Astral flutist Julietta Curenton in the Astral-commissioned world premiere of her mother Evelyn Simpson-Curenton's The Voices of Freedom. Image by Eric Botel-Barnard.
Astral artists celebrated its 20th-anniversary season in 2011–12 with Inspired by the Spiritual, a concert of newly commissioned works by three noted African-American composers: Alvin Singleton, David Sanford, and Evelyn Simpson-Curenton. The three works creatively explored spirituals—religious songs developed by enslaved Africans in the United States and their descendants—as touchstones and inspiration for new classical music. Astral Artists presented its resident artists in performance with Philadelphia native and mezzo-soprano mezzo-soprano Marietta Simpson and choral groups the Richard Allen Singers, the Lloyd Mallory Singers, and the Clayton White Singers, alongside traditional spirituals and poetry performed by Dr. Amanda Kemp. Ancillary programs included a composer symposium, a master class with area composition students, and other educational and community outreach activities.
Listen to audio samples from this project:
Archival live recording from Astral Artists' Inspired by the Spiritual, February 13, 2013, Church of the Holy Trinity, Philadelphia. Featured musicians: Kristin Lee, violin; Lionel Cottet, cello; Benito Meza, clarinet; Doug O'Connor, saxophone; Sara Daneshpour, piano. Supported by a 2011 grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
Archival live recording from Astral Artists' Inspired by the Spiritual, February 13, 2013, Church of the Holy Trinity, Philadelphia. Featured artists: Marietta Simpson, mezzo-soprano; and the combined choir of the Ambassadors Chorale & Ensemble, Clayton White Singers, and the Lloyd Mallory Singers. Supported by a 2011 grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.