Concert Review: The Gathering : A Collective Sonic Ring Shout -5/7/22

The Gathering: A Collective Sonic Ring Shout on Saturday, May 7, 2022 at the Apollo Theater is a sonic quest rooted in the African and African-American ritual of the Ring Shout, co-presented by American Composers Orchestra and the Apollo Theater, co-curated with National Black Theatre in partnership with Gateways Music Festival and Harlem Chamber Players.

The Gathering is a sonic quest rooted in the African and African American ritual of the Ring Shout, directed by National Black Theatre’s Executive Artistic Director Jonathan McCrory and conducted by Chelsea Tipton with choirmaster Gregory Hopkins. A Shout, or Ring Shout, is an ecstatic, transcendent religious ritual, first practiced by enslaved Africans in the Caribbean and in the United States, in which worshipers move in a circle while shuffling, stomping, and clapping.

Woven together through a diverse array of multidisciplinary artists featuring new musical works for orchestra and choir, this evening-length event, anchored by a 70-member orchestra and 60-voice choir composed of singers, professional and amateur, from multiple African American churches and choral ensembles in New York, brings the ancestral tradition of the Ring Shout into a contemporary context, opening a space to collectively grieve, to awaken joy as a source of liberation, and to find love as a form of resistance. The evening includes the New York premiere of Seven Last Words of the Unarmed by Joel Thompson, Carlos Simon’s Amen!and Courtney Bryan’s Sanctum. These works are in conversation with a new commission by Tony Award-winner Jason Michael Webb, world premieres of new arrangements by Toshi Reagon and Nona Hendryx, plus Say Her Name sung by Abby Dobson.

The Gathering collaboration included an array of powerful community engagement activities leading up to the performancewith the intent of creating space for hope, healing, and the collective exhale. For a full list of those activities, click here.

New York Classical Review feature on The Gathering is available here.

A photo review of The Gathering: A Collective Sonic Ring Shout is below. Please enjoy this look back!


The audience watches as the orchestra and choir sonically fill the space.


Joel Thompson after the premiere of his work “Seven Last Words of the Unarmed”.


Nona Hendryx commands The Apollo stage.


Carlos Simon thanking the audience after the premiere of “AMEN!” 


ACO President and CEO Melissa Ngan enraptured by the performances.


The NBT’s CEO Sadé Lythcott, the ACO’s President and CEO Melissa Ngan, and The Apollo’s Executive Producer Kamilah Forbes welcome audiences.


Conductor Chelsea Tipton and the orchestra prepare to begin.


Abby Dobson performing her original work “Say Her Name.”


Board member Marilyn Go listening to Toshi Reagan’s “My Name A Reflection of Home.”


Chelsea Tipton Leads the orchestra in Carlos Simon’s “AMEN!” 

Performance Photos by  Shahar Azran Photography

The Gathering Pre-Show Reception

Reception Photos by Nir Arieli

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