FRIDAY, MAY 19, 2017 at 7:30 P.M.

Last Stop on Bicentennial Spring Tour Will Feature 
Joel Thompson’s Seven Last Words of the Unarmed

America’s oldest public college glee club sings new #BlackLivesMatter anthem

On Friday, May 19, 2017 at 7:30, Classical Movements presents the 80-strong, 158-year-old University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club (UMMGC) at National City Christian Church in Washington, D.C. during their U.S. tour. Under the direction of Dr. Eugene Rogers, the men from Ann Arbor will perform a diverse, expertly curated program, highlighted by Atlanta-based composer Joel Thompson‘s powerful opus, Seven Last Words of the Unarmed.

Performed in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Soweto, Stellenbosch and Cape Town during UMMGC’s South African tour last May (their 4th overall with Classical Movements) and orchestrated for this February’s 20th anniversary of the Sphinx Competition, Thompson’s work — featured in the documentary Love, Life & Losscommemorates the lives of seven African-American men tragically lost at the hands of authority figures: Kenneth Chamberlain, Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo, Michael Brown, Oscar Grant, John Crawford and Eric Garner. Setting these men’s own final words to music, Seven Last Words of the Unarmed aims to evoke meaningful and thoughtful discussion through gripping and engaging performance.


Seven Last Words of the Unarmed for male chorus, strings and piano (2015)

I. Kenneth Chamberlain, 66
“Officers, why do you have your guns out?”
II. Trayvon Martin, 16
“What are you following me for?”
III. Amadou Diallo, 23
“Mom, I’m going to college.”
IV. Michael Brown, 18
“I don’t have a gun! STOP!”
V. Oscar Grant, 22
“You shot me!”
VI. John Crawford, 22
“It’s not real.”
VII. Eric Garner, 43
“I can’t breathe.”

According to Mr. Thompson, the composition process, itself, was cathartic:

I wanted to process my personal feelings about being a young black man in this very racially tense time we’re living in. I also wanted to figure out a universal way to remember these men who had lost their lives too soon.”

And as Dr. Rogers, himself, notes:

Great art should provoke thought and critical discourse, engage the audience and build a safe, strong sense of community through the exploration of important issues. This is why I choose to include repertoire in my programming that focuses on themes surrounding social justice.”

Click here to purchase tickets ($10–30) via Eventbrite.

Founded in 1859, the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club is one of the oldest collegiate choruses in the United States — the oldest continually-run student organization on campus. Four-time winner of Wales’ Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, UMMGC has garnered further international accolades touring Asia, Europe, South America, Australia and, most recently, Cuba and South Africa. Back home, the Club has performed everywhere from Lincoln Center to Kennedy Center to the 1984 World Series. With numerous recordings to its name, in 2001, UMMGC was featured on Manheim Steamroller’s double-platinum disc, Christmas Extraordinaire.

Joel Thompson is a composer, pianist, conductor and educator in Atlanta. His latest work, Seven Last Words of the Unarmed, was premiered in November of 2015 by UMMGC, under Dr. Rogers. Director of Choral Studies and Assistant Professor of Music at Andrew College from 2013–15, he currently teaches at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School. A proud alumnus of Emory University (B.A. Music, 2010; M.M. Choral Conducting, 2013), his teachers include: Eric Nelson, William Ransom, Laura Gordy, John Anthony Lennon, Kevin Puts, Robert Aldridge and Scott Stewart.

Recognized as a leading singer, conductor and pedagogue, Eugene Rogers has appeared throughout the United States, as well as in Africa, Canada, China, Singapore, England, Portugal, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Mexico, Spain and Italy. Currently, Dr. Rogers is Associate Director of Choirs at the University of Michigan, where he teaches undergraduate conducting, conducts the Men’s Glee Club and University Choir and is faculty director of the MPulse Vocal Arts Institute, a national high school summer program. In 2013, Rogers co-managed the release of Ye Shall Have a Song, featuring the Michigan, Yale and Harvard Glee Clubs — a collaboration celebrating America’s three oldest collegiate choirs. The Naxos recording of Darius Milhaud’s monumental L’Orestie d’Eschyle, on which Rogers served as a chorus master, was nominated for a 2015 Grammy (Best Opera Recording). Also in 2015, Mark Foster Publishing began the Eugene Rogers Choral Series, highlighting emerging composers who specialize in contemporary classical and folk music traditions. The American Choral Directors Association’s first-ever National Chair of Diversity Issues, Rogers also serves on the board of the National Collegiate Choral Organization and is the “ChoralQuest” series editor for the American Composers Forum. Dr. Rogers holds a Bachelor of Arts in Choral Music Education from the University of Illinois and both the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in Choral Conducting from the University of Michigan.

About Classical Movements:

Moving the Music, Changing the World

The premier concert tour company for the world’s great orchestras and choirs, Classical Movements creates meaningful cultural experiences through music in 145 countries. An industry leader for over a quarter-century, Classical Movements fully understands both the travel and the performance needs of professional symphonies and choruses, as well as conservatory, university and youth ensembles. Producer of two international choral festivals — Serenade! in Washington, D.C. and Ihlombe! in South Africa — and the Prague Summer Nights: Young Artists Music Festival, in addition, Classical Movements organizes more than 60 tours every year, producing some 200 concerts every season. Distinguished clients include many of America’s top-tier orchestras (Baltimore, Cincinnati, Minnesota, National, New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, etc.), international ensembles like the London Philharmonic, Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar, Royal Concertgebouw, Wiener Philharmoniker and celebrated soloists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Lang Lang and Joshua Bell. Also, Classical Movements’ Eric Daniel Helms New Music Program has commissioned over 50 works from Grammy, Oscar and Pulitzer Prize-winning composers. Winner of Americans for the Arts’ BCA10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts Award, since its founding 25 years ago, as a truly global company, Classical Movements remains committed to facilitating cultural diplomacy across the world — promoting peace through the medium of music.


Logan K. Young, Marketing and Public Relations Manager

+1 (703) 683–6040