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

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

Join us on Sunday, September 15th at 1 PM to hear a 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.

Hannibal Lokumbe

WRTI's Debra Lew Harder talks backstage with Hannibal.

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 synagogue. It will be played by Audrey Glickman, who was leading an early morning service when a gunman carried out a mass shooting inside the house of worship last October.

Credit Wikepdia Commons
Jean Sibelius in 1913

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.

This is the program Philadelphia was waiting for! Don’t miss it on Sept. 15th , from 1 to 3 PM on WRTI 90.1, and streaming worldwide at


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

Gregg Whiteside is producer and host of The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcasts, every Sunday at 1 pm on WRTI 90.1, streaming online at, and on the WRTI mobile app! Listen again on Mondays at 7 pm on WRTI HD-2.