October 23, 2023
NWS’s 2024 I Dream a World Festival explores Mary Lou’s Harlem
In its third consecutive year, New World Symphony’s “I Dream a World” festival returns to Miami from February 4-25, 2024, with a series of programs that honor the life and work of the “first lady of jazz,” legendary pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams. Click here for festival tickets.
Mary Lou Williams at piano, photo credit: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive
Curated in collaboration with Dr. Tammy Kernodle, Miami University of Ohio Distinguished Professor in the Department of Music, and author of the biography Soul on Soul: The Life and Music of Mary Lou Williams, the multi-disciplinary festival titled “Mary Lou’s Harlem” features a roster of acclaimed artists uniting to celebrate the lasting legacy of one of the most influential, yet least known jazz artists of all time. Performers and collaborators include pianist Aaron Diehl and his acclaimed Jazz Trio, Grammy® Award-nominated jazz singer Carmen Lundy, and guest conductor Andrew Grams. New World Symphony is also thrilled to welcome back the Ambassador Chorale of Florida Memorial University, as well as the Florida International University Jazz Vocal Ensemble. The festival will also feature the world premiere of Mary Lou Williams’ History: A Wind Symphony. Recently discovered in the archives at Duke University, the unfinished work will be re-orchestrated by composer and Duke University professor Dr. Anthony Kelley.
New World Symphony's 2022 I Dream a World Festival at the New World Center, photo by Siggi Bachmann
“I Dream a World: Mary Lou’s Harlem” celebrates Williams’ profound impact on music, culture and the world, with a variety of presentations including a concert for young audiences that shares the life story of Mary Lou Williams through her music and the works of her contemporaries such as Duke Ellington; a screening of Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band (2015) on the soaring, 7,000-square-foot projection wall of the New World Center; a chamber music concert at The Black Archives Historic Lyric Theater in Overtown, featuring the music of Thelonius Monk, Valerie Coleman, David Baker and more; and a cabaret-style performance of Williams’ piano-centric music featuring guest pianist Aaron Diehl and his jazz trio that invokes the energy and activity of Williams' apartment, which became the meeting place for the generation of musicians and intellectuals that birthed the modern jazz movement. “I Dream a World: Mary Lou’s Harlem” culminates in a performance by New World Symphony with the Aaron Diehl Jazz Trio, vocalist Carmen Lundy, the Ambassador Chorale of Florida Memorial University and the Jazz Vocal Ensemble of Florida International University, led by guest conductor Andrew Grams, in a program of selections from Williams’ Zodiac Suite, selections from Williams’ Mass, and a world premiere of her recently discovered History: A Wind Symphony. During this concert, Mary Lou Williams' recorded voice and video footage will be woven into the performance to narrate her own personal story.
Mary Lou Williams, Library of Congress
In partnership with the Institute of Jazz Studies, New World Symphony will display a collection of Mary Lou Williams artifacts in the Atrium of the New World Center. Christopher Norwood, curator and founder of Hampton Art Lovers at the Historic Ward Rooming House, returns for a special art exhibition inspired by Williams. Both exhibits will be available to ticket holders of the February 22, 24, and 25 performances.
“Mary Lou Williams was an arranger, composer, pianist, educator and activist that exemplified all the complexities, tragedy and joy that is embodied in jazz and American music,” said Dr. Tammy Kernodle. “Her name might not be as well-known as Ellington, Miles, Coltrane or Louis Armstrong, but Mary Lou was just as influential as each of them in shaping the identity of jazz music and elevating it beyond conventional discussions about popular music and classical music. I often characterize her work as ‘genius without borders.’ The ‘I Dream a World’ festival will not only illuminate the vastness of Mary Lou Williams' contributions to American music and jazz, but also the social and cultural circles with which she engaged.”
Dr. Tammy Kernodle at New World Symphony's 2023 festival at the New World Center, photo by Gregory Reed
“Since our inaugural festival in 2022, ‘I Dream a World’ has been a core part of the NWS fellowship and audience experience. By focusing on specific Black musicians and creatives, we can increase awareness of this important repertoire and enrich the musical culture of the New World Symphony community,” said Howard Herring, President and Chief Executive Officer. “We look forward to honoring the legendary Mary Lou Williams, a pioneering force in 20th-century American music. We are grateful to Dr. Tammy Kernodle for her invaluable expertise and guidance, and to all of the artists and partners who are joining us for this significant and meaningful celebration.”
