Performances star critically-acclaimed bass-baritone Eric Owens

DETROIT, (Feb. 12, 2013) – The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) will perform the world premiere of James Lee, III’s Sukkot Through Orion’s Nebula as part of its 35th Annual Classical Roots Celebration and concert. This much-anticipated black tie celebration raises awareness about the contributions of African-Americans to classical music and supports increased opportunities through special programs, such as the DSO’s African-American Orchestral Fellowship Program, a mentoring opportunity for young professional musicians. The Classical Roots Concerts take place on Fri., Mar. 8 at 10:45 a.m. and Sat., Mar. 9 at 8 p.m. The Classical Roots Celebration is presented by JPMorgan Chase.

The Celebration will honor widely-esteemed American conductor James DePreist, Director Emeritus of Conducting and Orchestral Studies at the Julliard School and former Music Director of the Oregon Symphony.

“Growing up, music always played an important role in my family, and I developed a passion for playing the piano and singing,” said Janice Cosby Bridges, chief marketing officer, Ascension Health Michigan and co-chair of the Classical Roots Celebration. “I am proud to be part of an event that opens the opportunity for African-Americans to celebrate classical music.”

The DSO will be led by DSO Music Director Leonard Slatkin, and will star award-winning bass-baritone Eric Owens performing Wagner’s “Wotan’s Farewell” from Die Walkure and “Die Frist ist um” from The Flying Dutchman. The concerts will also feature performances by the Brazeal Dennard Chorale, led by Augustus O. Hill and the Vanguard Voices, led by Kevin Dewey.

Co-chairing the Classical Roots Celebration are Janice Cosby Bridges and Herman B. Gray, M.D. with the support of more than 30 other Detroit-area citizens and corporate leaders committed to the Classical Roots mission.

The Celebration begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Max M. Fisher Music Center with a strolling dinner in The Music Box featuring performances by the DSO Civic Jazz Ensemble, followed by the “Classical Roots” concert at 8 p.m. in Orchestra Hall. Following the concert, guests are invited to a dancing and dessert afterglow in the Atrium and The Music Box featuring DJ Global.

About Eric Owens

Eric Owens has created an uncommon niche for himself in the ever-growing body of contemporary opera works through his determined tackling of new and challenging roles. He received great critical acclaim for portraying the title role in the world premiere of Elliot Goldenthal’s Grendel with the Los Angeles Opera and again at the Lincoln Center Festival, in a production directed and designed by Julie Taymor. Of Owens’ performance, The New Yorker’s Alex Ross raved, “His hefty, tonally focused, richly colored voice cut through the tumult of Goldenthal’s score, and his vital, naturalistic acting gave heart to a high-tech spectacle.” Eric Owens also enjoys a close association with John Adams, for whom he created the role of General Leslie Groves in the world premiere of Doctor Atomic at the San Francisco Opera, and of the Storyteller in the world premiere of A Flowering Tree at Peter Sellars’ New Crowned Hope Festival in Vienna. Adams has also conducted the American bass-baritone in his setting of Whitman’s The Wound Dresser in a live broadcast with the BBC Proms at Royal Albert Hall, and with the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. Owens made his Boston Symphony Orchestra debut under the baton of David Robertson in Adams’ Nativity oratorio El Niño.

In addition to great popular and critical acclaim, Eric Owens has been recognized with multiple awards, including the 2003 Marian Anderson Award, a 1999 ARIA award, and first prize in the Plácido Domingo Operalia Competition, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition. Other awards include first prize in the MacAllister Awards Voice Competition, first prize in New York’s Opera Index Career Grant Auditions, first prize in the Palm Beach Opera National Voice Competition, and first prize in the Mario Lanza Voice Competition. Owens was also an ARTS Award recipient in The National Foundation for Advancement in Arts’ 1988 Arts Recognition and Talent Search.

A native of Philadelphia, Owens began his music training as a pianist at the age of six, followed by formal oboe study at age eleven under Lloyd Shorter of the Delaware Symphony and Louis Rosenblatt of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He later studied voice while an undergraduate at Temple University and then as a graduate student at the Curtis Institute of Music, and currently studies with Armen Boyajian. He serves on the Board of Trustees of both The National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts and Astral Artistic Services.

About Leonard Slatkin

Internationally acclaimed American conductor Leonard Slatkin began his tenure as Music Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in September of 2008.  In addition to his post at the DSO, he has served as Music Director of the Orchestre National de Lyon, France, since 2011. He is also Principal Guest Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, a post that began in the fall of 2008, and is the author of a new book entitled Conducting Business.

Following a 17-year appointment as Music Director of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Slatkin became Music Director of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. in 1996. Other positions in the United States have included Principal Guest Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra, first Music Director of the Cleveland Orchestra’s summer series at the Blossom Music Festival, Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl, and additional positions with the New Orleans Philharmonic and the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. In Great Britain he served as Principal Guest Conductor of both the Philharmonia Orchestra of London and the Royal Philharmonic, and was also Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Since his debut with the New York Philharmonic in 1974, Slatkin has led virtually all of the world’s leading orchestras including those of Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Cleveland, Minnesota and Philadelphia. European orchestras include the Berlin Philharmonic, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Czech Philharmonic, Bayerische Rundfunk and all the prominent ensembles in Paris and London. He has also appeared on podiums throughout the Far East and is a regular guest at major summer festivals such as Aspen, Tanglewood, Ravinia, and Saratoga.

Slatkin’s more than 100 recordings have been recognized with seven Grammy awards and 64 nominations. He has recorded with the symphony orchestras of Detroit, Saint Louis, Nashville and Chicago, as well as the New York Philharmonic, the Minnesota Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, and all of the major London orchestras as well as those in Munich, Paris, Lyon, Prague, Stockholm and Berlin.

Tickets for the DSO’s Classical Roots Concerts range in price from $15 to $50 with a limited number of box seats available for $100. Tickets may be purchased at the Max M. Fisher Music Center box office (3711 Woodward Avenue, Detroit); by phone at (313) 576-5111; or online at dso.org. For group ticket information (groups of 10 or more), please contact Chuck Dyer at (313) 576-5130 or cdyer@dso.org.

Classical Roots Celebration tickets, which include the reception and strolling dinner, the Classical Roots performance and the post-concert dancing and dessert, start at $150. All tickets include valet parking. Sponsorship opportunities ranging from $1,000-$25,000 are also available. For further information about individual tickets and sponsorships or to make a reservation, please contact Caitlin Bush at 313.576.5494 or cbush@dso.org.



Leonard Slatkin, conductor; Eric Owens, bass-baritone; Brazeal Dennard Chorale; Vanguard Voices

Fri., Mar. 8 at 10:45 a.m.

Sat. Mar. 9 at 8 p.m.

JOHNSON Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing
JAMES LEE, III Sukkot Through Orion’s Nebula
WAGNER “Wotan’s Farewell” from Die Walkure
The Flying Dutchman: Die Frist ist um
BRAHMS Academic Festival Overture


Max M. Fisher Music Center

Sponsored by JPMorgan Chase

Sat., Mar. 9

6:30 p.m. Reception and Strolling Dinner

8 p.m. Classical Roots Concert

10:30 p.m. Dessert & Dancing Afterglow

Black Tie Event


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