Panel Discussion

Portrait of R. Nathaniel Dett
R. Nathaniel Dett, composer and pianist, circa 1920.
Photo credit: United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division

Explorations of Political, Religious, and Cultural Context in R. Nathaniel Dett's The Ordering of Moses

Thursday, January 19
5:30 to 7 p.m.

Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center
129 W. 67th Street, New York, NY

Free admission. Reservation required.

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Born in Canada and raised in America, composer R. Nathaniel Dett is remembered as an early pioneer who championed the use of Negro spirituals and folk songs as a basis for Western classical compositions—a practice he developed as a student at Oberlin Conservatory. Dett’s 1932 oratorio The Ordering of Moses is widely considered his magnum opus in compositional scale and in its articulation of recurrent issues concerning both the construction of Black identity and artistry.

This discussion brings together prominent scholars and performers from the fields of African American music, choral music, ethnomusicology, music theory, and religion to explore Dett’s music, life, and ideas.


Courtney-Savali Andrews, assistant professor of African American and African diasporic musics at Oberlin College and Conservatory


Fredara Hadley, ethnomusicology professor at The Juilliard School

Jeannie Ma. Guerrero, retired associate professor of music theory at the Eastman School of Music

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, professor emerita of religion and women's studies at Shaw University

Marques L.A. Garrett, assistant professor of music in choral activities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Damien Sneed, faculty member at the Manhattan School of Music