In 2016, The Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra of Mount Holyoke College presented their Mary Lyon Concert in Washington DC. The concert dealt with major themes in the nation at the time, the Syrian Crisis and #BlackLivesMatter.
In response, we crafted a program that approached the subject of religious tolerance, by looking at the commonalities of the three Abrahamic faiths at the center of some of the world's biggest conflicts. The program featured “Abraham” by Roxanna Panufnik, with MHC faculty member Linda Laderach as the violin soloist. Using the story of Abraham as its inspiration, Panufnik drew from the musical traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; calls on the shofa, intermingle with calls to prayer in the Islamic tradition and Gregorian chant.
To celebrate the launch of the new series, the orchestra commissioned Tawnie Olsen with the help from a grant by the Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy. Her piece, "Lyonesse" celebrates the energy of Mount Holyoke College's founder, Mary Lyon, and the inspiration she continues to provide for generations of women after her.
Finally, the program celebrated the life of the Civil Rights Activist, Fannie Lou Hamer, with a suite of music selected from the opera "Dark River" by Mary D. Watkins. Rich with musical references to Motown, and Gospel, the performance featured soloists Andrea Chinedu Nwoke, soprano and Philip Lima, baritone with a chorus of DC professionals.
Tawnie Olsen - Lyonesse
Roxanna Panufnik - Abraham
Mary D. Watkins - Dark River Concert Suite