Andre Raphel To Conduct The Detroit Symphony Orchestra In 41st Annual Classical Roots Concert

André Raphel conducts the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on March 8 and 9, 2019 in its annual Classical Roots Concert taking place in Orchestra Hall. The Saturday, March 9 performance will be a gala concert and a live webcast. This year's tribute honors George Walker, the esteemed composer, pianist and educator who was the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1996 for Lilacs, and who passed away this past August at age 96. Composer Robert A. Harris will be a special Classical Roots Honoree. It will be the 41st year that the DSO has presented Classical Roots, honoring the achievements of African American composers.

Lift Every Voice and Sing, designated by the NAACP as the Black National Anthem opens the Classical Roots Celebration. The piece, composed in 1900, is by the pianist, songwriter, producer, soldier, singer and actor J. Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954). Following will be two songs performed by the Brazeal Dennard Chorale -- O Praise the Lord by Adolphus Hailstork and Wanting Memories by Esaye Barnwell. Alice McAllister Tillman is the artistic director and leads these songs. Gloria by Robert A. Harris (b.1938) closes the first half. This work will be performed by lyric soprano Jacqueline Echols joined by the combined voices of the Brazeal Dennard Chorale and Wayne State Centennial Choir.

The second half features George Walker's Lyric for Strings concluding with the Symphony No. 1 (Afro American) by William Grant Still (1895-1978). The Symphony No. 1 (Afro American) holds the distinction of being the first symphony by an African American composer to be performed by a leading orchestra. Its premiere took place on October 28, 1931 by the Rochester Philharmonic and Howard Hanson, followed by a performance with the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall and more than 30 orchestras, all in the 1930s. William Grant Still was also the first African American to conduct a major American orchestra, and the first to have an opera performed by a major U.S. opera company.

These concerts mark a return to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for André Raphel, who first appeared with the DSO in 2012. André Raphel states, "Collaborating with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for its annual Classical Roots concerts is a joy. Given the deep commitment by the DSO to celebrate the contributions of African American composers, it will be special to conduct this program focusing on less frequently performed works. From composers such as William Grant Still to George Walker the works span various time periods, outlining a distinctly American musical fabric. Thus providing an important link to history through very inspiring music."

For information and tickets visit the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's website at

About André Raphel

A dynamic and versatile conductor hailed for his profound musical performances, André Raphel is renowned for his technical brilliance. An adventurous programmer, he has also developed a reputation as a skilled communicator. Raphel has led critically acclaimed festivals, world premieres and commissioned works by Richard Danielpour, Jennifer Higdon, Kenneth Fuchs, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Uri Caine and Hannibal Lokumbe.

Named Conductor Laureate of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra starting with the 2018/19 season, André Raphel led the orchestra as Music Director for 15 years. Other key positions have included, Assistant Conductor to Kurt Masur at the New York Philharmonic for two years. He was Assistant Conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra for six years. Raphel served for three years as Assistant Conductor of the Saint Louis Symphony.

Raphel enjoys an active career as guest conductor. He has appeared with most of the major American orchestras including Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. In summer 2018, he returned to conduct The Philadelphia Orchestra. During the 2018/19 season, he returns to the Detroit Symphony to conduct the orchestra's Classical Roots program and to the San Antonio Symphony for performances of Star Wars: A New Hope film in concert. Raphel has led Germany's Bamberg Symphony in two recordings for Bavarian Broadcasting. He made his Los Angeles debut conducting at the gala opening of The Broad museum, and recently made his Buffalo Philharmonic debut.

André Raphel made his European debut with the Neubrandenburger Philharmonie and has also led the Moravska Philharmonie. In the United States he has appeared with the orchestras of Atlanta, Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, Milwaukee, Oregon, Pittsburgh, Saint Louis, Seattle, the National Symphony and Minnesota Orchestra among others. He made his Carnegie Hall debut leading Robert Shaw and the Orchestra of St. Luke's in a concert celebrating the centennial of mezzo-soprano Marian Anderson. Raphel's international engagements have further included appearances with the Auckland Philharmonia, Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Columbia and Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Costa Rica.

A guest conductor at major music festivals, Raphel has led concerts at the Blossom Music Festival and Tanglewood Music Center. He has also appeared at the Grant Park Music Festival, National Orchestral Institute, Brevard Music Festival, and the Campos do Jordao Festival in Brazil.

Raphel has a strong commitment to education and community engagement.

His commitment to education is reflected in his work at leading conservatories and training programs. He has led the Juilliard Orchestra, New World Symphony, Kennedy Center Summer Music Institute and Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra. During his tenure with the Saint Louis Symphony, he served as Music Director of the orchestra's In Unison program, a partnership between the orchestra and local churches.

Born André Raphel Smith in Durham, North Carolina he began formal music lessons at age 11. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Miami, and pursued further study at Yale University where he earned his Master's Degree. While at Yale, he began conducting studies with Otto-Werner Mueller. He continued studies with Mueller at The Curtis Institute of Music earning a Diploma in conducting and at The Juilliard School, where he was awarded the Bruno Walter Memorial Scholarship and received an Advanced Certificate in orchestral conducting.

Raphel is the recipient of numerous honors and awards which attest to his artistry.

In 2012, he was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Miami. The Philadelphia Orchestra issued a special commemorative CD featuring William Grant Still's Symphony No.1 with Maestro Raphel conducting. He received the Distinguished Service Award from Yale University. Raphel is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from West Liberty University. The North Carolina Senate awarded Raphel the "Order of the Long Leaf Pine." The award, presented annually is the state's highest honor for a civilian.

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