Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Celebrates Black History Month with Family Series Program Honoring African-American Innovators, February 21

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Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Celebrates Black History Month with Family Series Program Honoring African-American Innovators, February 21

Baltimore, Md. (January 21, 2015) — In celebration of Black History Month, Associate Conductor for Education and Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestras Artistic Director Ken Lam leads the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in a Family Concert Series program celebrating African-American Innovators, Saturday, February 21 at 11 a.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Featuring the music of Duke Ellington and Heitor Villa-Lobos, the Baltimore City College Choir led by Director Marcus Smith, lends their voices for a collection of African-American spirituals, honoring the impact of innovation on our collective history. Entertainer Shannan E. Johnson narrates. Please see below for complete program details.

Ken Lam, conductor

Ken Lam is associate conductor for education of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, artistic director of the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestras, music director of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, director of orchestra at Montclair State University in New Jersey, resident conductor of Brevard Music Center, artistic director of Hong Kong Voices and the winner of the 2011 Memphis International Conducting Competition. He was a featured conductor in the League of American Orchestra’s 2009 Bruno Walter National Conductors Preview with the Nashville Symphony and made his U.S. professional debut with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in June 2008 as one of four conductors selected by Leonard Slatkin.

In recent seasons, he led performances with the symphony orchestras of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Pops, Charleston, Detroit, Memphis, Illinois and Meridian, as well as Ensemble ACJW in New York. He has also conducted the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Hong Kong Philharmonic and the Taipei Symphony Orchestra.

Formerly, Ken held positions as assistant conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and principal conductor of the Hong Kong Chamber Orchestra. Ken studied conducting with Gustav Meier, Markand Thakar and Marin Alsop at the Peabody Conservatory, David Zinman and Murry Sidlin at the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen and Leonard Slatkin at the National Conducting Institute. He read economics at St. John’s College, Cambridge University and was a practicing solicitor for 10 years before becoming a conductor.

He is also a keen golfer and tennis player and was a past president of the Cambridge University Chinese Society.

Baltimore City College Choir

For the 175 years that Baltimore City College has stood as the “Castle on the Hill,” a legacy of musical excellence has been maintained. Initiated years ago with the triumphant voices of the male glee club, the legacy of singing has continued with the development of an elaborate SATB choral program that has garnered a reputation as one of the finest high school ensembles in the region.

The Baltimore City College Choir has delighted audiences on television, radio and stages in the Baltimore Metropolitan area and along the Eastern seaboard including South Carolina, Georgia, Canada, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts and a host of other states. They have been privileged to share the stage with Marin Alsop, Damon Gupton and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra with Yo-Yo Ma, the Morgan State University Choir and the Baltimore Choral Arts Society. The choir has also participated in numerous competitions and adjudications in which they have consistently received superior ratings with copious awards and first place trophies.

Shannan E. Johnson, narrator

Shannan E. Johnson is a performing artist best described as an entertainer. She sees art as a collaborative process and conversation of emotion between the artist and the audience.  After working behind the scenes in the entertainment industry for a few years, Shannan left her job as a junior creative executive at the Syfy Channel to travel the world performing and doing outreach with youth of all ages and cultures in the international dance company Step Afrika! This leap of faith is what reopened her eyes to the love of her life – creativity. Shannan is now a full-time performing and teaching artist allowing herself to turn her dreams into goals and her goals into fulfillment. She was most recently on the First National Tour of the Broadway show Ghost the Musical. (Houston, TX. BA in English and Journalism, Texas A&M/MFA in Film, Florida State)


Family Series Concert

African-American Innovators

Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 11 a.m. – Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

Ken Lam, conductor

Baltimore City College Choir

Marcus Smith, director

Shannan E. Johnson, narrator

Tickets start at $29 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 410.783.8000 or


The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is funded by an operating grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive. 

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is supported in part by funding from the Montgomery County government and the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County. 

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is also supported by the Citizens of Baltimore County and Baltimore City.



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