Berks Sinfonietta Celebrates Black History Month with “Why the Caged Bird Sings”

After the success of last year’s collaboration between Berks Sinfonietta and the Lincoln University Choir, the two organizations will once again partner again to host two performances with an even wider diversity of works by black composers to honor and celebrate Black History Month.

The concert’s first half will feature three selections performed by the Lincoln University Choir alone (giving our Reading audience a chance to enjoy their excellent work!). Many of these pieces will be regional premieres.

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Vox Philia will then join the Lincoln University Choir to perform works by Robert Fryson, Brian Tate and Jake Runestad’s incredible setting of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “Why the Caged Bird Sings.” Commissioned by Craig Hella Johnson and the Cincinnati Vocal Arts Ensemble, Runestad’s setting is virtuosic, challenging, and certain to delight.

Together, the organizations will also perform William Grant Still’s “Three Rhythmic Spirituals,” which are hardly ever performed today. The final work in the set, “Hard Times,” will feature a young freshmen soloist from the Lincoln University choir, accompanied by Berks Sinfonietta.

The second half of the program features Fela Sowande’s “African Suite,” George Walker’s “Lyric for Strings,” Grant Still’s “Danzas de Panama,” and Jessie Montgomery’s “Source Code,” all performed by Berks Sinfonietta. Except for Grant Still, whose music we premiered locally last year, none of these composers has been performed in Reading before.

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There are TWO performances: Saturday, February 15, 2020 at 7:30 pm at Immanuel United Church of Christ, 99 S. Waverly Street, Shillington, PA 19607. Doors open at 7:00 pm. General admission for Saturday’s performance is $15, and students and children are $5.

Sunday, February 16, 2020 at 3:00 pm at Oxford Presbyterian Church, 6 Pine St., Oxford, PA 19363. Doors open at 2:30 pm. Tickets for the Oxford, Pennsylvania performance are free to all.

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