Back to all news stories

Chamber Choir's World Premiere

By Rachel Francisco

Students, faculty and the public attended a special free concert by the Chamber Choir of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, conducted by Jerry Blackstone (photo below right), performing a new cantata by composer Bruce Adolphe.   Written for choir, woodwind quintet and percussion, the work was performed on Sunday, November 20 at 7 p.m. in Stamps Auditorium at the Walgreen Drama Center on North Campus.  

Titled “Reach Out, Raise Hope, Change Society (A Social Justice Cantata),” the work was commissioned by U-M alumni and music aficionados Joan Fisch and Allan Fisch for the 90th Anniversary Celebration for U-M’s School of Social Work (SSW), on November 18.  The cantata was created both to commemorate this important anniversary of the SSW and to encourage the community to think more deeply about justice and how it can be obtained and exercised.

The 35-minute cantata is written in 10 movements, each allowing for a different mood, and is derived from 10 multicultural texts (poems, sayings, proverbs).  SSW students and faculty were invited to submit suggestions for inclusion in the text.

“The message of this text lifts this piece to a different level,” said Adolphe.  “The cantata is one of the most important works I’ve done.”

Bruce Adolphe is an American composer, pianist and author.  He has written works for Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Sylvia McNaiar and the Beaux Arts Trio, and is the Resident Lecturer and Director of Family Concerts of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.  Among other positions that he currently holds, Adolphe also creates and performs a weekly “Piano Puzzler” segment on the nationally broadcast classical music radio program Performance Today.

Grammy Award-winning conductor Jerry Blackstone is Director of Choirs and Chair of the Conducting Department at the SMTD where he conducts the Chamber Choir, teaches conducting at the graduate level and administers a choral program of 11 choirs.  His students have received first-place awards and been finalists in both the graduate and undergraduate divisions of the American Choral Directors Association biennial National Choral Conducting Awards competition.


Sunday, November 20 at 7 p.m.

Chamber Choir

Jerry Blackstone, conductor

Stamps Auditorium (Walgreen Drama Center)

FREE (no tickets required)

Rachel Francisco is marketing and communications manager at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance.