Handel and Haydn Society Presents Nigra Sum Sed Formosa: I am Black But Beautiful

[Boston, MA – March 18, 2019] On Saturday, April 27, 2019, the Handel and Haydn Society will celebrate the breadth and depth of black artistry with powerful music from black composers across three centuries in Nigra Sum Sed Formosa: I Am Black But Beautiful. A collaboration between Castle of our Skins and the Handel and Haydn Society, the performance will take place at 3:00 p.m. at the Roxbury Community College Media Arts Center.

Directed by Reginald L. Mobley, Ashleigh Gordon, and Dr. Jennifer Kane, the performance will feature musicians from the Handel and Haydn Society Orchestra and Chorus, musicians from Castle of our Skins, a literary performance from Marlon Carey, and the Handel and Haydn Society Vocal Arts Program Concert Choir.

L’Merchie Frazier, Director of Education and Interpretation at the Museum of African American History, will offer a pre-concert lecture at 2:00 p.m. Presented as part of ArtWeek, her lecture will contextualize the program’s Latin namesake as it relates to music, arts, and today’s modern time.

The afternoon will feature music from black composers across three centuries, and include both music and guest readings. The program will include Daniel Bernard Roumain’s I Made Up My Mind Not to Move from his “Parks” String Quartet; Jonathan Woody’s world premiere of Nigra Sum Sed Formosa: I am Black But Beautiful – A fantasia on microaggressions; Jessica May’s Bear; Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s The Lee Shore; Florence Price’s Andante Moderato from String Quartet in G Major; Zanaida Robles’ Umoja featuring the H+H Concert Choir; Sam Cooke’s A Change is Gonna Come featuring the H+H Concert Choir; and Andre J. Thomas’ I Dream a World performed by the full ensemble. The program will last one hour and is free and open to the public, although advance reservations are requested. Reservations can be made online at www.handelandhaydn.org.

Nigra Sum Sed Formosa is a celebration, a chance to recognize and honor some of the most talented black composers, many who have used their music to fight against injustice,” said Mobley. “I’m thrilled to work with Ashleigh Gordon and Dr. Jennifer Kane to shine a spotlight on these amazing compositions, performed by the incredible musicians of the Handel and Haydn Society and Castle of our Skins.”

“It is the community of Boston, the people, that creates the core of our city,” said David Snead, President and CEO of the Handel and Haydn Society. “Nigra Sum Sed Formosa is designed to shine a light on the diversity of talent in our city, using art and music to celebrate our differences and bring us together. It will truly be an afternoon to remember.”

The Handel and Haydn Society 2018-19 Season
Tickets for individual performances may be purchased by calling 617.266.3605, visiting handelandhaydn.org or in person at 9 Harcourt Street in Boston (M-F 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.). Student and group discounts are also available.

H+H’s 2018–19 Season Remaining Performances include:

  • Purcell Dido and Aeneas – March 29 + 31 at NEC’s Jordan Hall
  • Mozart Requiem – May 3 + 5 at Symphony Hall

About the Handel and Haydn Society
The Handel and Haydn Society is internationally acclaimed for its performances of Baroque and Classical music. Based in Boston, H+H’s Orchestra and Chorus delight more than 50,000 listeners each year with a nine concert subscription series at Symphony Hall and other leading venues, in addition to a robust program of intimate events in museums, schools, and community centers. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Harry Christophers, the ensemble embraces historically informed performance, bringing classical music to life with the same immediacy it had the day it was written. Through the Karen S. and George D. Levy Education Program, H+H also provides engaging, accessible, and broadly inclusive music education to thousands of children each year. Founded in Boston in 1815, H+H is among the oldest continuously performing classical music ensembles in the United States, and is unique for its longevity, capacity for reinvention, and distinguished history of premieres. For more information, visit handelandhaydn.org.

About Castle of Our Skins
Born out of the desire to foster cultural curiosity, Castle of our Skins is a concert and educational series dedicated to celebrating Black artistry through music. From classrooms to concert halls, Castle of our Skins invites exploration into Black heritage and culture, spotlighting both unsung and celebrated figures of past and present. For more information, visit www.CastleSkins.org.