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Harris Theater Presents the World Premiere of Emancipation by Adrian Dunn Featuring The Adrian Dunn Singers and Rize Orchestra

April 29, 2022

The Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance presents Emancipation by Adrian Dunn with the The Adrian Dunn Singers and Rize Orchestra on the HTP Mainstage on Friday, April 29, 2022 at 7:30PM. Tickets are $20 – $140 and are available at harristheaterchicago.org/performance/emancipation-adrian-dunn.

Emancipation is the second installment in the trilogy cycle composed by Adrian Dunn exploring Black life in America, through genres created by Black Americans. The program will be performed by The Adrian Dunn Singers and Rize Orchestra, all-Black professional ensembles founded by Dunn and dedicated to transforming classical music and the music industry at large. This performance of Emancipation marks the first time that an all-Black professional orchestra has played at the Harris Theater. This historic moment will be filmed and recorded for a live album.

In Dunn’s words: “As a classically trained musician, there were things in my childhood that I was forced to discard about my musical upbringing and identity. Emancipation is me going back and getting all of those things and bringing them to the concert stage. My inspiration for this piece includes Black sacred texts of Maya Angelou, Kanye West, Tupac, Marlon Riggs, James Baldwin, and Audre Lorde, to name a few.”

What does it mean to be Black and free in America in the 21st century? Emancipation seeks the answers to that question through an exploration of love, loss, queerness, Black liberation, and the human experience. 

Following the stage premiere of Emancipation, Dunn will lead The Adrian Dunn Singers in a one-hour matinee performance for children and families on Saturday, April 30 at 2 p.m., featuring excerpts from Emancipation and Redemption, the first installment of the trilogy. Tickets and information about the Family Series performance are available at harristheaterchicago.org/performance/adrian-dunn-singers. Tickets start at $10. The Harris Theater Box Office is open for phone support 12–5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and on performance days. To reach the Box Office, call 312.334.7777 or email info@harristheaterchicago.org.

About Adrian Dunn
Adrian Dunn is an accomplished singer, composer, and conductor. Mr. Dunn holds a Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degree in Voice from The Music Conservatory at Roosevelt University with additional musical studies in opera at The Sibelius Academy of Music in Finland. In 2021 Mr. Dunn won The American Prize in Composition for Requiem from The Mass for the Unarmed Child and was named in the Top 10 Classical Music & Jazz performances of 2021 by Chicago Tribune. He made his conducting debut with The Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra in June 2021. His interview on his original composition The Black Messiah was published in the Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. He and The Adrian Dunn Singers performed the film score for the 2022 Sundance film, Honk for Jesus starring Sterling K. Brown (from the NBC show “This Is Us”) and Regina Hall. Mr. Dunn is writing his first full length opera, The 42 Project, on the life of Black Major League Baseball star Jackie Robinson. Mr. Dunn’s trilogy cycle second installment Emancipation will get its world premiere at the Harris Theater in April featuring The Adrian Dunn Singers and The Rize Orchestra. His composition Requiem was performed by the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and the Morehouse Glee Club in March 2022. He was the chorus conductor for the Mozart Requiem with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra and was a guest artist in residence at California State University Fullerton.  Mr. Dunn is a MacArthur grant recipient for his original work Hopera: A Hip Hop Opera. He has sung with the Chicago Symphony Chorus, Grant Park Symphony Chorus and was the 2019 composer in residence for the Lyric Unlimited education program. He was the tenor soloist for Handel’s Messiah at Rockefeller Chapel in 2019 and was the tenor soloist for Puccini’s Messa di Gloria with the Northwestern University Orchestra. He has opened for international Hip Hop Recording Artist The Roots at Indiana University. He served as principle vocal coach for Kanye West’s artist development program Donda’s House. He was a featured artist and vocal coach for the live DVD recording of the Higher Ground Gospel Choir in Helsinki, Finland. He has toured throughout the US, South Africa, Italy, Germany, the UK, and Scandinavia. He is a voice faculty member in the Theater Conservatory at Roosevelt University. Mr. Dunn’s private voice students can be seen in Broadway National tours of Lion King, Hamilton, Color Purple, Kinky Boots, BET’s show Sunday Best, Drury Lane Theater, The Paramount Theater, Black Ensemble Theater, and as background vocalists for major record label artists on tour throughout the US and abroad.

About the Adrian Dunn Singers
The Adrian Dunn Singers is a group of 12 professional singers of diverse musical backgrounds based in Chicago. Members of group have trained at some of the top conservatories & Universities in America. They recently performed at the Thomas Dorsey National Convention of Gospel Choirs & Choruses in Dallas & were recently included in the Art Institute of Chicago’s “Prayer ” exhibit. In addition to recording the Revelations Album, they have performed for the Payne Theological Seminary presidential inauguration in 2017 & provided music for the 2018 commencement exercises. The group recently made their National Cathedral Debut and have toured to Orlando, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Indianapolis.

About Rize Orchestra
Founded in 2019, the Rize Orchestra seeks to address the lack of diversity that is often found within the orchestral world. The organization is a brainchild of Dunn and its purpose is two-fold: In addition to providing a national platform for the host of working musicians in Chicago, IL, the group also seeks to provide performance opportunities, mentorship and recording experience for collegiate musicians who would not otherwise readily receive that level of exposure. All African-American students who are enrolled at any of the colleges or conservatories within the Chicagoland area are automatically granted membership within Rize. At the start of 2021, the group entered into a partnership with the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. Each year, the orchestra will present two full concerts and two masterclasses.

“The Rize Orchestra is an all-black professional ensemble dedicated to the advancement of radical change in the classical and music industry complex,” says Dunn. “We need this change at a time like this to change the narrative that Black musicians aren’t visible in American orchestras. The Rize orchestra seeks to disrupt the way that we audition, we play and the attention or value we give to living Black composers. Black music is a reflection of Black life, therefore Black music matters. The Rize Orchestra will carry that message forward into the future: Black music matters, Black musicians matters, our lives matter.”

About the Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater
The Harris Theater is Chicago’s home for music and dance, connecting diverse audiences with artists from across the city, the nation, and the world. Opened in 2003 in Millennium Park, the Theater was the first multi-use performance venue built in downtown Chicago since 1929, and fulfilled the city’s need for a shared home for mid-size performing arts organizations. Today, the Harris features some of the most diverse arts and culture offerings of any venue in the city, and is a distinctive model for artistic quality, collaboration, and making the performing arts relevant and accessible to the widest possible audience. Founded on the principle of serving Chicago’s vibrant creative community, the Theater is the home venue of more than 25 not-for-profit arts and culture organizations. The Harris Theater Presents series has featured world-renowned artists and ensembles including Laurie Anderson, Batsheva Dance, English National Ballet, Joshua Bell, Renée Fleming, Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir, Angélique Kidjo, and Paris Opéra Ballet. The Theater’s community engagement initiatives build bridges between artists and community members, providing master classes, artist talks, and free tickets for more than 35 partner organizations throughout Chicago. To learn more about the Harris Theater, Chicago’s state-of-the-art 1,500-seat performance venue in Millennium Park, visit harristheaterchicago.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


April 29, 2022