One World Symphony gets "Defiant"

One World Symphony gets "Defiant"

Sung Jin Hong, creator of One World Symphony. Photo by Jaka Vinsek.

On January 22 New York City's "hippest orchestra," the One World Symphony, presents a fascinating - and important - concert programme, titled Defiant.

Conductor, composer, and founder of One World Symphony, Sung Jin Hong has brought into one evening the old and the new, exposing what truly is timeless about a society which names and challenges unhealthy leadership. The programme includes Beethoven's 7th Symphony, Margaret Allison Bonds' The Negro Speaks of Rivers (1942) featuring soprano Sonya Headlam, and two world premieres composed by Sung Jin Hong himself. His symphonic adaptation of Charlie Chaplin's famed speech from 1940's The Great Dictator certainly resonates with our lives in 2017; also debuting is his Shaken Me To My Core, a musical setting of Michelle Obama's 2016 address condemning the harassment and abuse of women.

Sonya Headlam, soprano, performing in Margaret Allison Bonds' The Negro Speaks of Rivers and Sung Jin Hong's Shaken Me To My Core, with the One World Symphony. Photo: Iconography By Eric & Christopher.

Defiance is truly the theme of this programme. Beethoven defied his deafness, Chaplin and Obama the violence and hatred of their times, and composers like Margaret Allison Bonds and Valerie Capers (the first blind composer to graduate from Juilliard) produced their work defiantly amid the racism, ableism, and sexism that pervaded their lives.

The One World Symphony in performance. Photo by Jaka Vinsek.

In fact, One World Symphony is offering two free tickets to audience members who can identify the 40 defiant faces in their concert poster (also found below); as a bonus, audiences can also earn a pair of free tickets to an upcoming One World concert, if they can explain why each of the people in the poster is defiant.

Defiant happens January 22, 8pm, at Church of the Holy Apostles, 296 Ninth Avenue, New York. For full details about the programme, and to purchase tickets, follow our box office links below. For more, read Adrienne Metzinger's interview with Lynn Frederick Hawley, Executive Director of the Sexual Assault & Violence Intervention Program.

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Written by

Jenna Simeonov

Jenna Simeonov

Jenna is the editor and co-creator of She's also a pianist, vocal coach, and répétiteur, and working with singers is how she fell in love with opera. Her favourite operas include Peter Grimes, Ariadne auf Naxos, Tristan und Isolde, Written on Skin, and Anna Nicole.

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  • One World Symphony - Defiant

    One World Symphony - Defiant

    Our contemporary culture encourages art to foster a rigorous and “liberatingly” unsentimental worldview. It tries to tell us that placing distance strengthens the emotional power.

    Enough is enough.

    During World War II, Charlie Chaplin appealed for a new world where tolerance, love, and kindness reigned. His impassioned speech from the 1940 film The Great Dictator resonates today more than ever. Seventy-six years later, with vocal gravitas, Michelle Obama delivered an ardent address condemning the abuse and harassment of women. Not only did her words crystallize feelings of outrage and hurt, her message went beyond the politics of the moment. It tapped far deeper into the heart of the issue — confronting our future as brothers and sisters and our shared humanity.

    Would black artists like Langston Hughes, Margaret Allison Bonds, or Valerie Capers — the first blind composer to graduate from Juilliard — create art with a “liberatingly unsentimental” worldview and accept the intolerance and violence? Artists may not be able to prevent disasters, stop wars, or heal the sick, but they do have the power to inspire, uplift, and bring hope through their passion.

    What would happen if each one of us adopted Beethoven’s approach with unassailable optimism and pathos? What if we each accordingly acted to transform ourselves first and helped build a world of hope and empathy... defy?

    “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, and more devotedly than ever before.” – Leonard Bernstein

    On behalf of One World Symphony staff and artists, we wish you a happy new year and looking forward to sharing our passion with all of you at "Defiant" on Sunday, January 22, 2017 at 8pm in NYC.

    – Sung Jin Hong


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