Cincinnati Symphony Plays John Adams and a Dett Oratorio

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Friday, May 09, 2014

James Conion leads the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Chorus at Carnegie Hall in New York, NY on May 09, 2014. James Conion leads the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Chorus at Carnegie Hall on May 09, 2014. (Melanie Burford for NPR)

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra makes its first Carnegie Hall appearance since 2001 with a program featuring John Adams's iconic Harmonium and Robert Nathaniel Dett’s The Ordering of Moses, an oratorio that weaves the story of Moses leading the Jews to freedom with African-American spirituals. May Festival music director James Conlon conducts.

The Ordering of Moses has a dramatic history. It premiered at the Cincinnati May Festival on May 7, 1937, with a chorus of 350 and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. The work was broadcast live nationwide on NBC radio, in what was likely the first network classical music broadcast of a major work by a black composer, although only about three-quarters of the work was heard. Near the end of the broadcast an announcer interrupted the music and said it was being cut short due to "previous commitments."

However, it has been suggested that the program was abruptly ended due to objections of the work because of Mr. Dett's race. (This audio is expected to be presented during Friday night's concert.)

WQXR's broadcast – uninterrupted – starts at 7:30 pm.


  • Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
  • May Festival Chorus
    James Conlon, Musical Director
  • Latonia Moore, Soprano
  • Ronnita Nicole Miller, Mezzo-Soprano
  • Rodrick Dixon, Tenor
  • Donnie Ray Albert, Baritone

We asked you to share your thoughts during the concert on Twitter using the hashtag #S4M. Below is a collection of your tweets and photos.

Comments [2]

LA Monika from Santa Monica

Thanks to WQXR I was able to listen in LA to today's concert brought by the Cincinnati May Festival at Carnegie Hall conducted by America's greatest Music Director. What a treat it was, especially listening to R. Nathaniel Dett's Moses Oratorio. Maestro Conlon, congratulations and a great Hallelujah to you.

May. 10 2014 12:37 AM

The John Adams piece was awesome. I have never heard it before. Thanks.

May. 09 2014 08:14 PM

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