The Wartburg Community Symphony will showcase the world premiere of “A Hope for a New Morning,” written by Waterloo’s own Denzel Washington during its Feb. 19 concert.  

The concert, titled “Music Speaks,” will begin at 2 p.m. in Neumann Auditorium. In celebration of Black History Month, the concert will feature Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s “Variations on and African Air” and Florence Price’s “Piano Concerto in One Movement” performed by pianist Claire Longendyke. Longendyke will offer a master class on Friday, Feb. 18, at 1 p.m., in Orchestra Hall in the Bachman Fine Arts Center. The class is free and open to the public.   

Beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday, both Washington and Longendyke will be available for a pre-concert talk that is included with the price of a ticket. Concert tickets are $17 for adults and free for youth ages 18 and under and Wartburg College students. 

Washington’s inspiration for “Hope” was Psalm 30:5b: “Weeping may tarry for a night, but joy comes with the morning.”  

“Over the past couple of years, our society has been hit with multiple events that seem to shake its foundations. Families that were close are now separated, friends became enemies, and there is a rampant rise in mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, stemming from isolation and loneliness,” Washington said. “It is permeating all aspects of society. It is my prayer that those who are feeling the weight of these challenging times would find hope and peace in the One who is responsible for turning the darkest nights into the brightest morning in some small way through listening to this composition.”  

The composer was able to join the symphony on several occasions prior to the concert to help them better understand his piece.  

“Denzel’s compositional style pairs very well with our repertoire for this concert. The whole experience has been an incredible opportunity for the symphony. We are immensely grateful to the Guernsey Foundation Grant for supporting this commission and the rental expenses for this concert. Funding for these opportunities can often be a barrier, especially in support of new music and performing works that are not within public domain,” said Rebecca Nederhiser, Wartburg Community Symphony conductor. “I hope audiences walk away with a renewed appreciation for living artists and works that are less known, but no less amazing, within our orchestral repertoire.”  

Longendyke has made highlighting the music of “excluded composers” a pillar of her artistic mission.  

“As a female artist, I see and feel the imbalance of race, gender and other elements of identity diversity within classical music,” said Longendyke. “Florence Price is an incredible model of integrity within our field, and I value and respect the role she has played for women and creators of color immensely. She used classical forms and techniques that white, European, male composers mastered but put her own mark on them in a musical language that was infused with the African-American spiritual, American idioms and other compositional elements that were uniquely hers.” 

For more information and to purchase tickets online, visit the WCS website at www.wartburg.edu/symphony. 


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