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POSTPONED: Experiential Orchestra & Chorus present An Ethel Smyth Grammy Award Celebration Concert


Experiential (EXO) Orchestra and Chorus'

An Ethel Smyth Grammy Award Celebration Concert Scheduled for January 29 is Postponed

James Blachly, EXO Music Director

Steven Fox, Chorus Master

With Bass-Baritone Dashon Burton, Soprano Sarah Brailey, and Members of The Clarion Choir | | | |

Due to the ongoing pandemic, Experiential Orchestra (EXO) and Chorus, led by Music Director James Blachly, has postponed its January 29, 2022 concert at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, which was to have celebrated its 2021 Grammy win in the Best Classical Solo Vocal Album category for Dame Ethel Smyth’s The Prison (Chandos Records). The new concert date is to be announced. Ticket holders may request refunds - for information visit

The January 29 performance was planned as a celebration of the first-ever Grammy for music by Smyth, who lived from 1858 to 1944 and struggled her entire career to have her music judged on its merits rather than on the basis of her gender. The Prison, a 64-minute vocal symphony, was Smyth’s last work and her only symphony – she was 72 when she completed it in 1930. She stopped composing shortly after, due to advancing deafness.

The Prison is a symphony in two parts, “Close on Freedom” and “The Deliverance.” Sometimes called an oratorio or a cantata, it is similar in scale and scope to the vocal symphonies of Mahler. On the title page, Smyth quotes the last words of Greek philosopher Plotinus, “I am striving to release that which is divine within us, and merge it in the universally divine.” The text for the work, drawn from a philosophical work by Henry Bennet Brewster, describes the writing of a man in a solitary cell and his reflections on his past life and his preparations for death. But the text is poetic and reflective, with layers of meaning and metaphor. Thus the “prison” is both an actual jail, and a philosophical representation of the “shackles of self,” as Brewster describes them.

More about The Prison:

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