By Francisco Salazar

The New York Choral Society in partnership with The New School College of Performing Arts is set to present Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts.

The performances, which are set for Nov. 18 and 19 at the Tishman Auditorium at The New School, will be staged for the first time in a concert hall setting in New York City in 35 years due to the magnitude of the production

The evening will combine elements of jazz, classical music, choral music, spiritual, gospel, blues, visual art, and dance, and will be free for all ages.

The performance will feature 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, 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.

In a statement Music Director David Hayes noted, “It has been more than 3 decades since Sacred Concerts was performed in a larger scale concert hall, and now is the time for a reconsideration of the power and relevance of this music. The magnitude of this production is evident, and we are pleased to start our 2022-2023 season in such a profound way that offers audiences across generations and musical interests a lively and inspiring mix of music, dance, and visual art to discover this exceptional music by a well-known figure in America’s cultural history,” he continues. Ellington was driven by bringing people together through music, and we pay homage to his legacy this fall to bring artists, audiences, and our community together in this historic moment of celebration and expression.”