Montgomery and the Blacknificent 7

Dec 3, 2023


Audience Favorite

The opening of the 2023/24 CSO MusicNOW season illuminates works by a dynamic collective of Black composers, the Blacknificent 7. Highlights include the world premiere of The United States Welcomes You by Jasmine Barnes, Damien Geter’s Annunciation — featuring Chicago favorite Russell Thomas, “a voice that marries Wagnerian stamina and Italianate beauty” (Wall Street Journal) — and Dave Ragland’s Eight Tones for Elijah, a loving tribute to young violinist Elijah McClain, who was killed by the police on his walk home. Nimble and accomplished improvisers, CSO Mead Composer-in-Residence Jessie Montgomery and Carlos Simon perform of-the-moment interludes, woven throughout the program.

Curated by Mead Composer-in-Residence Jessie Montgomery.

Please note that this program includes content intended for mature audiences.

Concert Extras ⇓

Listen now to the Preconcert discussion featuring members of the Blacknificent 7.




In Response to the Madness




Eight Tones for Elijah


I Believe


The United States Welcomes You [World Premiere, CSO MusicNOW Commission]



Mead Composer-in-Residence
Composer and soprano
Composer and bass-baritone
Jessie Montgomery
Composer and piano


Enhance your concert experience with these additional events.

No additional ticket required.

Preconcert Panel at 3 p.m. in Grainger Ballroom

Discover more about “The Modern Artist Collective” featuring members of the Blacknificent 7 in a preconcert panel. LaRob K. Rafael, artistic director of Hearing in Color and WFMT host and producer, hosts a discussion with members of the Blacknificent 7.

Listen now to the discussion featuring members of the Blacknificent 7.

Presented by Chicago Humanities in collaboration with the CSOA.

Afterparty in the Rotunda

Hosted by the CSO African American Network, enjoy a casual afterparty and meet-and-greet with the artists and discover new ways to immerse yourself in the imaginative musical worlds of today's most innovative composers.

Sponsors & Partners

Major support for MusicNOW is generously provided by the Zell Family Foundation, Sargent Family Foundation, Sally Mead Hands Foundation and the Julian Family Foundation.

Like many of the best inventions, the Blacknificent 7 was born of necessity. And serendipity. “I think our collective is a signifier of things to come,” says Jessie Montgomery, the group's leader and CSO Mead Composer-in-Residence.
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"History is always relevant because we’re always creating it," says composer-soprano Jasmine Barnes. "This influences my compositions, because I’m aware of how history has been erased, revised and rerouted. I feel it’s my personal responsibility to tell it, and art is the best space to do that. My goal is to always tell a story of purpose."
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CSO MusicNOW, the orchestra’s contemporary music series, returns in the 2023-24 Season with two curated ensemble programs and two concerts with the full Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
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