St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and IN UNISON Chorus celebrate Black History Month with annual Lift Every Voice concert

February 22 concert features vocalists Jermaine Smith and Denise Thimes with the IN UNISON Chorus, under the direction of Kevin McBeth, for its 25th anniversary season

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(January 22, 2019, St. Louis, MO) – The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra's IN UNISON Chorus continues its 25th anniversary season with a beloved tradition: The Lift Every Voice Black History Month concert, set for Friday, February 22, 2019. The concert begins at 7:30pm.

Vocalists Jermaine Smith and Denise Thimes join the SLSO and IN UNISON Chorus, under the direction of Kevin McBeth, for a night of music that includes gospel favorites, spirituals, and songs from the 1959 film adaptation of Porgy and Bess. The concert also includes a performance of Gospel Mass, a composition by Dr. Robert Ray, the founding director of the IN UNISON Chorus and will also premiere "It's Working," an SLSO/IN UNISON Chorus commission by Kansas City composer Isaac Cates.

The February 22 concert is the second of three concerts during the chorus' 25th anniversary season. A free community concert hosted by the chorus each year is scheduled for Friday, May 3, at Powell Hall.

Specializing in the performance and preservation of music with African and African-American origins, the IN UNISON Chorus has performed with the SLSO and in local churches throughout the region for thousands of people over the past 25 years. It was created in 1994 as part of the IN UNISON program, a Monsanto-supported SLSO outreach program that connects the SLSO with new audiences through African-American partner churches in the St. Louis region.

Since its debut, the IN UNISON Chorus, composed of 125 talented singers from across the St. Louis region, has performed more than 100 times, including twice-yearly performances with the SLSO and its popular free community concert each year.

Lift Every Voice: Black History Month Celebration
Friday, February 22, 2019, 7:30pm
Powell Hall, 718 N. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, MO

Kevin McBeth, conductor
Jermaine Smith, vocals
Denise Thimes, vocals
St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON Chorus | Kevin McBeth, Director

Julius WILLIAMS The Legacy (Spiritual Medley)
Rollo DILWORTH Freedom's Plow
GERSHWIN / arr. BENNET Porgy and Bess Selections
arr. BILLUPS "Every Time I Feel the Spirit"
Stephen FLAHERTY "Make Them Hear You"
arr. Adaron JACKSON "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free"
Isaac CATES "It's Working" (SLSO and IN UNISON Chorus commission)
arr. Roland CARTER "Lift Every Voice and Sing"
Robert RAY Gospel Mass

This concert is supported by Monsanto Fund.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

About the St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON Chorus
The St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON Chorus is an all-volunteer, 120+-voice auditioned ensemble that performs a variety of musical styles, with a focus on the interpretation, performance, and preservation of the music of African-American and African cultures. Chorus members have traditionally come from the IN UNISON Program member churches, but also from area universities and colleges. Chorus members are teachers, nurses, office workers, students, doctors, and people from many other walks of life. Some members have retired from long careers, some are just entering the work force or working on degrees. Many sing in other vocal ensembles or church choirs. All share a love of music and of singing.

About the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
Celebrated as one of today's most exciting and enduring orchestras, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra is the second-oldest orchestra in the country, marking its 139th year with the 2018/2019 season. Widely considered one of the world's finest, the SLSO maintains its commitment to artistic excellence, educational impact, and community connections – all in service to its mission of enriching lives through the power of music.

In addition to its regular concert performances at Powell Hall, which has been the permanent home of the SLSO for 50 years, the orchestra is an integral part of the diverse and vibrant St. Louis community, presenting free education programs and performances throughout the region each year. It presents St. Louis Symphony Live at the Pulitzer, a four-program series at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation. The SLSO also serves as the resident orchestra for Opera Theatre Saint Louis, with this season marking the 42nd year of their partnership.

The Grammy Award–winning SLSO's impact beyond the St. Louis region is realized through weekly Saturday night concert broadcasts on St. Louis Public Radio, acclaimed recordings, and regular touring activity. A sought-after artistic partner by preeminent musicians and composers from across the globe, as well as by local and national organizations, the SLSO enjoys a long history of robust and enduring artistic collaborations that have developed and deepened over the years.

Today, the SLSO builds on the institution's current momentum on all fronts, including artistic, financial, audience growth, and community impact, and looks toward the future with Stéphane Denève. Denève, who has been a frequent guest conductor with the orchestra since 2003, begins his tenure as Music Director with the 19/20 season, following this season as Music Director Designate. For more information, visit

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