National Philharmonic Celebrates Black History Month With ‘Black Classical Music Pioneers’


North Bethesda, Md.— The National Philharmonic celebrates Black History Month with “Black Classical Music Pioneers” on Saturday, February 22, 2020 at 8 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore located at 5301 Tuckerman Lane in North Bethesda, Maryland.

The concert will be performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Philharmonic Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski, who will be joined by features soloist and Sphinx Competition winner violinist Melissa White, a founding member of the highly acclaimed Harlem Quartet, with which she has toured globally since the quartet’s founding in 2006. Most recently, she was named featured soloist on the soundtrack of the 2019 horror film, “Us.”

The evening will feature musical works by some of the most prolific African American composers of the 20th and 21st centuries, including: Wynton Marsalis’ Wild Strumming of Fiddle; Florence Price’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major; George Walker’s Lyric for Strings; and William Grant Still’s Symphony No. 1 (Afro-American).

In this exciting program, European musical forms gain a new vibrancy through the influence of African-American traditions and the blending of classical and popular styles. Wild Strumming of Fiddle, by Wynton Marsalis (born 1961), comes from a remarkable 12-movement work that fuses jazz and symphonic music to create a dizzying array of sounds, rhythms, and melodies. The Violin Concerto No. 1 by Florence Price (1887-1953) is a highly accomplished work in the models of the European classical concerto, by the first African-American woman to be widely recognized as a symphonic composer. The Lyric for Strings by George Walker (1922-2018), the first African-American composer to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music, is a work of intimate beauty. The Symphony No. 1 by William Grant Still (1895-1978) is the first symphony written by an African-American composer. Its subtitle (“Afro-American”) points to the unique style of the work, which includes elements of blues and jazz.

A pre-concert lecture will take place at 6:45 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. Ticket prices are $29–$79, free for young people 7–17, and $10 for college students. There is a new 25-percent discount for military and veterans.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit