The LaGrange Symphony Youth Orchestra will join their adult counterparts in a side-by-side performance to open this concert. The winner of the Dorothy Allen Turner First Place Award in the 2024 Young Artists Competition (PIANO) to be held in early February will perform the winning musical selection. The symphonic highlight of this concert will be a beautiful symphony completed in 1934 by African American composer William Dawson (1899-1990), an Alabama native who attended Tuskegee Institute.
After completing a master’s degree from the American Conservatory of Music and a ten-year absence where he pursued additional music opportunities, he returned to Tuskegee Institute and developed the Tuskegee Institute Choir into an internationally renowned ensemble. Dawson, a composer, choir director, professor, and musicologist, named his symphony Negro Folk Symphony and referred to the piece as a symbolic link uniting Africa and her rich heritage with her descendants in America. The symphony debuted in Carnegie Hall in a performance by the Philadelphia Symphony and was received with much acclaim and multiple “call backs to the stage.” Although Dawson achieved much in his long life and musical career and is an extremely well-known and well-respected composer of choral music, he never wrote another symphony.