***This event took place on Feb. 26, 2023.
A new series of concerts and dialogue entitled Music and Justice will debut with a momentous concert on Feb. 26, 2023, at UCLA's iconic Royce Hall.
The first part of the concert program features works by six contemporary composers addressing social justice, including world premieres by Diane White-Clayton and multi-Grammy winner Arturo O'Farrill.
Part two of the program features a rare performance of the landmark 1969 cantata The Gates of Justice by legendary jazz composer and musician Dave Brubeck. A fighter for civil rights, Brubeck—who was neither Jewish nor Black—wrote The Gates of Justice in 1969 an effort to unify Blacks and Jews after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Based on Hebrew liturgical texts, African American spirituals, and Martin Luther King Jr.'s speeches, the work is scored for jazz trio, brass ensemble, chorus, tenor, and baritone, with the tenor role written in the Cantorial style of the Jewish temple, and the baritone in the Spiritual style of the African-American church. It was commissioned by the umbrella organization of America’s Reform Judaism movement specifically to address increasing tensions between the Jewish and African American communities. Brubeck fused elements of African American and Jewish spiritual music, saying that he hoped the juxtaposition of musical styles would “construct a bridge upon which the universal theme of brotherhood could be communicated."
In a historic first, Brubeck's sons Darius, Chris, and Dan perform the jazz trio in their father's work, joined by a choir of Black and Jewish singers from Los Angeles-area churches and synagogues alongside UCLA students and the award-winning chorus Tonality, led by Alexander Lloyd Blake. Soloists are acclaimed baritone Phillip Bullock and Azi Schwartz, famed cantor of New York's Park Avenue Synagogue.
Music and Justice Concert Program, Part One:
World premiere of Arturo O’Farrill’s I Dream a World... with trio, string quartet, and featuring India Carney, UCLA alum and finalist on The Voice.
Works performed by the choir Tonality, conducted by Alexander Lloyd Blake:
- Emmy Award-winning composer Joel Thompson‘s America Will Be (Langston Hughes, Emma Lazarus)
- Nick Strimple‘s Psalm 133
- Jared Jenkins‘ Democracy (Langston Hughes) featuring India Carney.
- Gerald Cohen‘s I felt my legs were praying (Psalm 35, Abraham Joshua Heschel)
World premiere of Dear Freedom Rider, a new choral piece by Diane White-Clayton for the UCLA African American ensemble.
Performance of The Gates of Justice by Dave Brubeck, featuring:
- Cantorial soloist: Azi Schwartz, Senior Cantor of Park Avenue Synagogue
- Baritone/spiritual vocalist: Phillip Bullock
- Jazz Trio: Darius Brubeck (piano), Chris Brubeck (bass), Dan Brubeck (drums)
- Choir: Tonality, members of Los Angeles African-American church and synagogue choirs, and the UCLA Chamber Singers
- Brass and Percussion: Students of The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music
- Conductor: Neal Stulberg, director of orchestra studies and conducting at UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music
The Music and Justice series is presented by the Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience. Co-sponsors include The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, The Milken Archive of Jewish Music, the UCLA Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), the UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies, and the Global Jazz Studies Interdisciplinary Program at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, with support from the Cantors Assembly and the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History.