- Tonight’s annual Arthur L. Johnson-Honorable Damon Jerome Keith Classical Roots Celebration at Orchestra Hall featured performances by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and the Brazeal Dennard Chorale
Detroit, (March 5, 2022) –Tonight, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) announced that it raised $380,000 in support of its African American music and musician development programs at the annual Arthur L. Johnson-Honorable Damon Jerome Keith Classical Roots Celebration, held this evening, Saturday, March 5, 2022, at 8 p.m. at Orchestra Hall.
Classical Roots recognizes African American composers, musicians, educators, and leaders for lifetime achievement and raises funds for DSO programs that support African American musicians. This year’s event honored DSO board member and community leader Dr. Glenda Price and the late conductor and visionary arts advocate Michael Morgan.
Welcoming tonight’s guests and audience at the start of the concert, Erik Rönmark, DSO President and CEO, said, “We remain committed to the mission of Classical Roots throughout the year—from our African American Orchestra Fellowship and other initiatives supported by this Celebration, to presenting music by African American and Black composers, to performances in the community and vital music education for Detroit students.”
The event also celebrated former DSO Senior Director of Jazz and @ The Max Chris Harrington as the inaugural recipient of the Marlowe Stoudamire Award for Innovation and Community Collaboration, presented in memory of late Detroit community leader and Classical Roots Steering Committee member Marlowe Stoudamire.
In presenting the newly established award, Valencia Stoudamire—Marlowe’s wife and also a Classical Roots Steering Committee member—called Harrington “a bridgebuilder” and “someone who has dedicated his life and his work to bringing people together through thoughtful and intentional multi-disciplinary programming.”
Harrington, now President and CEO of The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, MN, said in accepting the award, “Marlowe was an incredible human being, mentor, and friend who was and continues to be a source of inspiration for me and countless others around the world. I’m incredibly honored to receive this award and grateful to Valencia, the Classical Roots Steering Committee, and the DSO for ensuring that his tremendous legacy and community impact lives on.”
After intermission, DSO Board Chair Mark Davidoff and Director Emeritus Chacona Baugh thanked DSO President Emeritus Anne Parsons, who was unable to attend, on behalf of the DSO and Classical Roots Steering Committee for her leadership of the past sixteen Celebrations.
Tonight’s 44th annual Classical Roots concert featured performances by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, conductor William Eddins, and the Brazeal Dennard Chorale, which has performed at every Classical Roots since its inception. The concert was also webcast to viewers worldwide as part of the DSO’s Live from Orchestra Hall series.
The Celebration is organized each year by a dedicated steering committee composed of Detroit community and business leaders, co-chaired this year by Jasmin DeForrest and Linda Forte. Celebration attendees enjoyed a hybrid experience including a delivered dinner and wine along with options to attend the concert in person or virtually.
Classical Roots was presented by Stanley and Judy Frankel with additional support from JPMorgan Chase, the DTE Foundation, and Joanne Danto and Arnold Weingarden. The 2022 Celebration was additionally supported by AAA Michigan, Ascension Michigan, W. Harold & Chacona W. Baugh, Julie & Peter Cummings, Fred A. & Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, Lauren & Phillip Fisher, MGM Grand Detroit, Mary Ann & Robert Gorlin, Ann & James Nicholson, Nancy Schlichting, Pamela Theisen, and the Rocket Community Fund.
The title sponsor of the DSO’s Classical Series is PVS Chemicals, Inc. The Paradise Jazz Series is made possible with support from Huntington and MGM Grand Detroit. DSO Live is presented by Ford Motor Company Fund and made possible by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Digital programming is produced from the Al Glancy Control Room.
About Classical Roots
The first Classical Roots concert took place in 1978 at Detroit’s historic Bethel AME Church. Co-founded by the DSO’s then-Resident Conductor Paul Freeman, along with other prominent African American leaders including choral director and artistic administrator Brazeal Dennard, Classical Roots soon outgrew Bethel AME and moved to Orchestra Hall in 1981, where it has been a beloved annual tradition ever since. The gala Classical Roots Celebration and lifetime achievement component were added in 2001. The Celebration was named the Arthur L. Johnson – Honorable Damon Jerome Keith Classical Roots Celebration in 2019 following a generous endowment gift from Dr. William F. Pickard who counted Johnson and Keith as his two biggest mentors.
About the DSO
The most accessible orchestra on the planet, the acclaimed Detroit Symphony Orchestra is known for trailblazing performances, collaborations with the world’s foremost musical artists, and a deep connection to its city. As a community-supported orchestra, generous giving by individuals and institutions at all levels drives the continued success and growth of the organization. In January 2020, Italian conductor Jader Bignamini was named the DSO’s next music director to commence with the 2020-2021 season. Celebrated conductor, arranger, and trumpeter Jeff Tyzik is the orchestra’s Principal Pops Conductor, while Oscar-nominated trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard holds the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Jazz Creative Director Chair.
Making its home at historic Orchestra Hall within the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, the DSO offers a performance schedule that features PVS Classical, PNC Pops, Paradise Jazz, and Young People’s Family Concert series. One of the world’s most acoustically perfect concert halls, Orchestra Hall celebrated its centennial in 2019-2020. In addition, the DSO presents the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series in eight metro area venues, as well as a robust schedule of eclectic multi-genre performances in its mid-size venue The Cube, constructed and curated with support from Peter D. & Julie F. Cummings.
A dedication to broadcast innovation began in 1922, when the DSO became the first orchestra in the world to present a live radio broadcast of a concert and continues today with the groundbreaking Live from Orchestra Hall series of free webcasts, which also reaches tens of thousands of children with the Classroom Edition expansion. With growing attendance and unwavering philanthropic support from the people of Detroit, the DSO actively pursues a mission to embrace and inspire individuals, families, and communities through unsurpassed musical experiences.