Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Announces Complete Details for Classical Roots April 19

John Morris Russell to Conduct the CSO in Annual Concert and Celebration of the Black Musical Experience 

Program to Highlight Black Voices in Poetry, Verse, Rhyme and Reason 

Guest Artists to Include:
Classical Roots Community Choir
Rapper and Producer Tony “Hi-Tek” Cottrell
Narrator and Rapper Noah Hawes
Poet Laureate of Cincinnati Yalie Saweda Kamara
Youth Poet Laureate of Cincinnati Gabrielle Walker
Young Musicians of the CSO’s Nouveau Program

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CINCINNATI, OH (March 15, 2024)— The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) announced complete details for its Classical Roots concert on April 19, 7:30 p.m. at Music Hall. John Morris Russell will conduct the Orchestra and Classical Roots Community Choir, directed by Jason Alexander Holmes, in a program inspired by the spoken word, including American poet Langston Hughes, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and original poetry written and spoken by Poet Laureate of Cincinnati Yalie Saweda Kamara and Youth Poet Laureate of Cincinnati Gabrielle Walker, among others.

The program will include music by composers William Grant Still, and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, as well as choral works by Rosephanye Powell and Richard Smallwood. Highlights of the program include music from the Tony Award-winning musical and newly adapted film The Color Purple and a gospel and hip-hop tribute to the 200th anniversary of Friedrich Schiller’s “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. This year’s performance of Classical Roots also includes rapper and narrator Noah Hawes, as well as young musicians of the CSO’s Nouveau Program, coached by Marion Peraza.

The featured guest on the program will be internationally renowned, and Cincinnati’s own, multi-platinum producer and rapper Hi-Tek, making his orchestral debut with the CSO. One of urban music’s most dynamic and prolific producers, Hi-Tek has collaborated with many of the biggest names in the music industry, including Common, Dr. Dre, Talib Kweli and Mos Def. Hi-Tek was inducted into Cincinnati’s Black Music Hall of Fame during the 2022 Cincinnati Music Festival, and continues to make Cincinnati his home. A suite of his most popular works, including “Respiration,” “The Sun God,” “Round and Round,” “Music For Life,” “Move Something,” “The Blast,” and “Come Down,” has been specially orchestrated for this concert.

“The confluence of talent we have brought together for this years’ concert is inspirational, and together, expresses the enduring power of the spoken word,” said Russell. “From Biblical texts of King David to oratory, poetry and rap, we celebrate the broad and sweeping story of the Black experience set to extraordinary music and the brilliant musicianship of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. It will be a concert of eloquence and joy!”


Tickets for Classical Roots are currently on sale with tickets starting at $15. To purchase tickets, visit or call the Box Office at 513.381.3300, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Free Livestream

In addition to the in-person performance, the concert will be livestreamed for free on the CSO’s YouTube channel, as part of the Orchestra’s mission serve the greater community and provide greater access to CSO performances and programs.