Festival Artist Biographies

New World Symphony presents
I Dream a World: The Harlem Renaissance and Beyond
February 1-5, 2022




Michael Tilson Thomas is Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy; Music Director Laureate of the San Francisco Symphony; and Conductor Laureate of the London Symphony Orchestra. In addition to these posts, he maintains an active presence guest conducting with the major orchestras of Europe and the United States. 

Born in Los Angeles, Mr. Tilson Thomas is the third generation of his family to follow an artistic career. His grandparents, Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky, were founding members of the Yiddish Theater in America. His father, Ted Thomas, was a producer in the Mercury Theater Company in New York before moving to Los Angeles where he worked in films and television. His mother, Roberta Thomas, was the head of research for Columbia Pictures. 


Mr. Tilson Thomas began his formal studies at the University of Southern California, where he studied piano with John Crown, and conducting and composition with Ingolf Dahl. At age 19 he was named Music Director of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra. During this same period, he was the pianist and conductor in master classes of Gregor Piatigorsky and Jascha Heifetz and worked with Stravinsky, Boulez, Stockhausen and Copland on premieres of their compositions at Los Angeles’ Monday Evening Concerts. 

In 1969, after winning the Koussevitzky Prize at Tanglewood, he was appointed Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. That year he also made his New York debut with the Boston Symphony and gained international recognition after replacing Music Director William Steinberg in mid-concert. He was later appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra where he remained until 1974. He was Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic from 1971 to 1979 and a Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1981 to 1985. His guest conducting includes appearances with the major orchestras of Europe and the United States.

Mr. Tilson Thomas is a two-time Carnegie Hall Perspectives artist, curating and conducting series at the hall from 2003 to 2005 and from 2018 to 2019. In the most recent series, he led Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America both at the hall and on tour in Asia, opened the Carnegie Hall season over two evenings with the San Francisco Symphony, conducted two programs with the Vienna Philharmonic and finished with a pair of concerts leading the New World Symphony. 

A winner of eleven Grammy Awards, Mr. Tilson Thomas appears on more than 120 recordings. His discography includes The Mahler Project, a collection of the composer’s complete symphonies and works for voice and orchestra performed with the San Francisco Symphony, in addition to pioneering recordings of music by Charles Ives, Carl Ruggles, Steve Reich, John Cage, Ingolf Dahl, Morton Feldman, George Gershwin, John McLaughlin and Elvis Costello. His recordings span repertoire from Bach and Beethoven to Debussy and Stravinsky, and from Sarah Vaughan to Metallica. 

His television work includes a series with the London Symphony Orchestra for BBC Television, broadcasts of the New York Philharmonic Young People’s Concerts from 1971 to 1977 and numerous productions on PBS’s Great Performances. With the San Francisco Symphony, he created a multi-tiered media project, Keeping Score, which includes a television series, web sites, and radio programs. He received a Peabody Award for his SFS Media radio series The MTT Files. 

Mr. Tilson Thomas’s compositions are published by G. Schirmer. In 1991, he and the New World Symphony were presented in a series of benefit concerts for UNICEF in the United States, featuring Audrey Hepburn as narrator of his work From the Diary of Anne Frank, which was commissioned by UNICEF. This piece has since been translated and performed in many languages worldwide. In August 1995, he led the Pacific Music Festival Orchestra in the premiere of his composition Shówa/Shoáh, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. His vocal music includes settings of poetry by Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, which were premiered by Thomas Hampson and Renée Fleming, respectively. In 2016, Yuja Wang premiered his piano piece You Come Here Often?. 

Mr. Tilson Thomas' song cycle Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind, a setting of Carl Sandburg’s poem, was premiered in 2016 by the New World Symphony, with Measha Brueggergosman as soloist. In 2019 the piece was recorded for Medici.tv at the New World Center and given its New York premiere as part of Mr. Tilson Thomas’s second Carnegie Hall Perspectives series. His first Perspectives series also featured performances of his own compositions, including Island Music for four marimbas and percussion; Notturno for solo flute and strings, featuring soloist Paula Robison; and new settings of poems by Rainer Maria Rilke. In 2020, he led the San Francisco Symphony in the world premiere of his six-part song cycle Meditations on Rilke, and he subsequently conducted the work at the Cleveland Orchestra. Additional compositions include Street Song for brass instruments; Agnegram, an overture for orchestra; and Urban Legend, a concerto for contrabassoon that was premiered by the San Francisco Symphony. In June 2020, SFS Media released an album of works composed by Mr. Tilson Thomas, featuring live concert recordings of From the Diary of Anne Frank, narrated by mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, and Meditations on Rilke, sung by mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and bass-baritone Ryan McKinny. 

