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Minnesota Orchestra Highlights Underrepresented Composers

Now in its third year, the orchestra’s annual “Listening Project” concert will be held on November 3, 2023


The Minnesota Orchestra’s “Listening Project” initiative spotlights the music of historically underrepresented composers and collaborates with a broader group of living composers.

The project’s first iteration in 2021 saw the orchestra’s guest conductor Scott Yoo, lead the first-ever professional recordings of five contemporary and historic works. 

Conducted by Kensho Watanabe the next project concert will take place on November 3, 2023, at 8 PM in the Orchestra Hall.

Repertoire will involve selections from 20th-century and contemporary composers, “with an emphasis on works that have not been professionally recorded due to systemic injustices and racial discrimination in the recording industry and the orchestral field more broadly,” as stated in the press release.

The concert will include Julia Perry’s Short Piece for Orchestra, which showcases the ingenuity of the late Kentucky-born composer’s oeuvre; and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson’s Mop/Mop: A Symphonic Sketch, written in honor of Bebop musician Max Roach.

Four works by composers active today will include Errollyn Wallen’s The World’s Weather, highlighting the composer’s ability to shift between moods and sensations; and Brian Raphael NaborsPulse, which contemplates “our deep connection as living beings to everything within, over, under and around us;” 

More featured works are Alvin Singleton’s 56 Blows (Quis Custodiet Custodes?), which forms a musical response to abuses of power; and Carmen Brouard’s Trois monologues d’Émilie, which reimagines the life of poet Emily Dickinson.

Written for orchestra and mezzo-soprano, Trois monologues d’Émilie will also see acclaimed mezzo-soprano Catherine Daniel make her Orchestra Hall debut.


The two-hour performance will be hosted by the renowned soprano, scholar, and professor Dr. Louise Toppin, and will be recorded to aid and encourage future programming of this music by other orchestras. 

Ticket holders will also receive a complimentary digital download of the concert’s pieces. The recordings will also be shared with the African Diaspora Music Project and rebroadcast in February 2024 on YourClassical MPR, which will play these works on-air through its regional radio network in the future. 

Additionally, a pre-concert performance will be held at 7:15 PM at the Target Atrium of Orchestra Hall, where Dr. Merrin Guice Gill will sing a selection of music by African American composers. The director of choral activities and vocal instructor at Bethal University, she has performed with several opera companies and in a variety of venues.

“The opportunity to experience lesser-known pieces and learn about the composers was wonderful,” said a Listening Project audience member. “We were blown away,” stated another. “The mission is important for so many reasons — priceless.”

A short video on the Listening Project can be viewed below.


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