Oberlin Orchestra and choral ensembles on stage at Carnegie Hall.

Oberlin in NYC 2023

The Oberlin Orchestra and conservatory choral ensembles—Oberlin College Choir, Musical Union, and Gospel Choir—performed the master work by 1908 Oberlin graduate R. Nathaniel Dett in New York City's Carmegie Hall in January 2023.
Photo credit: Fadi Kheir

Oberlin shined brightly on two of New York’s grandest stages in January 2023, and this time the glow spanned generations.

The Oberlin Orchestra and conservatory choral ensembles—numbering some 250 musicians in all—joined forces at Carnegie Hall for the second time in as many months for a program that showcased the masterwork of Oberlin composer R. Nathaniel Dett and the talents of two standout alumni soloists making their Carnegie Hall debuts: soprano Chabrelle Williams ’11 and tenor Limmie Pulliam ’98.

In early December, the ensembles performed before the United Nations General Assembly in a celebration of Oberlin’s new partnership with the UN’s Institute for Training and Research and the Global Foundation for the Performing Arts.

This time, the Oberlin entourage also included the exceptional musicians of the Oberlin Sonny Rollins Jazz Ensemble, which sandwiched a pair of sold-out gigs at the famed Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola between outreach visits with schoolchildren across the metropolitan area.

One day prior to the orchestra’s January 20 performance of Dett’s The Ordering of Moses, a panel discussion at Kaufman Music Center contextualized the life and work of Dett, who in 1908 became the first Black double-major graduate of Oberlin Conservatory and who enjoyed a remarkable career as a composer, performer, choral director, and educator at historically Black Hampton University and other institutions.


Student jazz musicians performing in a New York City nightclub.

The Oberlin Sonny Rollins Jazz Ensemble play a pair of sold-out sets at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola—the same venue where the group made its New York City debut four years earlier.

Photo credit: Chris Lee
Six panelists hold a discussion on stage.

A panel discussion led by Oberlin College and Conservatory faculty member Courtney-Savali Andrews (far right) examined the life and legacy of R. Nathaniel Dett, who in 1908 became the first double-major Black graduate of Oberlin Conservatory. The panel was hosted by Kaufman Music Center.

Photo credit: Fadi Kheir
Conductor leading orchestral musicians in a performance.

Raphael Jiménez guided the orchestra through performances of Johannes Brahms’ Tragic Overture, Iván Enrique Rodríguez’s A Metaphor for Power, and R. Nathaniel Dett’s The Ordering of Moses.

Photo credit: Chris Lee
The Oberlin Orchestra stand in an elevator backstage.

The Oberlin Orchestra awaits its call to take the stage.

Photo credit: Fadi Kheir
A single violinist practicing.

Concertmaster Madeleine Zarry warms up backstage.

Photo credit: Fadi Kheir
Oberlin Orchestra performing for an audience of younger students.

The Sonny Rollins Jazz Ensemble visits middle school students in Brooklyn on the morning after its Dizzy's performance.

Photo credit: Lorenzo Ciniglio

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