Mr. Tilson Thomas is an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France, is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, was Musical America’s Musician of the Year and Conductor of the Year, was Gramophone magazine’s Artist of the Year and has been profiled on CBS’s 60 Minutes and ABC’s Nightline. He has been awarded the National Medal of Arts, has been inducted into the California Hall of Fame and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and was a 2019 recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors. 


Michelle Bradley

Michelle Bradley, a graduate of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, is beginning to garner great acclaim as one of today’s most promising Verdi sopranos.

This season Ms. Bradley makes her debut with the Lyric Opera of Chicago as the title role in Tosca and returns to the Metropolitan Opera as Liù in Turandot. In concert, she will debut with the San Francisco Symphony as the soprano soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and with the Atlanta Symphony as the title-role in Act 3 of Aida. She will also be heard in a pair of solo recitals for the San Diego Opera with Brian Zeger at the piano. Future projects include a debut with then San Francisco Opera and returns to The Metropolitan Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago, all in leading roles.


Last season, Ms. Bradley made debuts with the Prague State Opera as the title role in Aida and in recital with the Houston Grand Opera and Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. She also appeared in concert with the Dallas Symphony in a program of gospel and in a gala concert with the San Diego Opera.

Previously Ms. Bradley made debuts with the Vienna State Opera as Leonora in Il trovatore (a role debut), San Diego Opera as the title-role in Aida and returned to The Metropolitan Opera for their New Year’s Eve Gala as Liù in Act II of Turandot. She appeared in solo recital at the Kennedy Center and performed Barber’s Knoxville, Summer of 1915 with the New World Symphony.

Ms. Bradley is the 2017 recipient of the Leonie Rysanek Award from the George London Foundation, the 2016 recipient of the Hildegard Behrens Foundation Award, and a first-place winner in the Gerda Lissner and the Serge and Olga Koussevitzky vocal competitions. She is the 2014 grand prize winner of the Music Academy of the West’s Marilyn Horne Song Competition.

Ms. Bradley received her master of music degree in Vocal Performance from Bowling Green State University. She has participated in master classes with Stephanie Blythe, Anne Sofie von Otter, Marilyn Horne, Deborah Voigt, James Morris and Renata Scotto.



Nathaniel Cadle is a Wolfsonian Public Humanities Lab Fellow and Associate Professor of English at Florida International University, where he teaches late 19th- and early 20th-century American literature. He is the author of The Mediating Nation: Late American Realism, Globalization and the Progressive State, which explores the role literary realism played in shaping Progressive-era political and social discourse.


Michelle Cann

“A compelling, sparkling virtuoso” (Boston Music Intelligencer), pianist Michelle Cann made her orchestral debut at age 14 and has since performed as a soloist with numerous orchestras including The Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony and New Jersey Symphony.

A champion of the music of Florence Price, Ms. Cann performed the New York City premiere of the composer’s Piano Concerto in One Movement with The Dream Unfinished Orchestra in 2016 and the Philadelphia premiere with The Philadelphia Orchestra in February 2021, which The Philadelphia Inquirer called “exquisite.”  


Highlights of Ms. Cann’s 2021–22 season include debut performances with the Atlanta, Detroit and St. Louis symphonies, as well as her Canadian concert debut with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa. She also receives the 2022 Sphinx Medal of Excellence, the highest honor bestowed by the Sphinx Organization, and the 2022 Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award. Embracing a dual role as both performer and pedagogue, Ms. Cann’s season includes teaching residencies at the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival and the National Conference of the Music Teachers National Association.

Ms. Cann regularly appears in solo and chamber recitals throughout the U.S., China and South Korea. Notable venues include the National Centre for the Performing Arts (Beijing), the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, D.C.), Walt Disney Concert Hall (Los Angeles) and the Barbican (London). She has also appeared as cohost and collaborative pianist with NPR’s From the Top.

An award winner at top international competitions, Ms. Cann served as the Cincinnati Symphony’s MAC Music Innovator in 2019 in recognition of her role as an African-American classical musician who embodies artistry, innovation and a commitment to education and community engagement.

Ms. Cann studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music and Curtis Institute of Music, where she holds the inaugural Eleanor Sokoloff Chair in Piano Studies.




