By Eric Dundon
A tradition borne in 2021 continues on June 19 as the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra honors the Juneteenth federal holiday with a free community concert.
As is tradition, the SLSO has partnered with an area church to present the program, which will commemorate the holiday through performances of music by Black artists. The concert, the SLSO’s third annual commemoration of the Juneteenth Holiday, will be held in collaboration with long-time IN UNISON partner church First Baptist Church of Chesterfield (FBCC), Rev. Christopher L. Rogers, pastor. The concert will begin at 2:00pm and last about an hour.
No tickets are required for this community celebration; RSVPs are requested at slso.org. Doors open at 1:00pm and seating is first-come, first-served.
Reserve your tickets here.
SLSO musicians and vocalists from the SLSO’s IN UNISON Chorus and IN UNISON Scholars program will perform works by Black artists including John Carter, Rollo Dilworth, Robert Gibson, Florence Price, Andre Thomas, and William Grant Still. Throughout the collaborative program, Rev. Rogers and IN UNISON Chorus members will speak about the importance of Juneteenth, a federal holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans, through spoken word and poetry.
The SLSO is partnering with Saint Louis County Parks to offer additional activities recognizing Juneteenth. Saint Louis County Parks will offer tours from 11:00am to 5:00pm of African Schoolhouse No. 4—a one-room schoolhouse that educated Black children in Chesterfield that was restored in Faust Park and dedicated earlier this year. Following the concert from 3:15 to 4:15pm, the FBCC memorial slave cemetery at the southeast corner of Wild Horse Creek Road and Chesterfield Parkway will be open to visitors. First Baptist Church of Chesterfield members and descendants of those memorialized at the cemetery will be on site to talk about the location’s importance.
First Baptist Church of Chesterfield traces its history back to the 1840s, when a group of enslaved people and their owners attended worship services together in what is now Chesterfield valley. Housed in several buildings over the next 150 years, the church’s current location on Wild Horse Creek Road was completed in 1996.
The SLSO’s IN UNISON Program began in 1992 as a partnership between the institution and predominantly Black churches in the St. Louis area. In the 30 years since its founding, IN UNISON has grown to become the SLSO’s flagship community engagement, including:
Partnerships with 30+ churches throughout the region.
The acclaimed IN UNISON Chorus, a resident chorus that specializes in the performance and preservation of music from African American and African expression. The chorus performs with the SLSO several times each season.
The IN UNISON Academy, a series of academic support programs that include mentorships, scholarships, fellowships, and Young Artist opportunities with the IN UNISON Chorus.
IN UNISON has been supported from its inception by Bayer Fund. Previous SLSO Juneteenth concerts have taken place at partner churches Washington Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church and Greater Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church, both in St. Louis.
Eric Dundon is the SLSO’s Public Relations Director.