Bonds: The Ballad of the Brown King & Selected Songs / Merriweather, The Dessoff Choirs & Orchestra

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A WQXR-FM Best Classical Recording for 2019

Twentieth-century African American composer Margaret Bonds receives long overdue recognition with the world premiere recording of her crowning achievement, The Ballad of the Brown King. With an expressly written libretto by Bonds’ friend Langston Hughes, this Christmas cantata which focuses on Balthazar, the dark-skinned king who journeyed to Bethlehem to witness the birth of Jesus Christ, is beautifully interpreted by New York City-based The Dessoff Choirs and Orchestra, outstanding soloists soprano Laquita Mitchell, mezzo-soprano Lucia Bradford and tenor Noah Stewart, under the baton of their charismatic conductor, Malcolm J. Merriweather. Bonds authority Dr. Ashley Jackson contributes the inspired liner notes. This unique seasonal album also includes a selection of specially arranged songs, including a setting of Hughes’ seminal poem I, Too, Sing America, performed by baritone Merriweather and Jackson on solo harp.


Nearly 60 years after its premiere, conductor Malcolm J. Merriweather and the phenomenal New York-based Dessoff Choirs have at last provided a way experience Margaret Bonds’ genius cantata, The Ballad of the Brown King. After luxuriating in this sumptuous setting of the Nativity story (with a libretto by Langston Hughes), be sure to listen to Bonds’ heart-rending Three Dream Portraits, sung forcefully by Merriweather himself.

–WQXR-FM (105.9 FM, NYC - Zev Kane)

Product Description:

  • Release Date: November 01, 2019

  • Catalog Number: AV2413

  • UPC: 822252241327

  • Label: Avie

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: 20th Century

  • Composer: Margaret Bonds

  • Conductor: Malcolm J. Merriweather

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Dessoff Orchestra

  • Performer: Laquita Mitchell