The Philadelphia Orchestra to honor Marian Anderson with Queen Latifah and more this June - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

This week marks the 85th anniversary of Marian Anderson’s 1939 Lincoln Memorial performance, a pivotal moment in civil rights history. It also marks The Philadelphia Orchestra’s announcement of the Great Stages Gala Concert honoring Marian Anderson on June 8th. The event will be hosted by GRAMMY and Emmy award-winning musician, actor, and producer Queen Latifah.

The memorable night will be one of many firsts. The concert will follow a rededication ceremony that transforms the Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts into the Marian Anderson Hall, home of The Philadelphia Orchestra. The newly named hall will be the first major concert venue in the world to honor Anderson and the Great Stages Gala Concert will be the debut event to take place in the hall.

All of the performances will have a connection to Marian Anderson, including a special orchestration of Florence Price’s arrangement of “My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord,” which was sung by Marian Anderson at her Lincoln Memorial performance on April 9, 1939. The evening will also feature performances by music and artistic director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra with soprano Angel Blue, actress and singer Audra McDonald, and jazz pianist Marcus Roberts.

“I know it will be a moving and meaningful experience to perform for the first time on the stage of Marian Anderson Hall with The Philadelphia Orchestra,” expressed Nézet-Séguin in a press release. “To have exceptional artists like Queen Latifah, Angel Blue, Audra McDonald, and Marcus Roberts—themselves trailblazers in their fields—join us for this momentous occasion will make the evening even more special, as we continue to create a more representative art form. We hope that every person feels welcome in our music and in the concert hall, and that every performance in Marian Anderson Hall serves as a reminder of her legacy and as an inspiration.”

Born in Philadelphia, Marian Anderson was an acclaimed contralto and civil rights activist. She sang with The Philadelphia Orchestra 12 times between 1937 and 1957. After retiring from singing, she returned to the Orchestra to narrate Aaron Copland’s A Lincoln Portrait several times at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, New York, and at the Robin Hood Dell in Philadelphia. She became a figure for the civil rights movement and Black artists’ struggles when she performed before 75,000 people on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on this day in 1939 after being denied the opportunity to sing at the Constitution Hall in Washington, DC, due to her race. The Marian Anderson Hall will be a permanent monument to Anderson’s artistry and legacy.

For more information and tickets, visit the Ensemble Arts Philadelphia website.

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