Shawn Anthony Christian, Associate Professor of English, teaches American and African American literature at Florida International University. He also lectures and writes on 20th-century, African American literary and print culture, especially during the Harlem Renaissance. His book The Harlem Renaissance and the Idea of a New Negro Reader examines how writers and editors cultivated and engaged Black readers during the period.



Wesley Ducote is a second-year Piano Fellow at the New World Symphony. Hailing from Houston, he has led a versatile musical career pursuing a diverse set of interests.

As a collaborator, Mr. Ducote has been featured with many of today’s brightest stars including composer/vocalist Kate Soper, Emmy Award-winning composer and Vietnamese folk musician Van Anh Vo, flutists Leone Buyse and Carol Wincenc, soprano Ana Maria Martinez, and many others. He has served as principal keyboardist with the Shepherd School Symphony and Houston Grand Opera Orchestra. As a chamber musician he has been a featured artist with MUSIQA and the Nantucket Rossini Club, and in 2017 was selected by the Shepherd School of Music to perform with the Gyldfeldt quartet from Leipzig. Mr. Ducote has even worked as a keyboardist/composer in his own jazz-fusion sextet Steve Cox’s Beard.


An enthusiastic performer of new and contemporary music, Mr. Ducote has premiered over 40 new works and worked with faculty at institutions in China, South Korea, Canada and all over the United States. His new music experience includes works for solo piano, chamber ensembles, orchestra and even a piano concerto written for him. He is currently working on an upcoming commissioning project of new solo piano music.

Mr. Ducote is an Artist Fellow with the Louis Moreau Institute and was a Young Artist Fellow with Da Camera of Houston, Resident Piano Fellow with the Cortona Sessions for New Music, and a fellow with CPI at the Composer’s Conference, SICPP, Encore Chamber Music, Round Top Festival Institute and Aspen Music Festival. Mr. Ducote holds graduate and undergraduate degrees in music from Rice University, where he studied with Brian Connelly, as well as an undergraduate degree in mathematics.


Dr. Samantha Ege

Dr Samantha Ege is the Lord Crewe Junior Research Fellow in Music at Lincoln College, University of Oxford. She holds a PhD in Musicology from the University of York and a BA with honors in Music from the University of Bristol. She spent her second undergraduate year at McGill University as an exchange student. She taught music internationally for almost a decade after graduating from Bristol. She joined Lincoln College in 2020.

Dr Ege is a leading interpreter and scholar of the African American composer Florence B. Price. Dr Ege's performances and publications shed an important light on composers from underrepresented backgrounds. In 2021 she received the American Musicological Society's Noah Greenberg Award for her recording project on five female composer-pianists from the Black Renaissance era. In 2019 she received both the Society for American Music’s Eileen Southern Fellowship and a Newberry Library Short-Term Residential Fellowship for her work on women's contributions to concert life in interwar Chicago. Dr Ege's first book is called South Side Impresarios: Race Women in the Realm of Music (University of Illinois Press, under contract). She has been contracted as co-author alongside Douglas Shadle of Price (Master Musicians Series, Oxford University Press) and co-editor alongside A. Kori Hill of The Cambridge Companion to Florence B. Price (Cambridge University Press).


As a concert pianist, Dr Ege made her Barbican debut in 2021 in which she gave the UK premiere of Vítězslava Kaprálová's Sonata Appassionata. In her London debut at the 2021 London Festival of American Music she gave the world premiere of Florence Price's complete Fantasie Nègre set. In 2018 she made her international lecture-recitalist debut at the Chicago Symphony Center with her event "A Celebration of Women in Music: Composing the Black Chicago Renaissance." She has additionally presented her research and repertoire at a number of other institutions and venues in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

Dr Ege released her debut album in May 2018 with Wave Theory Records, called Four Women: Music for solo piano by Florence Price, Vítězslava Kaprálová, Ethel Bilsland and Margaret Bonds. The album featured the world premiere recording of Bilsland’s The Birthday Party, which led to Dr Ege preparing an edition of the suite, now published by Faber Music. She released her critically acclaimed second album in March 2021, called Fantasie Nègre: The Piano Music of Florence Price, with Lorelt (Lontano Records Ltd.). Her third album (also with Lorelt) is called Black Renaissance Woman and will be released in early 2022.



Yvette N. Harris is the Founder + CEO of the purpose-driven boutique public relations company Harris Public Relations. The tagline for her company is Community Minded, Culturally Driven. Indeed she is the go-to-publicist who has her finger on the pulse of today's ever-changing media landscape. This standout strategic pr strategist has been orchestrating a quiet revolution within the public relations industry for over 25 years. This native New Yorker began her public relations career with the United States Environmental Protection Agency. She managed the public relations activities for the Superfund program.

Ms. Harris’ passion + commitment to generating newsworthy and thoughtful storytelling for black and brown communities is the foundation of what drives her daily.


Her company's solid national and international track record in the arts and culture, community and business is one she is very proud of. Her impressive national and global footprint of past and current clients includes the Miami Carnival, Black Tech Week, House of Mandela Wine, Urgent Inc., Special Olympics Miami-Dade-Florida, Art Africa Miami, MTV Music Awards, The American Black Film Festival, Microsoft Legacy Project and the 56th Annual Selma Jubilee, to name a few.

A testament to her dedication to public service and diversity of arts and culture, Ms. Harris serves as a Miami Broward One Carnival board member. She has been instrumental in the planning of the Miami Carnival since 2003. She has played a vital role in obtaining sponsorship, shaping media impressions and cultivating key strategic relationships to help build brands.

Ms. Harris also serves on the grant review panel for the Miami -Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs. In addition, she enjoys speaking to youth organizations and participating in numerous community initiatives. Ms. Harris is a proud and involved mother of her beautiful daughter, Nya, whom she deems her most significant accomplishment.


Dr. Tammy Kernodle

Dr. Tammy L. Kernodle graduated with a bachelor of music degree in choral music education and piano from Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia. She received a master of arts and PhD in music history from The Ohio State University. Her scholarship and teaching have been primarily in the areas of African American music (classical and popular), jazz, and gender and popular music. She served as the Scholar in Residence for the Women in Jazz Initiative at the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City (1999-2001) and has worked closely with a number of educational programs including the Kennedy Center’s Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival, Jazz@Lincoln Center, NPR, Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame Lecture series and the BBC.


Dr. Kernodle’s work has appeared in American Studies, Musical Quarterly, Black Music Research Journal, The Journal of the Society of American Music, American Music Research Journal, The U.S Catholic Historian, The African American Lectionary Project and numerous anthologies. She is the author of biography Soul on Soul: The Life and Music of Mary Lou Williams and served as Associate Editor of the three-volume Encyclopedia of African American Music. She served as a scholarly consultant for the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s inaugural exhibits entitled “Musical Crossroads” and appears in a number of award-winning documentaries including Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band and Girls in the Band and recently Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool. In 2014 she received the Effective Educator Award from the Miami University Alumni Association and in 2018 was awarded the Benjamin Harrison Medallion. The Harrison Award is the highest award given to a Miami University faculty member in recognition of their research, teaching and service. She is currently the President of the Society for American Music.



Christopher Norwood J.D. is on the editorial board of The International Review of African American Art and is the Principal of Norwood Consulting. He has 25 years of experience working with Human Service Agencies as a consultant, Board member, employee and volunteer. He is a graduate of Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia where he studied social work and community organization. Mr. Norwood pursued a master of public administration degree at Cornell University's Institute for Public Affairs and his Juris Doctorate from St. Thomas University School of Law.

Mr. Norwood is a community organizer, passionately involved but strategically focused. His network ranges across the spectrum of human services. His involvement is particularly strong in children's issues and development. He is a founding Board member of Florida Memorial University's Social Work Program. He is the Past Chair of the Council on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys (appointed by Former Speaker Marco Rubio of the Florida House of Representatives in 2007). He is a member of Miami-Dade Public Schools' Audit and Budget Committee and City of Miami's Education Advisory Board. He is the Founder of the Florida Association of Independent Public Schools and the Governance Institute for School Accountability.



O, Miami builds community through literature. It produces a poetry festival, a publishing imprint, an educational program, a podcast and other initiatives that expand access to literature in Miami and re-think the role of the literary arts in society. O, Miami values inclusiveness and strives to create an environment where everyone's voice is heard and everyone's statements are met with respect. It values diversity across a spectrum of identities, including but not limited to race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, religion and ability. It recognizes access to information as a basic human right. Founded by Executive Director P. Scott Cunningham, O, Miami is funded by the John S. and James L. Foundation and based at The Betsy Hotel on Miami Beach. More information at omiami.org.



Prize-winning pianist and native Texan Thomas Steigerwald is a third-year Piano Fellow at the New World Symphony. A medal winner in the Wideman, New York, Dallas Chamber Symphony and San Jose International piano competitions, he holds a master's degree from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Matti Raekallio, and a bachelor's degree from Eastman School of Music under the tutelage of Douglas Humpherys.

A 2013 Music Teacher’s National Association Young Artist prize winner, Mr. Steigerwald has pursued a multifaceted career of solo performance, chamber music and orchestral piano. He made his orchestral debut at age 18, performing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the San Antonio Symphony. He performed Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the National Repertory Orchestra in Breckenridge, Colorado during its 2019 summer festival. In 2019 he collaborated with violist Brett Deubner for 20 concerts in their second tour of China. Mr. Steigerwald premiered Cosme McMoon’s newly discovered piano concerto Rondo espagnol in 2018, giving performances with the Youth Orchestra of San Antonio at the Tobin Center and New World Symphony.


Representing the Eastman School of Music, Mr. Steigerwald performed Balakirev’s Islamey at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage in Washington, D.C. in 2014. He performed Martin’s Piano Quintet in the Round Top Festival’s 2016 Chamber Honors Recital. In 2015 he performed Franck’s Piano Quintet in the Eastman School’s Chamber Honors Recital. He has also performed chamber works with Ransom Wilson, Maxim Kozlov, the Delphi Trio, Christiano Rodrigues, Anton Rist and Gretchen Pusch. Conductors with whom he has performed include Michael Tilson Thomas, Gustavo Dudamel, Brad Lubman, Emmanuel Villaume, Perry So, Thomas Adès and Gerard Schwarz.



Praised by The New York Times as “a superb pianist, a thoughtful, sensitive performer” and Fou Ts’ong as “an incredible talent with a natural feeling of harmony and imagination,” pianist Zhu Wang’s engaging performances exhibit a remarkable depth of musicianship and poise. Winner of the 2020 Young Concert Artists International Audition, he was awarded the Stern Young Artist Development Award, which is supported by the Linda and Isaac Stern Foundation. Mr. Wang showcases his artistry as both a passionate soloist and dedicated chamber musician.

Mr. Wang’s upcoming season includes solo recital debuts at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall and The Kennedy Center, world premiere performances of a work for solo piano by Nina Shekhar, Florence Price’s Piano Concerto in One Movement with the Mississippi Symphony and appearances with violinist Randall Goosby in a San Francisco Symphony recital series and at 92nd Street Y and Merkin Hall.


Mr. Wang has performed across the U.S. and internationally at prestigious venues such as The Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Chamber Music Hall of the Berliner Philharmonie, Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall and Shanghai Concert Hall. Since his orchestral debut at age 14 with the Hilton Head Symphony, where he performed Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21, he has soloed with the Salzburg Chamber Soloists, Zermatt Music Festival Orchestra, Fort Worth Symphony, Brunensis Virtuosi Orchestra, San Juan Symphony and Xiamen Philharmonic.

As an avid chamber musician and new music advocate, Mr. Wang gave the world premiere of Timo Andres’s Moving Etudes (2017). He has performed in festivals such as Kneisel Hall, Four Seasons Chamber Music Workshop, Lake Como International Piano Academy, Shanghai International Piano Festival, Perlman Music Program and Music Academy of the West, where he won the solo piano competition.

A native of Hunan, China, Mr. Wang began learning piano at the age of five, when he trained at Music Middle School Affiliated to Shanghai Conservatory of Music with Zhe Tang and Fou Ts’ong. For his bachelor of music degree he continued his study at The Juilliard School, where he received Gina Bachauer and Mieczyslaw Munz Scholarship. He is currently pursuing his artist diploma at Curtis Institute of Music, under the guidance of Robert McDonald.


Thomas Wilkins

Thomas Wilkins is Principal Conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra; the Boston Symphony’s Artistic Advisor, Education and Community Engagement; Principal Guest Conductor of the Virginia Symphony; and holds Indiana University’s Henry A. Upper Chair of Orchestral Conducting established by the late Barbara and David Jacobs as part of that University’s “Matching the Promise Campaign.” He completed his long and successful tenure as Music Director of the Omaha Symphony at the close of the 2020-21 season. Other past positions have included resident conductor of the Detroit Symphony and Florida Orchestra (Tampa Bay) and associate conductor of the Richmond (VA) Symphony. He also has served on the music faculties of North Park University (Chicago), University of Tennessee in Chattanooga and Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

Devoted to promoting a life-long enthusiasm for music, Mr. Wilkins brings energy and commitment to audiences of all ages. He is hailed as a master at communicating and connecting with audiences. Following his highly successful first season with the Boston Symphony, The Boston Globe named him among the “Best People and Ideas of 2011.” In 2014 Mr. Wilkins received the prestigious “Outstanding Artist” award at the Nebraska Governor’s Arts Awards, for his significant contribution to music in the state, while in 2018 he received the Leonard Bernstein Lifetime Achievement Award for the Elevation of Music in Society conferred by Boston’s Longy School of Music. In 2019 the Virginia Symphony bestowed Mr. Wilkins with their annual Dreamer Award.


During his conducting career, Mr. Wilkins has led orchestras throughout the United States, including the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony and National Symphony. Additionally, he has guest conducted the Philadelphia and Cleveland orchestras; the symphonies of Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Baltimore, San Diego and Utah; and the Buffalo and Rochester philharmonics, as well as at the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago.

Mr. Wilkins’ commitment to community has been demonstrated by his participation on several boards of directors, including the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, Charles Drew Health Center (Omaha), Center Against Spouse Abuse in Tampa Bay, and Museum of Fine Arts as well as the Academy Preparatory Center, both in St. Petersburg, Florida. Currently he serves as chairman of the board for the Raymond James Charitable Endowment Fund and as national ambassador for the non-profit World Pediatric Project headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, which provides children throughout Central America and the Caribbean with critical surgical and diagnostic care. A native of Norfolk, Virginia, Mr. Wilkins is a graduate of the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music and New England Conservatory of Music. He and his wife Sheri-Lee are the proud parents of twin daughters, Erica and Nicole.



Kevin Young is the director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture and poetry editor of The New Yorker, where he hosts the poetry podcast. He was previously the director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Mr. Young is the author of 13 books of poetry and prose, including Brown (Knopf, 2018), as featured on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah; Blue Laws: Selected & Uncollected Poems 1995-2015 (Knopf, 2016), longlisted for the National Book Award; and Book of Hours (Knopf, 2014), a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize for Poetry from the Academy of American Poets. His collection Jelly Roll: a blues (Knopf, 2003) was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His newest book of poetry, described as “A book of loss, looking back and what binds us to life, by a towering poetic talent,” is Stones (Knopf, Sept. 21, 2021). He is also working on a children’s book titled Emile and the Field (RHCB/Make Me a World, March 15, 2022), illustrated by Chioma Ebinama.


Mr. Young’s second nonfiction book, Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News (Graywolf Press, 2017), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in Nonfiction, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, was longlisted for the National Book Award, and was named a New York Times Notable Book, a New York Times Book Review “Editors’ Choice” selection and a “Best Book of 2017” by NPR, Los Angeles Times, Dallas Morning News, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Smithsonian, Vogue, the Atlantic, Nylon, BuzzFeed and Electric Literature. Mr. Young’s previous nonfiction book, The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness (Graywolf Press, 2012), won the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize and the PEN Open Book Award; it was also a New York Times Notable Book for 2012 and a finalist for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism.

Mr. Young is the editor of nine other collections, including The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton, 1965- 2010 (BOA Editions, 2012) and The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink (Bloomsbury, 2012). He is the editor of the anthology African American Poetry 1770–2020: 250 Years of Struggle & Song (Library of America, 2020). He is series editor and wrote the introduction and forward for Unsung: Unheralded Narratives of American Slavery & Abolition.

Mr. Young is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was named a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2020. In March 2021 he was voted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in May he was elected as a Fellow of the Society of American Historians.


Ambassador Chorale of Florida Memorial University

The Ambassador Chorale of Florida Memorial University was founded by the late Professor Roosevelt Williams during the 1975-76 academic year with four eager members to officially represent the University as its public relations entity.

Today, under the direction of Dr. Argarita Johnson-Palavicini (“Dr. J”), the Chorale has upwards of 50 members that not only perform as an independent academic ensemble, but enjoy exposure to sight-reading, vocal technique, and performance pedagogy.


Members of the Chorale also hold leadership responsibility for the organization through appointed administrative positions.

The Chorale performs a wide range of music, and experiments with various musical genres as well as student compositions. The Chorale has performed in the United States and Europe to great acclaim.