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Music of First Black Graduate of the Eastman School of Music to be Performed

R. Nathaniel Dett

The Rochester Oratorio Society (ROS) will perform “The Ordering of Moses” at Hochstein Performance Hall in Rochester on Thursday, Oct. 13 at 7:30 p.m.

The piece is by R. Nathaniel Dett, who was the first Black graduate of the Eastman School of Music (ESM), president of the Rochester NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), and director of music at Trinity Presbyterian (now Trinity Emmanuel) and Two Saints Episcopal churches. He was also a mentor to Rochester’s William Warfield.

Dett completed “The Ordering of Moses” in 1937, having begun it as his master’s thesis at Eastman. The oratorio’s rich, emotional orchestration offers a symbolist portrait of Moses from the burning bush up to his deliverance of the Israelites through the Red Sea.

The concert will feature Eastman graduates Alexis Peart, Holden Turner, and Christina Faye, as well as School of the Arts graduate Emmett Tross. Sarah Joyce Cooper and Thomas Warfield round out the cast of featured artists.

The ROS Chorus and Orchestra will be joined by the the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, Canada’s first professional choral group dedicated to Afrocentric music of all styles, and their director, Brainerd Blyden-Taylor, as well as The Roberts Wesleyan Chorale, directed by Adam Potter.

The Rochester Oratorio Society, founded in 1945 is the region’s leading choral ensemble. The Oratorio Society has toured the world, commissioned and premiered major works and collaborated with the region’s finest vocalists, instrumentalists and ensembles. The organization produces four to six performances annually as well as the Rochester International Vocal Competition each spring.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for seniors and students, and are available at or at (585) 743-2234. Advance ticket purchases are strongly encouraged.


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