Dr. Leslie B. Dunner conducting Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra (photo: Chris Hintz)

The Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra and members of the New York Philharmonic will perform March 3 at Lincoln Center in a new program titled MUKTI: A Movement of Liberation, featuring the  world premiere performance of “a collaboratively created piece” combining original music, song, poetry, spoken word, dance and film to celebrate international liberation movements throughout history.

Featuring music by living Black composers, the concert program will be led by Interlochen Orchestra director Dr. Leslie Dunner, recipient of the Leonard Bernstein American Conductors Award and the NAACP’s James Weldon Johnson and Distinguished Achievement Awards.

The program’s opening half will highlight the world premiere performance of मुक्ति: MUKTI. Named for the Hindi word for liberation, one of the four themes of the Philharmonic’s 2022-23 season.

The new multidisciplinary piece was collaboratively created by students from all seven of Interlochen’s artistic disciplines—music, theatre, dance, visual arts, creative writing, film and new media, and interdisciplinary arts—under the direction of theatre faculty member Gulshirin Dubash, Associate Director of Music for Contemporary Performance and Collaborative Projects Courtney Kaiser-Sandler, and Theatre Design & Production Program Director Stephen John. The directors explain:

“With the task of creating a program that assessed liberation on a global scale, spanning centuries and cultures, we delved into movements through music, theatre, dance, visual art, creative writing, and film and wove a web of intricately created moments. Students generated work that responded to the growing world around them as they understood it, however, keeping in mind the history that came before them and the truths that may not be theirs, but are nonetheless deeply felt and valid.”

Interlochen Center for the Arts’ President Trey Devey notes,

“We will explore liberation of all kinds from a global perspective that represents our diverse student body. The performance culminates in the possibility of hope and new considerations— an ending aptly created by the next generation of creative changemakers.”

The Interlochen student orchestra will also perform side-by-side with members of the New York Philharmonic, led by Dunner. They will interpret works by four living Black composers. “Unburied, Unmourned, Unmarked: Requiem for Rice”, by John Wineglass explores the history of enslaved people in America. It will receive its New York premiere. “Equality”, a work set to Maya Angelou’s poetry was composed by Interlochen alumnus Jonathan Bailey Holland.

The program’s second half is completed by Mary D. Watkins‘ “Soul of Remembrance”, a movement from her orchestral suite “Five Movements in Color”, and Valerie Coleman’s “Umoja”, named for the Swahili word for “unity,” which denotes the first day of Kwanzaa.

Included in the program, Interlochen Center for the Arts will announce the inaugural class of NY Phil Interlochen Scholars: 30 New York youth who have been chosen to attend Interlochen Arts Camp on full-tuition scholarships this summer. Through a newly established NY Phil Interlochen Scholars program, the awardees were chosen from 15 partner organizations in the New York community.

This concert performance takes place during the Interlochen Arts Academy’s weeklong tour to New York City wherein students visit partner organizations, give performances around the the city, and tour organizations depending to their own majors. In addition, Dr. Dunner will conduct two further liberation-themed programs at David Geffen Hall (March 2 & 4).