By Eric Dundon
On May 1, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and its IN UNISON Chorus paid tribute to the life and legacy of Dr. Robert Ray in a free community concert at Powell Hall. Ray was the founding director of the IN UNISON Chorus, a resident SLSO chorus that specializes in the performance and preservation of music from the African diaspora. He passed away in December 2022 at age 76.
The concert celebrated Ray’s many contributions to the country’s arts and music landscape, featuring the IN UNISON Chorus, SLSO musicians, vocalists Jennifer Kelley and Jermaine Smith, and singers from ensembles impacted by Ray’s signature musicianship, led by current chorus director Kevin McBeth and guest conductor Dr. Brandon Boyd.
The program included composers whom Ray championed, vocal music for which Ray was known, and Ray's own compositions, including Gospel Mass and
In addition to the musical selections, touching tributes by Rollo Dilworth, Doris Jones-Wilson, and Phyllis Jackson–Ray's sister–remembered Ray.