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Coro Allegro presents”A Conversation Still Needed: William Grant Still and Black LIves”

When: April 25, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Where: Virtual online event, MA
Ages allowed: All Ages
Cost: Free
Coro Allegro presents”A Conversation Still Needed: William Grant Still and Black LIves”

“William Grant Still’s And They Lynched Him on a Tree is a work that should be performed annually, as we do Handel’s Messiah. This is a piece that reminds us that we have work to do. It is an American story that allows us to reflect on our history and what it means to be allies” –– Jonathan Q. Berryman

Coro Allegro, Boston’s LGBTQ+ and allied classical chorus, presents Jonathan Berryman, Director of the Heritage Chorale of New Haven, in A Conversation Still Needed: William Grant Still and Black Lives, the second episode of their online series Amplifying Black Voices, Sunday, April 25, 2021, 4 pm. 

Join us for conversation, music, and stories as we explore William Grant Still’s courageous 1940 work, And They Lynched Him on a Tree, and the continued struggle for Black lives and equal justice. A collaboration between a white poet Katherine Garrison Chapin (Biddle) and an African American composer, Still’s operatic work called for a white chorus in the role of a lynch mob, a Black chorus that discovers and mourns the victim, a mezzo soprano soloist as the mother of the slain man, and a narrator. All come together at the end of the piece to lament “the long dark shadow that falls across your land” and call for justice.

In 1999, Coro Allegro and the Heritage Chorale of New Haven became the first LGBTQ+ and African American choruses to collaborate in Still’s work. The Heritage Chorale of New Haven stepped in at the last minute to perform after the local church choir slated to sing the role of the Black chorus pulled out, citing the difficulty of the subject, as well as their discomfort with Coro’s LBGTQ+ identity. The two groups came together again to perform the work in 2019 to celebrate the Heritage Chorale’s 20th anniversary.

Also on the program are performances of  William Grant Still’s Summerland, by Pinkham Award winner, pianist Darryl Hollister, and two new virtual choir collaborations featuring the two choruses, Still’s The Blind Man and M. Roger Holland’s gospel setting of Lord, Make Me an Instrument. 

Free event; donations welcome. RSVP for a link at


Judith Anne Still, archivist and advocate for her father’s music

Marietta Simpson, mezzo soprano and soloist in the 1999 performance

Ron Williams, baritone and narrator in the 2019 performance

Members of The Heritage Chorale of New Haven and Coro Allegro


Coro Allegro Hosts:

Artistic Director David Hodgkins

Executive Director Yoshi Campbell 


Coro Allegro is honored to have as our Community Partner the  Equal Justice Initiative and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.


Sponsored in part by 
David & Shiela Hodgkins
 and grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council
 and the Boston Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture.