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A portrait of Touissant L’Ouverature by Jacob Lawrence. (Photo courtesy of Amistad Research Center New Orleans)

A portrait of Touissant L’Ouverature by Jacob Lawrence. (Photo courtesy of Amistad Research Center New Orleans)

LC Symphony to celebrate black history

Last Modified: Friday, February 14, 2014 11:29 AM

By Alex Onken / American Press

On Saturday, the Lake Charles Symphony and the Black Heritage Festival will celebrate Black History Month with a concert at 7:30 p.m. in the Rosa Hart Theater.

The concert will feature the premiere of Arthur Gottschalk’s “Toussaint Overture,” along with performances of Aaron Copeland’s “A Lincoln Portrait” and Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 in G Major. Maestro Bohuslav Rattay will direct the program.

“ ‘Toussaint Overture’ is a tone poem, and originally written as the overture to my uncompleted opera based upon the life of the New World’s most amazing men,” Gottschalk said in a news release.

Toussaint L’Ouverture, born a slave, defeated the French in Haiti, discouraging Napoleon’s interest in the Western Hemisphere and leading him to sell the Louisiana Territory to President Thomas Jefferson.

“It was very emotional,” said Shelly Appleby, executive director of the Lake Charles Symphony, on hearing the piece for the first time.

“It’s based on this tone poem that chronicles this guy’s life.”

The piece is filled with various movements of music representing different times in L’Ouverture’s life.

Copeland’s “A Lincoln Portrait” will have narration by Mayor Randy Roach. “He is a huge Lincoln historian,” Appleby said. “He has a lot of knowledge on him, and is a great public speaker. We just thought that he would be a good personality for the narration.”

“It’s Aaron Copeland’s music, a wonderful American composer,” said Debbie Howrey, a symphony volunteer.

“It’s some of Lincoln’s addresses, speeches and personal letters written during his lifetime. It follows the meter of the music.”

The Mahler piece will feature soloist Katherine Smith. The music will have visual accompaniment with images of Lincoln from the Library of Congress, and paintings of L’Ouverture.

After the concert, patrons are encouraged to attend an after-party at Heist, 700 Ryan St.

Tickets are $20; they’re $15 for students, seniors and service members with valid ID.

For more information, visit or call 433-1611.

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