NEW ORLEANS – On Wednesday, Oct. 19, at 7:30 p.m. in the St. Louis Cathedral The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) will co-present “Concert Spirituel: Saint-Domingue and New Orleans”, a free concert that showcases the musical influence of the Caribbean in Louisiana.
The concert will be the 15th edition of Musical Louisiana: America’s Cultural Heritage that resurrects two forgotten sets of music from the 18th-century Caribbean.
“Musical Louisiana: America’s Cultural Heritage draws inspiration from a similar program established by Gen. L. Kemper Williams, THNOC co-founder, during his tenure as president of the New Orleans Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra,” said Alfred E. Lemmon, director of THNOC’s Williams Research Center. “Gen. Williams’s idea was to have a free concert for children in New Orleans to introduce them to classical music. However, he also arranged for the concert to be broadcast to all 64 Louisiana parishes for the benefit of schoolchildren. It was the first such initiative in the United States. The current program is designed to showcase the incredibly diverse contributions of Louisiana to the world music stage.”
For “Concert Spirituel: Saint-Domingue and New Orleans,” a selection of songs will highlight the short, brilliant career of Elisabeth “Minette” Ferrand, the first title-role soloist of color in the history of French opera. The concert will also feature a 1763 Mass setting originally designed to be sung for and by enslaved people. Guest conductor Pedro Memelsdorff spent over a decade researching the Messe en cantiques, which has rarely been performed.
Guest soloists include Hyngun Cho (continuo cello), Markéta Cukrová (mezzo-soprano), Jean-Christophe Dijoux (harpsichord), Claron McFadden (soprano), Belén Vaquero (soprano), Jonathan Woody (bass baritone) and the OperaCréole choir.
“This year’s LPO concert, a complement to THNOC’S exhibition ‘Spanish New Orleans and the Caribbean,’ offers a glimpse of the beauty and melancholy of French-Caribbean spiritual music — sounds performed during a time of extreme social injustice, tension, and pain,” said Memelsdorff.
A preconcert lecture featuring Memelsdorff and Haiti scholar Laurent Dubois will be offered at THNOC’s Williams Research Center at 410 Chartres St in the French Quarter. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the lecture will begin at 5:45 p.m. Registration is not required for the free lecture, but seating is limited.
To reserve tickets for “Concert Spirituel: Saint-Domingue and New Orleans” at the St. Louis Cathedral visit lpomusic.com. The concert will be streamed live over lpomusic.com, WWNO.org, WWNO 89.9 FM, Classical 104.9 FM and KTLN 90.5 FM in the Houma-Thibodaux area.
The concert will be rebroadcast four times on WLAE featuring interviews with the performers. In addition, the resulting program and CD will be distributed to all 64 Louisiana parish library systems, all Louisiana university libraries, music history teachers with a focus on American music and Centers of American Music throughout the US. The program and CD will also be distributed to universities with a special focus on African American history and music.
Generous support for “Concert Spirituel: Saint-Domingue and New Orleans” is provided by the Edgar “Dooky” Jr. and Leah Chase Foundation, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, and the New Orleans Tourism and Culture Fund.