Multi-instrumentalist, composer, and renowned trumpet master Nicholas Payton will be performing live in concert with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 25 at the Pikes Peak Center, 190 S. Cascade Ave. Additionally, he and Darin Atwater, founding director of Soulful Symphony, will be at a "meet the artists" event at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 24, in Kathryn Mohrman Theatre, inside Armstrong Hall. The event will focus on the careers of the musicians as well as the works to be performed at the concert the following night, and audience members will have an opportunity to participate in a Q&A session.
This groundbreaking collaboration between the Colorado College Africana Intellectual Project, the Office of Performing Arts, and the Colorado Springs Philharmonic will feature two masterworks rarely encountered in the concert hall: “Sketches of Spain” and the U.S. premiere of “Black American Symphony.” Both works highlight the contribution of Black American music to the world, here through the lens of symphonic music.
“Performances of symphonic work by composers of color are all too rare,” says NPR music critic Michelle Mercer. “Hosting not just a performance, but the U.S. premiere of Nicholas Payton’s bold, inventive ‘Black American Symphony’ here in Colorado Springs qualifies as our musical event of the year.”
“Sketches of Spain,” the renowned 1960 concept album by Miles Davis and Gil Evans, explores the melodies, harmonies, and rhythms of Spain. Payton will reinterpret the cultural influences of Spain via the Moors from Africa while the orchestra performs from the manuscripts prepared for the original recording.
In “Black American Symphony,” Payton’s 2012 full orchestral work, he draws exclusively from the canon of 20th-century Black music — blues, gospel, jazz, hip-hop, and rhythm and blues — to reveal a continuum of communal expression of a people that continues to change with the times. The work sums up the last 100 years of Black American music and suggests the possibilities of what is ahead in the next 100 years. Joining Payton on stage to conduct will be Darin Atwater, founding director of Soulful Symphony.
“What better way to ponder the past, embrace the present and envision the future than through music?” asks Ryan Bañagale ’00, associate professor of music and director of performing arts at Colorado College.
The concert is produced by Colorado College under the auspices of the Colorado College Africana Intellectual Project and the Office of Performing Arts. The goal of CC’s newly formed Office of Performing Arts is to encourage and amplify collaborative projects that resonate throughout the community. It encourages a holistic approach to the presentation of artists, critics, and scholars — student, faculty, regional, national, and international — as well as the production of theatre, dance, and other performance mediums at the college and professional level.
Tickets for “Nicholas Payton: Live in Concert with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic” are free for CC students, staff, and faculty (one ticket per CC ID at the Worner Information Desk or the Performing Arts Office in the Cornerstone Arts Center; supply limited). Tickets for the general public are $20-$75 and available at http://tiny.cc/PaytonCOS or directly from the Pikes Peak Center box office. Additional information at www.coloradocollege.edu/PerformingArts.