Performed only in cities
along the Underground Railroad, Metropolitan Opera star and
Ohio native Kathleen Battle, joined by the Clarence Smith
Community Chorus and The Voices at BGSU, presents a program
of stories and spirituals inspired by the extraordinary
journey to freedom during times of slavery.
This performance is part
of the Toledo Symphony’s North Star Festival, a series of
concerts and collaborations celebrating Toledo’s rich
history as a safe haven along the Underground Railroad, a
19th century network that helped slaves escape to freedom.
This North Star Festival
highlights and commemorates Toledo’s local heritage and the
musical contribution of Black Americans throughout history
from the 1850s to 1960s.
Soprano Kathleen Battle's
luminous voice has been called "...without qualification,
one of the very few most beautiful in the world" by the The
Washington Post. Her vocal talents have carried her to the
heights of the classical music world, performing on stages
in the world’s leading opera houses and major concert halls,
however, her gifts as a singer extend far beyond the realm
of classical music.
Her work as a great
interpreter of spirituals is documented on a joint recital
with Jessye Norman, Spirituals in Concert (DG). Her pure
emotional power in this music of joy and sorrow cuts through
all cultural boundaries.
As the Vienna Kurier
stated, “Kathleen Battle sang so beautifully in the
spiritual ‘Heaven is one beautiful place,’ she came pretty
close to heaven.”
Kathleen Battle received
the Laurence Olivier Award in London for her portrayal of
Zerbinetta in Covent Garden’s debut of Ariadne auf Naxos by
Richard Strauss. She has also received five Grammy Awards,
including three for Best Classical Vocalist, and similarly
distinguished herself as one of our generation’s finest
interpreters of Mozart (Susanna, Despina, Pamina, and
Zerlina), as well as the bel canto operas of Rossini (Il
Barbiere di Siviglia) and Donizetti (L’Elisir d'Amore, Don
Pasquale, La Fille du Regiment).
“This is just one more
example of how we are reaching for the stars and bringing
them back here to Toledo,” says the Toledo Symphony’s
President & CEO, Zak Vassar. “In the past few months, we’ve
performed with Renée Fleming, Audra McDonald, and Leslie
Odom, Jr. Now, with Kathleen Battle’s arrival, there’s
little doubt that the greatest performers in the world are
coming to work with the Toledo Symphony.”
Vassar was lucky enough to
see Battle perform a similar concert of spirituals in
December 2016 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
“It was electric,” he says, “Ms. Battle’s voice is
pristine—a perfect mix of radiant high notes and an
impressive lower register. It just fits this music so well.
Our audiences are in for an unforgettable concert.”
Underground Railroad – A Spiritual Journey will take place
Friday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m.at the Toledo Museum of Art
Peristyle Theater. Tickets are available at
toledosymphony.com or by calling the Toledo Symphony Box
Office at 419-246-8000. For more information, please contact
Felecia Kanney, Director of Marketing for the Toledo