Maryland’s Soulful Symphony and its multifaceted model for diversification

Posted on: June 25, 2019

Composer and conductor Darin Atwater “founded his own orchestra, the Soulful Symphony, and has led it through ups and downs, stops and starts, over 19 years, to relaunch it this summer in a new home: Merriweather Post Pavilion” in Columbia, Maryland, writes Anne Midgette in Friday’s (6/21) Washington Post. “The Soulful Symphony is … made up of musicians of color, and it plays a cross-section of American music: arrangements of jazz and hip-hop and R&B and gospel and country and any other form that comes into Atwater’s mind…. Orchestral diversification is not just a question of who plays the music, but also one of what they play and how they play it…. ‘Orchestras have to cultivate the audience, too,’ he says…. [For] 10 years the orchestra was affiliated with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, with Atwater as a BSO composer in residence…. The orchestra … was … on the lookout for a permanent home. Now there’s hope for that with the new partnership with Merriweather Post Pavilion, where the Soulful Symphony will offer three concerts this summer…. The Soulful Symphony …represents an alternative and also idealistic vision for an orchestra. [At] the pavilion … patrons are free to move around.”

Posted June 25, 2019

Photo of Darin Atwater by Marvin Joseph / Washington Post