Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

JALC Concert Series Celebrates Freedom

On October 28, 29 and 30, Jazz at Lincoln Center will produce concerts that explore the struggle for worldwide human rights by uniting jazz composers with acclaimed actors and orators. “Let Freedom Swing: A Celebration of Human Rights and Social Justice” will feature the words of renowned activists set to original commissioned music performed by the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Jazz at Lincoln Center artistic director Wynton Marsalis (pictured). This program is part of the grand opening festival of the new home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Frederick P. Rose Hall.

“Jazz has the power to commemorate, to teach, and to transcend boundaries,” said Marsalis, again. “Together, these artists will bring to life the essential truths of American democracy-freedom of thought, freedom of expression and freedom of speech. In the halls of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s new home, we say, ‘Let Freedom Swing’.”

Vaclav Havel, a writer, dramatist and leading figure in the Velvet Revolution, was the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic. For Jazz at Lincoln Center, he has created an original libretto, adapted from his writings, with a male and female part and that will be paired with the original music of Emil Viklicky. Performing these roles will be husband-and-wife actors, writers, and producers Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee.

Former U.S. president Lyndon B. Johnson was a champion of peace and fought against segregation. Actor Glenn Close will recite from one of President Johnson’s most famous speeches, “The American Promise,” which he delivered before a 1965 joint session of Congress, with music composed by Jimmy Heath.

Robert F. Kennedy, a champion of civil rights, gave what many considered to be his most significant speech in South Africa on June 7, 1966, during the nation’s “Day of Affirmation.” Keith David will deliver excerpts from this address with a new musical composition by Darin Atwater.

The words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a minister whose bravery, intelligence and unwavering dedication to non-violence pushed our nation to strive for equality, justice and freedom for all Americans, will be delivered by the renowned pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City, Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, human rights activist and president of the State University of New York at Old Westbury. The commissioned musical work of Billy Childs will be featured.

Actor Morgan Freeman will recite the words of Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa and winner of the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, whose quest for democracy and human rights continues today. The new musical piece is co-composed by Darius Brubeck and Zim Ngqawana.

A figure of immense moral courage, Eleanor Roosevelt worked tirelessly for social justice and equality. After the death of her husband, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, she served as a U.S. representative to the United Nations, where she helped win passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Toshiko Akiyoshi composed the music to accompany Eleanor Roosevelt’s writings and the orator will be announced shortly.

“With inspirational events such as Let Freedom Swing, Jazz at Lincoln Center seeks to motivate people all over the world to communicate and understand each other through cultural expression,” said Jazz at Lincoln Center executive director Derek E. Gordon. “In our new home, Frederick P. Rose Hall, we will combine extraordinary music from our present with powerful words from our past to create an unforgettable celebration of the human spirit.”

For information and tickets, please visit the Jazz at Lincoln Center Box Office located on Broadway at 60th Street, call CenterCharge at 212.721.6500 or visit Performances begin each night at 8 p.m. in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater located in Frederick P. Rose Hall on Broadway at 60th Street. Tickets are available for $10, $30, $50, $70, $85, $100, $115 and $150.

Originally Published