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Historic Performance Launches DUKE

Borne of a unique collaboration of Karen S. Barbera and Randall Keith Horton, this book was part of a major event: the world premiere of Ellington’s only full-length orchestration of Black, Brown and Beige and Sacred Music at Dr. Phillips Center, Steinmetz Hall on January 26, 2022–the book’s publication date.

One of the most prolific and iconic composers of all time, Duke Ellington created Black, Brown and Beige to provide a more accurate accounting of African American history written for the first time by a member of his race. It was, according to Ellington, “a parallel to the history of the Negro in America,” with black, brown and beige representing red, white and blue.

The Ellington-Horton Black, Brown and Beige premiered at Steinmetz Hall was commissioned by G. Schirmer, Inc. through Ellington’s son Mercer in 1987 and arranged and orchestrated by music scholar and former Ellington bandmate Randall Keith Horton.

Emmy-, Grammy-, and Tony Award winner Audra McDonald, London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, The Jazz Orchestra at Dr. Phillips Center, musicians from the Jazz at Lincoln Center and Bethune-Cookman University Concert Chorale came together for this powerful performance, part of the two-week Grand Opening Celebration marking the completion of Steinmetz Hall—the third theater in Orlando’s $615 million performing arts center.

The performance came nearly 80 years after the first performance by Ellington’s band in New York City’s Carnegie Hall in 1943.

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