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The Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert on WRTI: Hannibal Lokumbe's Healing Tones, Sibelius' Symphony No.2

Jessica Griffin/Philadelphia Orchestra
Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting The Philadelphia Orchestra, Morgan State Choir, Philadelphia Heritage Choir, and soloists in Verizon Hall

Join us on Sunday, October 24th at 1 PM on WRTI 90.1 and Monday, October 25th at 7 PM on WRTI HD-2 to hear a 2019 performance of Hannibal Lokumbe's self-proclaimed gift to Philadelphia: Healing Tones, and Jean Sibelius's Symphony No. 2, which has become a signature piece for the Orchestra. 

Hannibal, a composer and jazz trumpeter, underwent a spiritual awakening in the 1970s that reached its zenith after he was cured of pneumonia by a tribal healer in Kenya. Healing Tones is his "hymn to Philadelphia, and its life-givers and healers." Its a world-premiere perfomance and a Philadelphia Orchestra commission. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts.

WRTI's Debra Lew Harder talks backstage with Hannibal.

Courtesy of the artist
Jazz trumpeter, composer, poet, and community activist Hannibal Lokumbe

During the composition of Healing Tones, Hannibal worked directly with diverse groups—the inmates of the Philadelphia Detention Center in Holmesburg, and the Broad Street Ministry among them—and their input shaped and informed the oratorio-like work.

Though he has been writing "spiritatorios," as he calls them, for three decades, this is Hannibal’s first composition to be driven primarily by text, in this case his own.

It takes the form of dialogues between the Everlasting (or Creator-God, voiced by a mezzo-soprano), the Eternal Mother (soprano), and the Shaman (tenor). The chorus represents the Ancestors, symbolized by the moon, and the orchestra and conductor are the Primordial Force, or the sun.

In Sunday’s broadcast, The Eternal Mother is American soprano Karen Slack, who made her Philadelphia Orchestra debut in July 2001; The Creator-God is the voice of mezzo-soprano Funmike Lagoke, a Nigerian-American born in Washington, DC, and raised in Lagos and London, and she makes her Philadelphia Orchestra debut with this performance; and tenor Rodrick Dixon, who made his Philadelphia Orchestra debut in 2008, is the voice of the Shaman.

The choral forces are those of the critically acclaimed Morgan State University Choir, and the Philadelphia Heritage Chorale, presenters of a broad range of choral literature, with a special commitment to music born of the African diaspora, or created by composers of African descent.

The sound of the shofar opens Healing Tones, in remembrance of those who lost their lives at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life/Or L'Simcha synagogue. It's played by Audrey Glickman, who was leading an early morning service when a gunman carried out a mass shooting inside the house of worship in October, 2018.
Following intermission, the Philadelphians perform the second of Jean Sibelius’s seven symphonies, a work long associated with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and with a finale as majestic and emotionally powerful as any in music.

During intermission, WRTI’s Debra Lew Harder speaks backstage with Hannibal, and Susan Lewis talks about the program with Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Credit Wikepdia Commons
Jean Sibelius in 1913


Hannibal: Healing Tones

Veil One: The Tones of Peace
Veil Two: The Tones of War
Veil Three: The Tones of Healing

Karen Slack, soprano

Funmike Lagoke, mezzo-soprano

Rodrick Dixon, tenor

The Morgan State University Choir
The Philadelphia Heritage Chorale


Sibelius: Symphony No. 2 

The Philadelphia Orchestra
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor

Listen to The Philadelphia Orchestrain Concert broadcasts, every Sunday at 1 PM on WRTI 90.1, streaming online at WRTI.org, and on the WRTI mobile app! Listen again on Mondays at 7 PM on WRTI HD-2.

Listen on demand for up to two weeks after broadcast on WRTI Replay!Info here.

Gregg was the host of WRTI's morning drive show from 2012 until his retirement from WRTI in January, 2021. He began producing and hosting The Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert broadcasts in 2013, joining the Orchestra in Hong Kong for the first-ever live international radio broadcasts from that island in 2016, and in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for two historic broadcasts in 2018. You can still hear Gregg as host of the Orchestra broadcasts every Sunday and Monday on WRTI.