The choir of Trinity Church, Copley Square, in collaboration with Berklee College of Music, presents Duke Ellington’s “A Sacred Concert,” on Sunday, April 30, at 5 pm, free and open to all. Featuring the Greg Hopkins Jazz Orchestra, soprano Dominique Eade, alto Renese King, baritone Daon Drisdom, and tap dancer Thomas DeFranz, led by Colin Lynch, Director of Music. Given the extensive resources it requires, the piece has remained a concert rarity since Ellington’s death in 1974.
Fusing jazz and classical styles, spirituals, gospel, blues, and dance, this bold and sprawling work serves as a culmination to Ellington’s long and incomparable career. Commissioned in 1965 as part of the consecration of San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral during the turbulence of the Civil Rights movement and the war in Việt Nam, these sacred works resounded many times over the last decade of his life. For subsequent performances at the Cathedral of St John the Divine in 1968 and at Westminster Abbey in 1973, Ellington reworked the score to accommodate other venues and performers, as well as his evolving artistic and spiritual vision.
This music is the most important thing I’ve ever done or am ever likely to do. This is personal, not career. Now I can say out loud to all the world what I’ve been saying to myself for years on my knees.