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As we travel through the year, Classical 91.5 will present a number of seasonal or holiday specials. Come back to this page on a regular basis to find out what specials we're offering to delight you and enrich your holiday celebrations.

The Ballad of the Brown King and Other Music for Christmas by Black Composers (12/15 @ 12pm, 12/27 @ 3pm)

Dessoff & Bonds
The Dessoff Choirs presents a cantata by Margaret Bonds made in collaboration with Langston Hughes and inspired by the words of W E B. Du Bois

Dr. Louise Toppin, noted performer and scholar specializing in repertoire of African American composers, presents the world premiere recording of Margaret Bonds’ The Ballad of the Brown King, a Christmas cantata that focuses on Balthazar, the dark-skinned king who journeyed to Bethlehem to witness the birth of Jesus. The Dessoff Choirs and Orchestra along with soloists are led by Malcolm Merriweather.

“Dessoff is dedicated to performing rarely heard choral masterpieces,” Dessoff music director Malcolm J. Merriweather said in a statement. “We are thrilled to cast a spotlight on Margaret Bonds’s neglected but important contribution to the American music canon. She is a forgotten voice for civil rights that must be remembered, appreciated, and cherished. It seems the time has come for Bonds’s voice to be heard.”

Dessoff Choir
Dessoff Choirs, programming contemporary and newly commissioned works, including the music of African-American composers and other people of color.

Margaret Bonds (1913–1972): The Ballad of the Brown King (1954) Libretto by Langston Hughes (1902–1967)

1. Of the Three Wise Men
2. They Brought Fine Gifts
3. Sing Alleluia
4. Mary Had a Little Baby
5. Now When Jesus Was Born
6. Could He Have Been an Ethiope?
7. Oh, Sing of the King Who Was Tall and Brown
8. That Was a Christmas Long Ago
9. Alleluia

Laquita Mitchell, soprano
Lucia Bradford, mezzo-soprano
Noah Stewart, tenor
The Dessoff Choirs & Orchestra
Malcolm J. Merriweather conductor

The program will also include supplemental musical selections chosen by Dr. Louise Toppin.