In 1978, under conductor Paul Freeman, the Brazeal Dennard Chorale and vocalists from Detroit's Black churches joined the DSO on stage for the inaugural Classical Roots concert at Detroit's historic Bethel A.M.E. Church. Immediately popular, the concert quickly became a beloved annual tradition, moving to Orchestra Hall in 1981.

The Classical Roots mission seeks to increase awareness of the significant contributions African American composers and musicians have made to classical music; this mission extends far beyond the concert program, with composer residencies, commissions, recordings, and a fellowship program, and beyond Orchestra Hall, with school visits, chamber recitals, and community events.

Learn more about the legacy, impact, and vision of Classical Roots below, and join us for this year's concert and Arthur L. Johnson – Honorable Damon Jerome Keith Classical Roots Celebration gala, funds raised through which provide increased opportunities for African Americans in classical music.

Claiming Space: 2023 Classical Roots Panel Conversation