Conductor and NWS alum Bill Eddins returned for the 2023 I Dream a World festival, photo by Gregory Reed
New World Symphony launched the inaugural festival “I Dream a World: The Harlem Renaissance and Beyond” in 2022, celebrating the history and influence of the cultural movement that continues to serve as an important foundation for contemporary Black art. “I Dream a World: The Harlem Renaissance in Europe,” followed in February 2023, and explored the trans-Atlantic movement and influence of the Harlem Renaissance in Europe.
NWS Fellows perform at The Black Archives Historic Lyric Theater in Overtown, photo by Alex Markow
On December 5, 2023, at 7:00 p.m., New World Symphony will share a preview of this year's festival during a Soul Basel event at The Black Archives Historic Lyric Theater in Overtown. The program will include pre-recorded content from past “I Dream a World” festivals, as well as live performances by NWS Fellows and a preview of this year’s events with Dr. Tammy Kernodle.
2024 “I DREAM A WORLD” FESTIVAL EVENTS
Concert for Kids: I Dream a World | Sunday, February 4, 2024
New World Center, Michael Tilson Thomas Performance Hall, 11:30 a.m.
Molly Turner, NWS Conducting Fellow
NWS Conducting Fellow Molly Turner leads a special program for young audiences that focuses on the life story of Mary Lou Williams featuring music by Mary Lou Williams, Duke Ellington and more.
Film Screening: “Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band” (2015) | Wednesday, February 7, 2024
SoundScape Park, 8:00 p.m
In collaboration with the American Black Film Festival, NWS presents this feature documentary on the life and music of Mary Lou Williams, voiced by Alfre Woodard and featuring “I Dream a World” guest artist Carmen Lundy and festival curator Dr. Tammy Kernodle.
Chamber Music: In the Land of Oo Blah Dee | Thursday, February 8, 2024
The Black Archives Historic Lyric Theater at 7:30 p.m.
NWS Fellows and guests return to The Black Archives Historic Lyric Theater in Overtown to present chamber music by Mary Lou Williams, Thelonius Monk, Valerie Coleman, David Baker and more.
Cabaret: Mary Lou’s Salon | Thursday, February 22, 2024
New World Center, Truist Pavilion at 7:30 p.m.
Pianist Aaron Diehl and his jazz trio join NWS Fellows for a presentation of piano-centric music by Mary Lou Williams and those within her musical inner circle.
The Soundworld of Mary Lou Williams
February 24, 2024 at 7:30 p.m.
February 25, 2024 at 2:00 p.m.
New World Center, Michael Tilson Thomas Performance Hall
Andrew Grams, conductor
Carmen Lundy, soprano
Aaron Diehl Trio
Ambassador Chorale of Florida Memorial University
Jazz Vocal Ensemble of Florida International University
The festival culminates in an orchestral program led by Andrew Grams that includes the world premiere of a newly uncovered work by Mary Lou Williams, History: A Wind Symphony, that was discovered by Duke University. Also on the program are selections from Mary Lou Williams’ Zodiac Suite, Mass and songs.
Art and Artifact Exhibits | Starting February 22, 2024
New World Center, Atrium and Clinton Ensemble Room
In partnership with the Institute of Jazz Studies, New World Symphony will display a collection of Mary Lou Williams artifacts in the Atrium of the New World Center. Christopher Norwood, curator and founder of Hampton Art Lovers at the Historic Ward Rooming House, returns for a special art exhibition inspired by Mary Lou Williams. Both exhibits will be available to ticket holders of the February 22, 24, and 25 performances.
36 Keys | Online Resource Library
As part of the first festival, New World Symphony launched 36 Keys. Named for the number of black keys on a piano, the website is a resource library dedicated to the keyboard-centric music of Black composers. Designed for students, teachers, performers, programmers and music lovers of all backgrounds, 36 Keys offers biographical information about composers and reference materials by musicologist Elizabeth Durrant, and exceptional video recordings with statements by the artists.