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Breaking Boundaries

2 major Dallas arts groups join forces for concert to promote racial unity

2 Dallas arts groups join forces for concert to promote racial unity

Dallas Black Dance Theatre presents Spring Celebration
Dallas Black Dance Theatre will perform. Photo by Brian Guilliaux

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Dallas Black Dance Theatre are teaming up for a special performance to honor those who have lost their lives to racial violence and injustice. The Unity Concert, a benefit for nonprofit Project Unity, will remember by name George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Fort Worth's Atatiana Jefferson, and Dallas’ Botham Jean, among others.

The performance will take place at 7:30 pm November 11 at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center; tickets are $50 to attend in person and $25 to stream online.

“The recent events have left us hurting as a community with deep wounds that have been re-opened,” says Pastor Richie Butler, founder of Project Unity, in a release. “It is in these times that we look to each other to make real change that is more than words on a page. Project Unity’s mission is to bring the community together and to listen to everyone. With the Dallas Symphony and Dallas Black Dance Theatre, we will gather to do just that.”

Featured highlight of the night will be the world premiere of the DSO's newly commissioned work “Reflection on a Memorial” by acclaimed 24-year-old Dallas composer Quinn Mason. The orchestra also will perform works by Black composers Adolphus Hailstork, Florence Price, and William Grant Still. Lawrence Loh will conduct, with featured soloists Michelle Bradley, soprano, and Reginald Smith, Jr., baritone. 

Dallas Black Dance Theatre will take the stage for an emotionally moving male trio, Evidence of Souls Not Seen, and an ensemble of DBDT dancers will perform an excerpt from the thoughtful Etudes and Elegy. "Both ballets are a beautiful requiem that express mourning the deaths of those we hold close to our hearts," the release says. The orchestra will accompany both works with music by Elgar, Mahler, and Chopin.

“After the nation witnessed the horrific death of George Floyd beneath the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, numerous corporations and organizations came out with written statements about Black Lives Matter," says DBDT executive director Zenetta S. Drew. "Dallas Black Dance Theatre and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra decided to pool our creative talents to unite the Dallas community in a concert that pays tribute to the senseless loss of Black lives to racial violence and injustice."

Joining the two professional groups will be students from DSO’s Young Strings program, a 28-year-old education initiative designed to increase diversity in America’s orchestras.

The program will include musical and dance performances and remarks from prominent Dallas leaders, including Dallas City Councilperson Tennell Atkins.

Project Unity works to unify Dallas by implementing community-building programs to help heal race relationships between law enforcement and Dallas citizens. The DSO and Project Unity partnered in 2019 for the inspiring "Gospel Goes Classical" concert.

“The events of recent months have been devastating and painful. We have reflected on how we as an organization can respond, and, with the magnitude of the crisis, we have more questions than answers,” says Kim Noltemy, DSO president and CEO. “This concert will use music to unite and heal and to pay tribute to those who lost their lives and deserve to be honored on a national level.”