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Here are some of the standout concert events from the many productions Nolan has worked on through the years.
Since 2003, Nolan has partnered with Georgetown University and The Kennedy Center to music-produce "Let Freedom Ring," the annual Kennedy Center Concert Hall celebration honoring the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. For most of these years, Georgetown has commissioned him to compose or arrange a new work, drawing inspiration from the Civil Rights Movement and contemporary issues pertaining to social justice. Headliners for this event, which has been attended by three sitting U.S. Presidents, have included Aretha Franklin, Patti Labelle, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Audra McDonald, Leslie Odom Jr., Denyce Graves, Vanessa Williams, Bobby McFerrin, Natalie Cole, India.Arie, and more. Presented annually, 2003 to present. (Pictured below: Nolan with McFerrin, Williams, Cole, Khan, Mitchell/McDonald, and Knight)
In May of 2022, Nolan's NEWorks Philharmonic Orchestra & NEWorks Voices of America joined the Choral Arts Society to perform a critically-acclaimed, east coast premiere of composer Damien Geter’s "An African American Requiem" at The Kennedy Center. This concert made The Washington Post's 2022 best in classical music list. Click here to read The Washington Post concert review. (Photo: Shannon Finney courtesy of Choral Arts)
"Ethereality: Celestial Dreams & the Great Beyond" was a choral/orchestral concert exploring the intersectionality of science and spirituality. The first mounting of this concert experience featured contemporary classical works and stirring spiritual arrangements by composers of African descent performed by the Morgan State University and NEWorks Voices of America Choirs, stellar soloists, and the 60-member NEWorks Philharmonic Orchestra, formed especially for this occasion. The concert was co-presented by the National Museum of African American History & Culture and NEWorks Productions, hosted by Denyce Graves-Montgomery. Conducted by Maestros Julius Williams and Nolan Williams, Jr. The Great Hall of the historic Nineteenth Baptist Church, Washington, D.C. October 12, 2019. (Photo credit: Jhon Ochoa, courtesy of NEWorks Productions)
Bernstein Tribute was a concert of music and movement curated by Nolan to honor the Leonard Bernstein centenary. The mixed program featured less-commonly performed works by the iconic American composer, including excerpts from Bernstein's song cycle for children, I Hate Music!, and his sonata for clarinet and piano. The tribute also featured a rousing performance by internationally-celebrated tap 'hoofer', Cartier Williams. Millennium Stage, The Kennedy Center. April 25, 2018.
Inspired by Bernstein’s MASS, Nolan's Philadelphia Community Mass drew together a collective of Philadelphia-based composers, musicians and directors to create a work that explores the relevance of faith in our times. Featuring new compositions from four composers with Philadelphia roots -- Dr. Rollo Dilworth, Ruth Naomi Floyd, Dr. Jay Fluellen and Evelyn Simpson Curenton -- the Philadelphia Community Mass was presented as a full concert at Philly's Monumental Baptist Church (August 11, 2018) and The Kennedy Center Millennium Stage (November 25, 2018). The concert was anchored by the Philadelphia Community Mass Choir, a collective of singers under the direction of Dr. Fluellen. Excerpts of the Mass were also performed by The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra at the Mann Center (June 25, 2019), orchestrated and conducted by Nolan.
As a signature concert of the New Frontiers festival, the New Frontiers Back-to-School Youth Rally was a Kennedy Center Millennium Stage program presented on August 21, 2017 featuring: Step Afrika, Washington Performing Arts' Children of the Gospel, youth from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, and Split This Rock young poets. The program was preceded by science events engaging students on The Kennedy Center Terrace in observance of the Great American Solar Eclipse.
On November 15, 2015, diverse choirs and vocalists from throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region gathered for a Community-wide Spirituals Sing. Co-presented by The Kennedy Center, Washington National Opera and NEWorks Productions, the sing was a meaningful community engagement experience that complemented WNO's world premiere of composer Philip Glass's revised version of his acclaimed opera, APPOMATTOX. Grand Foyer, The Kennedy Center. (Photo Credit: Cynthia Cephas, courtesy of NEWorks Productions)
Produced in 2013, "Reflections on Peace: From Gandhi to King" was a two-day concert series that commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, Day one featured an intimate evening of music and reflections at the residence of the Ambassador of India to the United States. Day two boasted a candlelight global concert for peace on The National Mall with performances by an inspiring slate of international artists, headlined by jazz pianist extraordinaire Jon Batiste.
(Photo Credit: Kadesh DuBose, courtesy of NEWorks Productions)
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COVER PHOTO CREDIT: Marvin Joseph