This April, Anthony Parnther returns to the Gateways Festival Orchestra, whose members – all professional classical musicians of African descent – hail from leading orchestras nationwide. Parnther led Gateways’ sold-out Carnegie Hall debut in 2022, and now, to crown Gateways’ milestone 30th anniversary season, he helms the orchestra’s Chicago debut at Orchestra Hall, home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. There, Parnther combines Elgar’s iconic “Enigma” Variations with works by two African American composers with Chicago connections: Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson and Margaret Bonds.

Perkinson, who served as Artistic Director of the Center for Black Music Research at the city’s Columbia College, is represented by his concert overture Worship, and Chicago native Bonds by the Montgomery Variations, a set of variations dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr., which depict Black resistance to segregation in the Jim Crow South. Parnther’s Gateways program also features a special set by eight-time Grammy-winning vocal sextet Take 6.

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