Jordan de Souza – conductor
Julia Bullock – singer


Still Symphony No. 1, 'Afro-American'

Gershwin Somebody from Somewhere

Bonds The Negro Speaks of Rivers

Gershwin Summertime

Bonds Winter Moon

Gershwin Soon

— Interval —

Dvořák Symphony No. 9, 'From the New World' Listen

We explore the music of the Harlem Renaissance with compelling American soprano Julia Bullock. Then Dvořák’s ever-popular ‘New World’ symphony brings our series Let Freedom Ring to a close.

It’s a fitting finale for this series exploring American music. Inspired by the spirituals and folk music Dvořák heard while he was working in New York in the 1890s, it may well be the most popular symphony composed in America.

But for the most popular symphony composed by an American, we must look to William Grant Still, a prolific and trailblazing Black composer and a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 30s. His First Symphony is an audience favourite in the US, but not often programmed by British orchestras. Its four short movements, ‘Longings’, ‘Sorrows’, ‘Humor’, and ‘Aspirations’, are threaded through with the sounds of the Blues, ragtime and jazz, and it culminates in a triumphant hymn of hope.

Julia Bullock is one of our Featured Artists this season. Known for her intense, authentic performances and commanding stage presence, she is also an eloquent advocate for equity and inclusion in the arts.

She sings two settings by Margaret Bonds of poems by Langston Hughes – both composer and writer were leading lights of the Harlem Renaissance. Bonds discovered Hughes’ poetry while at university and was inspired to continue her studies in the face of terrible racism, and later she and Hughes became lifelong friends. Between the Bonds songs are three Gershwin classics, including the poignant lullaby from Porgy and Bess (see our 9 November concert), ‘Summertime’.

Part of Let Freedom Ring

Need to know

Prices & Discounts

£15 – £70

Multi-buy offer available; under-18s and concessions discounts available; discounted tickets for students via Student Pulse (limited availability)

Running time

1 hr 40 mins, including a 20 minute interval

Recommended age

From 7+

Programme notes

Free printed programmes will be available at the venue. Digital programme notes available here.

Box office

Philharmonia Box Office: 0800 652 6717
Monday to Friday 10am – 5pm

Before the event

Three people talking as part of a panel
6pm, Royal Festival Hall

Insights Talk

Free, no ticket required

Julia Bullock in conversation with Suzanne Doyle about her role as Featured Artist and Let Freedom Ring: Celebrating the Sounds of America.


Royal Festival Hall

Royal Festival Hall

Southbank Centre
Belvedere Road

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