The Atlanta Music Festival is pleased to announce that our recording, Bound for the Promised Land, featuring performances of Ms. Jessye Norman, produced by Elaine Martone, released with Albany Records, has been entered for consideration in the GRAMMY Awards®. For a brief promo video of the CD go here.
From Artistic Director Dwight Andrews
“The violence in our streets and the assaults on and within our communities again confirm what many of us already know: we have not come as far as we had hoped as one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. The Atlanta Music Festival seeks to offer a way out of no way, a way forward. An African proverb says the spirit will not descend without a song. In the moans of our ancestors, the groans and even the shouts, we hear them translating their experiences of slavery and oppression into song. We hear the power of those songs, which became the blues and the spirituals and our symphonies. Alexis de Tocqueville famously reminds us that America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great. May this majestic thought not be corrupted by the exigencies of the moment but serve as an invitation to be good, to do good and to love the good that is in all of us.”
We were honored that Ms. Norman agreed to be our featured soloist for our 2016 AMF. We believe that her recordings on this CD represent her last public performances.
The first track on the CD is James Weldon and J. Rosamond Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing” sung by 500 school children at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church.
The culminating event of our 2016 AMF was a gala concert held at the Glenn Memorial Auditorium of Emory University. The choirs include the Chancel Choir of First Congregational Church, the Spelman and Morehouse College Glee Clubs and the Meridian Chorale.
Narrations by Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Taylor Branch and theologian Rev. Dr. Robert Franklin Jr. address the African American journey from slavery to the not-yet-achieved American dream of a “more perfect union.”
Among the works performed were two scenes from the opera Frederick Douglass with libretto and music composed by Dorothy Rudd Moore. There was also the premiere of a commissioned arrangement of “Bound for the Promised Land” by Adolphus Hailstork.
Dorothy Rudd Moore, composer
Composer speaking at an interview after hearing the AMF recording of her works: “That was a beautiful concert. Wonderful! They sang so well. They sound great with the orchestra. That was a beautiful concert. So well led and performed! A musician doesn’t need to see the performers to know if they are worthy. You know by what you hear. And I was so pleased with what you did with my music.”
Augustus Hailstork, composer
I am glad to endorse the album BOUND FOR THE PROMISED LAND released by Albany Records. It was a joyous project realized with commitment, sweep, passion and power by all involved.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution commended this Atlanta Music Festival as among the finest classical music events of the season, 12/12/2016.
Review from Black Grooves, 2/3/2020
From start to finish, listeners are treated to unexpected, yet beautiful renditions of staple songs in the African American musical cannon such as “Wade in the Water” and “Ride on King Jesus.” By focusing on classical arrangements of these songs and others, this festival and album challenge the notion of what constitutes Black music. The selections also reveal the depth and breadth of the African American musical canon to contemporary listeners.
The concert concluded with full orchestra accompanying 165 choral singers and 1300 audience members who stood and sang to the tune “Bound for the Promised Land” words paraphrased from a speech of Barack Obama:
“We will be each other’s keeper there
In a land where all are free;
Where equality and justice rule,
We will write our destiny.”