About this Recording
2.110357 - LOKUMBE, H.: Can You Hear God Crying? (Chandler-Eteme, Dixon, Holloway, The Celebration Choir, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Brossé) (NTSC)

Can You Hear God Crying?

A Spiritatorio*
Music and Sung Text by Hannibal Lokumbe

Janice Chandler-Eteme soprano
Rodrick Dixon tenor
Homayun Sakhi Afghan rubâb
Paula Holloway vocalist
Rev. Dr. Alyn E. Waller readings
Dirk Brossé conductor
J. Donald Dumpson choir master

The Celebration Choir Enon Tabernacle Mass Choir and Menʼs Choir The Germantown Concert Chorus • The Clayton White Singers The Arch Street Presbyterian Church Choir • Sounds of Joy Music Ministry

The Music Liberation Orchestra
Hannibal Lokumbe trumpet • Anthony Wonsey piano • Nimrod Speaks bass Byron C. Landham drums • Mogauwane Mahloele percussion

The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia
Meichen Liao Barnes violin • Doris Hall-Gulati clarinet Karen Schubert, Lyndsie Wilson French horn Brian Kuszyk, Steven Heitzer trumpet Timothy Soberick, Michael Purdy tenor trombone Barry McCommon bass trombone • Paul Erion tuba Barry Dove percussion


The journey of composer Hannibal Lokumbe, trumpeter of the Music Liberation Orchestra, has taken him from the cotton fields of Elgin, Texas, where he was first inspired by the spirituals and hymns of his grandparents, to the stages of Carnegie Hall and much of the world. He spent twenty five years in New York City playing trumpet and recording with some of his jazz heroes (including Gil Evans, Pharaoh Sanders, Roy Haynes, Elvin Jones, and McCoy Tyner) and is the recipient of numerous awards including The USA Artists (Cummings Fellow), The Joyce, Bessie’s, NEA, and Lifetime Achievement Award from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Lokumbe is a leader in expressing the African- American experience through orchestral and choral music, with a particular focus on civil rights leaders. In 1998, the New Jersey Symphony commissioned and premiered God, Mississippi and a Man Called Evers about the slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers. Other works include Soul Brother, inspired by the life of Malcolm X, and A Great and Shining Light, about former Atlanta mayor and United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young.

He has composed works for Carnegie Hall, The Kronos String Quartet, as well as the Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit and Houston Symphonies. His groundbreaking African Portraits was performed and recorded by the Chicago Symphony under the direction of Daniel Barenboim and has been performed numerous times since its November 11, 1990 Carnegie Hall debut. In addition Dear Mrs. Parks, which pays homage to Rosa Parks in the form of imaginary letters to the civil rights heroine, was commissioned, performed and recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in March 2009 and released by Naxos [8.559668]. He recently played the role of Luke in a major production of James Baldwin’s play The Amen Corner at The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN.

Can You Hear God Crying received its world premiere at the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall, Philadelphia on Friday, September 21, 2012. Hannibal Lokumbe shares his great-grandfather Silas Burgess’ journey aboard a slave ship two centuries ago on his way to the auction blocks of Potters Mart in Charlestown, South Carolina, and relays the cycles of life and spiritual emancipation he experienced thereafter. The music fuses jazz, gospel and chamber music together with West African prayers and songs.

Can You Hear God Crying? is performed in a set of 10 veils, symbolic of Silas’ journey and evolving understanding. The work begins with Who (Veil 1) in which Kunanamui (the name for God in Kpelle) sings a prayer of love and affirmation to The Jonah People accompanied by the Afghan rabâb instrument. The work continues with The Prayer of Silas (Veil 2) referring to his life in Africa. I Have Come for You (Veil 3) is a choral performance of God’s promise to Silas as he ran away from the South Carolinian rice plantation. In Incarnate (Veil 4) we learn that in spite of the hardships Silas endured, he chose the path of peace and spiritual restoration. As a result The Creator revealed many things to him. One was the sight of his mother and father dancing around a campfire during the migration of the Kpelle people from the Sahara to present day Liberia. At the very heart of the work is The Door of No Return (Veil 5) which represents healing and celebration of the courage and peace found in facing the past; an acknowledgement of the strength and will needed to survive; and the trials and triumphs of life today. The Jonah People (Veil 6) is the name God whispered to me, as being the name of all Africans and their descendants who were forced aboard ships and taken to all parts of the world as slaves. Hymn For The Living (Veil 7) is written in honour of The Jonah People who survived their forced migration by ship. Can You Hear God Crying? (Veil 8) speaks to the current struggles of The Jonah People. I Will Go To The Lord (Veil 9) is my expression of supreme exaltation for The Living God—my refuge, my sanctuary, my ultimate desire, my song of songs. One/Tono (Veil 10) represents the commonality of creation. In this Veil the spirit of Silas is welcomed home by The Creator, the perfect state of One/Tono. Because of his love affair with The Creator, he left cattle, land, a church called Zion Hill, and most notably, a legacy of love.

Adapted from notes by Hannibal Lokumbe

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