“An ambassador for classical and gospel music… His talent stretches across traditional divisions. In the realest sense, he uses his artistry to make our world a better place.” —Wynton Marsalis on Damien Sneed
Music & Words takes audiences on a journey from the spirituals, art songs and poems of Harry T. Burleigh and Laurence Hope, to the melodic chords of Samuel Barber, and the well-known hit songs of George & Ira Gershwin. Leading this musical reflection on the relationship between composer and librettist, Damien Sneed will be joined by Metropolitan Opera soprano Brandie Sutton, and actor/writer Karen Chilton, baritone Justin Michael Austin, and classical chamber musicians for this debut exploration of the music of 1860 to the 1930s for strings, piano and voice.
Co-presented with the Fisher Center at Bard College.
Music & Words is the first performance of Classical, Jazz & Soul: A Musical Offering; a three concert series tracing the American vocal tradition from 1860 to today, led by prodigious multi-genre pianist, conductor, composer, producer, arranger, and educator Damien Sneed.
Special guests subject to change.
Damien Sneed is a multi-genre recording artist and a 2014 recipient of the prestigious Sphinx Medal of Excellence honor, which is presented annually to emerging Black and Latino leaders in classical music, Sneed has also garnered attention in a wide range of other musical genres, including jazz, gospel, pop, R&B, opera and musical theatre. He has already been featured in the New York Times multiple times for his work in various genres. A pianist, organist, vocalist, conductor, composer, producer, arranger, and arts educator, Sneed has worked with legends such as Aretha Franklin, Wynton Marsalis, Jessye Norman, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, and Ashford & Simpson, Wycliffe Gordon, and Eric Reed. He has served as music director for GRAMMY® Award-winning gospel artists, including Kim Burrell, The Clark Sisters, Richard Smallwood, Donnie McClurkin, Hezekiah Walker, Marvin Sapp, Karen Clark Sheard, Dorinda Clark-Cole and Kierra Sheard. He also served as musical director for season four of Sunday Best, Black Entertainment Television’s (BET) hit award-winning gospel singing competition show. In May 2015, he was tapped by Tony Award winner, George Faison as the musical director and conductor for the CityParks Foundation’s Central Park’s Summer Stage production of The Wiz: A Celebration in Dance & Music. The production included Phylicia Rashad, André De Shields, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Lillias White and Ebony Jo-Ann.