In honor of Juneteenth, WQXR is devoting the entire day to spotlighting the work of Black composers and performers from around the globe with an all-day tribute “Music for Juneteenth: A Celebration of Black Classical Artistry.”
Juneteenth is celebrated annually on June 19 and commemorates the date in 1865 when the Emancipation Proclamation was finally enforced by Union officials in the state of Texas, over two years after the Proclamation was issued. Also known as Freedom Day, it is now widely celebrated as the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the United States.
Over the course of 24 hours — from midnight to midnight — WQXR will showcase the talent, work, and voices of Black musicians. The day’s playlist includes over 150 pieces of music, featuring more than 40 Black composers and over 60 Black soloists and conductors.
Highlights include powerful symphonies by Florence Price, William Grant Still, and William Dawson; the Violin Concerto in F-Sharp Minor by Jose White, a virtuoso who performed with the New York Philharmonic in the 1870s; uplifting choral music by Margaret Bonds and Robert Nathaniel Dett; ragtime favorites by Scott Joplin; living composers like Adolphus Hailstork, Jessie Montgomery, Valerie Coleman, Daniel Kidane, and Nkeiru Okoye; performances by legendary singers such as Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson, Jessye Norman, and Leontyne Price; as well as great artists on the concert scene today including Wynton Marsalis, Lara Downes, Anthony McGill, and Sheku Kanneh-Mason, plus emerging stars.
At 7pm, WQXR will break its music-only format to present a special conversation about race and diversity in classical music. WQXR’s Terrance McKnight will host “The Black Experience in the Concert Hall,” a live two-hour program and discussion with listener call-ins and guests including:
- Martina Arroyo, legendary soprano and founder of the Martina Arroyo Foundation
- Wynton Marsalis, virtuoso trumpeter and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center
- Khalil Gibran Muhammad, professor of History, Race, and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and author of The Condemnation of Blackness
- Jesse Rosen, President and CEO of the League of American Orchestras
- Alvin Singleton, composer
- Chelsea Daniel, pianist
- Greg Sandow, music critic and composer
“Classical musicians of African descent have existed on the margins of obscurity for centuries — in the classroom, the concert hall, the record industry, and on the radio,” said Terrance McKnight, WQXR’s Evening Host. “This underrepresentation is what brought me to work in public radio, and this 24-hour Juneteenth marathon is something I’ve looked forward to my entire radio career. I’m excited to share the work of these artists in a concentrated way, on Juneteenth and beyond.”
“We are honored to mark Juneteenth with a showcase of the work of Black performers and composers, many of whom have long been excluded from the canon,” said Matt Abramovitz, Vice President, WQXR. “And while a call-in show is an unprecedented break with our usual all-music format, a discussion of race and classical music is the conversation we need to have right now, and WQXR has the platform and mandate to host it. We hope listeners will join us for this day of celebration and reflection.”
“Music for Juneteenth: A Celebration of Black Classical Artistry” airs all day beginning at 12:01am June 19 on WQXR 105.9 FM and will stream online at WQXR.org.
WQXR is New York City’s only all-classical music station, immersing listeners in the city’s rich musical life on-air at 105.9FM, online at WQXR.org and in the real world via live events and broadcasts. WQXR presents new and landmark classical recordings as well as live concerts from Carnegie Hall and the New York Philharmonic, and broadcasts essential destination programs including New York Philharmonic This Week and Young Artists Showcase. WQXR is also the co-producer—along with the Metropolitan Opera—of the critically-acclaimed podcast Aria Code, hailed by The New Yorker as “illuminating …accessible…immediately pleasurable.” As a public radio station, WQXR is supported through the generosity of its members, donors and sponsors, making classical music relevant, accessible and inspiring for all.