Free concert features spirituals

Wilton’s Music on the Hill will present the premiere performance of Threads of Light: A Tapestry of African-American Spirituals at Norwalk Concert Hall on Saturday evening, Oct. 1, at 7:30. Admission is free.

This new work by Music on the Hill artistic director Ellen Dickinson weaves together more than 30 spirituals in three movements — Hope, Journey, Glory — including familiar songs such as  Deep River and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot and others rarely heard.The three movements are connected by poetry by African-American poets, which will be read by special guests.

The concert will feature the Music on the Hill Festival Chorus and the Special Projects Choir of the Unitarian Church in Westport. They will be joined by soloists Harriett Alfred, soprano, and Edward Pleasant, baritone, and by trumpet, bells, and upright bass. Dickinson will conduct.

According to a press release, Dickinson reviewed hundreds of spirituals to arrive at the 30 represented in Threads of Light and chose trumpet and bells to paint a musical picture of heaven, “so integral to the songs of enslaved African-Americans longing for a better place." Trumpet and bass introduce elements of jazz, a musical descendant of the original spirituals.

Music on the Hill programs are funded in part by a grant from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Music on the Hill is an independent nonprofit organization.