NJSO to perform George Walker’s Lyric for Strings on opening weekend
The NJSO will perform George Walker’s Lyric for Strings on its opening-weekend program in memory of the late Pulitzer Prize-winning composer. A longtime Montclair resident and former chairman of the music department at Rutgers University, Walker passed away on August 23 at the age of 96.
The NJSO’s 2018–19 opening performances take place October 5–7 in Newark and New Brunswick. Led by Music Director Xian Zhang, the program features Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and the US premiere of Kate Whitley’s Speak Out.
Zhang says: “Mr. Walker was very connected with the NJSO. Being the first African-American composer to win the Pulitzer Prize, and a longtime Montclair resident, he was an important figure for the arts in the state of New Jersey and far beyond. It is fitting that we will honor his memory on our opening weekend by presenting one of his most enduring works, Lyric for Strings.”
The NJSO commissioned and performed multiple works by Walker, including the world premieres of Pageant and Proclamation for the opening of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark in 1997 and Sinfonia No. 4, “Strands,” through the New Jersey Roots Project in 2012.
NJSO President & CEO Gabriel van Aalst says: “George Walker was a pioneering American composer and pianist. The NJSO was honored to premiere multiple commissions that bore the hallmarks of his unique artistic voice. The 1997 premiere of his Pageant and Proclamation for the opening of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center was a proud moment for the arts in New Jersey. We are saddened at his passing and celebrate his legacy.”
Performances take place on October 5 at 7:30 pm and October 7 at 3 pm at NJPAC in Newark and October 6 at 8 pm at State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick.
- XIAN ZHANG conductor (pictured)
- MARY ELIZABETH WILLIAMS soprano
- ELIZABETH BISHOP mezzo-soprano
- LORENZO DECARO tenor
- REGINALD D. SMITH JR. baritone
- MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITY SINGERS
- MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITY CHORALE
- NEWARK VOICES
- Heather J. Buchanan, conductor
- NEW JERSEY YOUTH CHORUSES Trish Joyce, artistic director
- NEW JERSEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA