UCLA hosts three days of events around Dave Brubeck’s epic cantata for peace

“When King said, ‘We must live together as brothers,’ people didn’t hear it. Now they damn well hear it.”

— Dave Brubeck

A concert at UCLA’s Royce Hall (2/26) will be reprised at Holman United Methodist Church (a historically Black church in LA) on 2/28 with a daylong conference at UCLA in between (2/27).

Over these three days, professional and amateur musicians, students, scholars & critics convene to explore social justice, Black-Jewish relations, and the role of music in furthering social change.

  • Brubeck’s sons Darius, Chris, and Dan Brubeck travel to UCLA from England & the East Coast to perform as the jazz trio in The Gates of Justice together for the first time.
  • A 70-piece choir includes the award-winning ensemble Tonality, UCLA Chamber Singers, and vocalists from local synagogues and Black churches.
  • Cantor Azi Schwartz (Park Avenue Synagogue) sings the tenor role alongside baritone Phillip Bullock, whose music draws from African-American traditions In addition to The Gates of Justice, the concerts feature vocal works by living Jewish and Black composers and world premieres by Arturo O’Farrill and Diane White-Clayton
  • FEBRUARY 26: Concert at UCLA Royce Hall, 4pm
  • FEBRUARY 27: Conference at UCLA Faculty Center, 9am–5pm
  • FEBRUARY 28: Concert at Holman United Methodist Church, 7:30pm
  • Partners include UCLA Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), the Milken Archive of Jewish Music, UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies, Hugo and Christine Davise Fund for Contemporary Music at the UCLA Music Library, UCLA Global Jazz Studies, and UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy.

Los Angeles, CA — As part of its inaugural Music and Justice series, the newly opened Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience at The UCLA Herb Alpert  School of Music presents a series of concerts and dialogue bringing artists and academics together to deep-dive into race and justice issues in the modern world.

An enterprising three-day festival, February 26-28, revolves around THE GATES OF JUSTICE, jazz legend Dave Brubeck’s rarely heard epic sacred cantata written in the aftermath of the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The texts, compiled by Brubeck’s wife Iola Brubeck, are based on biblical and Hebrew liturgy, quotes from Dr. King’s speeches and the Jewish sage, Hillel, and songs from African-American spirituals (Iola wrote original texts as well). It was commissioned by the umbrella organization of America’s Reform Judaism movement specifically to address increasing tensions between the Jewish and African-American communities. But to Dave and Iola, the work had a more universal message concerning “the brotherhood of man.”

Social justice was key to Brubeck’s moral core. He protested against segregation in the 1960s and  canceled a tour of southern colleges and universities when they refused to allow his integrated quartet to perform. Of The Gates of Justice, his son Chris Brubeckrecalls: “My parents worked with all their heart and soul and threw everything they had into that piece. I knew it was very important to them, because my father and mother had a very deep social conscience.”

A historic performance of The Gates of Justice takes place Sunday, February 26 in Royce Hall on the UCLA campus, with Brubeck’s sons Darius Brubeck (piano), Chris Brubeck (bass), and Dan Brubeck (drums) as the accompanying jazz trio for the first time. Chris Brubeck says: “I think there’s a chance that we’re going to give a different kind of new life to it.” 

Conductor Neal Stulberg, director of orchestral studies at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, says “The Gates of Justice is an ambitious work and requires outstanding instrumentalists and singers. Having the Brubeck brothers as the jazz piano trio will add a remarkable and personal element to the performances.”

Phillip K. Bullock is the baritone soloist in Gates, and will be joined byAzi Schwartz, senior cantor of Park Avenue Synagogue in New York. Equally at home in opera and gospel, Bullock was heralded in Opera News for his “appealingly suave baritone” and “strong presence.” A champion of new music, he stars in Kate Soper’s opera The Romance of the Rose at Long Beach Opera the week before UCLA’s The Gates of Justice. Cantor Azi Schwartz reaches both Jewish and interfaith audiences internationally, and has performed at Carnegie Hall, the United Nations, Madison Square Garden, the US Capitol Rotunda, and at Pope Francis’ visit to New York.

A remarkable choir of professionals, amateurs, and students joins the soloists on stage. It combines Tonality—the award-winning vocal ensemble noted for adventurous, socially conscious programming and “open-hearted singing” under the direction of Dr. Alexander Lloyd Blake—with singers from local African-American churches, synagogues, and UCLA.

To bring Brubeck’s work in dialogue with contemporary issues, the program also features socially conscious vocal works by living Jewish and Black composers (including Joel ThompsonJared JenkinsGerald Cohen), as well as two world premieres written for this occasion by two School of Music faculty: I Dream a World by eight-time Grammy winner Arturo O’Farrillbased on the promises of civil rights;and Dear Freedom Rider by composer/singer/pianist/conductor Diane White-Clayton. White-Clayton wrote her piece for 11 UCLA student singers, cello and piano—one performer for each of the 13 freedom riders who set out in 1961 to challenge segregation in interstate travel in the American South. She asked each student to write a letter to one of the freedom riders and will use the students’ words as the sung texts.

A repeat performance of the full 2/26 program takes it into the community,at the historic Holman United Methodist Church in the West Adams neighborhood of LA on Tuesday, February 28.“Holman has always followed the significant Black Church tradition of utilizing the power of music and social justice to make the world a better place for all people, regardless of race or religion,” says the Rev. Ken Walden. And on Monday, February 27, a daylong conference at UCLA features prominent scholars and experts from around the country exploring the historical and cultural connections between Black and Jewish communities, intimate analyses of Brubeck’s The Gates of Justice, and the contemporary relevance of music to social justice.

In the words of Jeff Janeczko, curator of the Milken Archive, which recorded The Gates of Justice with Dave and Iola Brubeck in the early 2000s: “It is a testament to Brubeck’s skill as a composer that we can stage The Gates of Justice today and appreciate it for having stood the test of time, musically. But it should give us pause to acknowledge that it has not lost its social relevance. We hope that the work’s central message, drawn directly from the words of Martin Luther King—’If we do not live together as brothers, we will die together as fools’—will resound far beyond the walls of the concert hall.”

WATCH: Chris Brubeck talks about his father’s epic cantata The Gates of Justice

GATES OF JUSTICE SCHEDULE & PARTICIPANTS

schoolofmusic.ucla.edu/music-and-justice

DAY ONE: SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26
CONVERSATION & PERFORMANCE

Tickets:
General admission free with suggested $10 support

2:00 pm:
Public Conversation in UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall (Livestreamed as well)
– An introduction to The Gates of Justice with Darius BrubeckLarry Blumenfeld, and Arturo O’Farrill. Moderated by Wayne Winbourne.

4:00 pmConcert at Royce Hall (Livestreamed as well)

First half:
 Arturo O’Farrill‘s I Dream a World for solo voice (India Carney, UCLA alum and finalist on The Voice), string quartet and jazz piano trio (World Premiere)
 Diane White-Clayton’s Dear Freedom Rider, featuring a UCLA student chorus, cello and piano (World Premiere)

Four works performed by the choir Tonality, led by Alexander Lloyd Blake:
— Joel Thompson‘s America Will Be (Langston Hughes, Emma Lazarus). Watch here.
— Nick Strimple‘s Psalm 133. Watch here.
— Jared Jenkins‘ Democracy (Langston Hughes) featuring India Carney. Watch here.
— Gerald Cohen‘s I felt my legs were praying (Psalm 35, Abraham Joshua Heschel).

Second half:
— Dave Brubeck’s The Gates of Justice
– Tenor soloist: Azi Schwartz
– Baritone soloist: Phillip Bullock

Jazz Trio: 
Darius Brubeck (piano)
– Chris Brubeck (bass)
– Dan Brubeck (drums) 

Chorus:
Tonality
– Members of Los Angeles African-American church and synagogue choirs
– UCLA Chamber Singers 

Brass and Percussion:
– Students of The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music 

Conductor:
– Neal Stulberg, director of orchestral studies at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music


DAY TWO: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27
CONFERENCE 

Faculty Center at UCLA

Tickets:
FREE

9:00 a.m: Welcome and First Session
– Opening remarks from Professor Anna Spain Bradley, Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at UCLA
“Historical and Cultural Connections of Jews and Blacks in America” Hasia Diner (NYU)
– “Jews and Blacks in America before World War II”  Charles Hersch (Cleveland State University) 
– “Jewish and African-American Pursuit of Social Justice in Jazz” Kelsey Klotz (UNC Charlotte)
– “The Sounds of Justice: A Musical Understanding of Brubeck’s The Gates of Justice” 

11:30a.m.:Keynote Address
– “Spirituality in Dave Brubeck’s The Gates of Justice” Dwight Andrews
 (Emory University, Professor of Music Theory & African American Music)
– Response: Wayne Winborne (Executive Director Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University, Newark)

1:00: Lunch 

2:00:Darius, Chris, and Dan Brubeck “Dave Brubeck and Social Justice” 

3:30: “Music and Social Justice Today” panel discussion
Larry Blumenfeld (Wall Street Journal
– Lorenna Garcia (Student, UCLA)
– Diane White-Clayton (UCLA)
– Moderator: Wayne Winbourne (Executive Director Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University, Newark)

5:00Reception


DAY THREE: TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 28
PERFORMANCE

Holman United Methodist Church
3320 W Adams Blvd
Los Angeles, CA

Tickets: 
General admission: $10; Premium seating: $20
Free for teachers and students7:30 pm: A second performance of the entire program, including 

About the Speakers

Dwight Andrews is professor of Music Theory & African American Music at Emory University. Andrews is a composer, educator, and minister whose professional credits include compositions for film and television and playing on over two dozen jazz and new music albums. He has held distinguished professorships at Yale, Harvard, and Emory University and is currently writing a book about Black music and race.

Larry Blumenfeld writes about music and culture for Wall Street Journal and many other publications. For 25 years, Blumenfeld has worked as a journalist, critic, blogger, editor, lecturer, producer, and curator with special expertise in jazz, Afro-Latin, and world music, and with a particular focus on New Orleans and Cuba, and on connections between culture and social justice. His writing has won him fellowships and support from the Open Society Foundation, Ford Foundation, the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University, and others.

Hasia Diner is the Paul and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History at NYU. Diner is a leading scholar of American Jewish history, American immigration history, and women’s history. She is the author of many books including In the Almost Promised Land: American Jews and Blacks 1915-1935.

Charles Hersch is an Emeritus Professor of Political Science at Cleveland State University who has written widely about music, art, politics, and race through three books: Jews and Jazz: Improvising Ethnicity (2017), Subversive Sounds: Race and the Birth of Jazz in New Orleans (2007), and Democratic Artworks: Politics and the Arts from Trilling to Dylan (1998).

Kelsey Klotz is a lecturer in the Department of Music at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She has a Ph.D. in musicology from Washington University in St. Louis. Her book Dave Brubeck and the Performance of Whiteness will be published by Oxford University Press in January 2023.

Wayne Winborne is executive director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University Newark, the largest and most comprehensive archive and library of jazz and jazz-related materials in the world. Winborne is also assistant professor in the Arts, Culture, and Media department and a frequent presenter on jazz, race, art and culture, democracy, civic engagement, racial reckoning, and non-profit management. Widely published, he is also editor of a three-book series on race and intergroup relations. Winborne holds degrees from Stanford and New York University.


ABOUT THE LOWELL MILKEN CENTER FOR MUSIC OF AMERICAN JEWISH EXPERIENCE

schoolofmusic.ucla.edu/resources/lowellmilkenmaje

Launched in 2020, the Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience (UCLA MAJE) is the first permanent academic home for the study of the music of the American Jewish experience. UCLA MAJE was established by a generous gift of $6.75 million from the Lowell Milken Family Foundation. Housed in The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, UCLA MAJE fosters artistic creativity, scholarship, performance, and other cultural expressions. UCLA MAJE is a natural outgrowth of the Milken Archive of Jewish Music, established in 1990 to record, preserve, and disseminate music inspired by over 350 years of Jewish life in the U.S. The opening of the center coincided with the Brubeck centennial and the 50th anniversary of The Gates of Justice.

Milken, a graduate of UCLA School of Law, is an international businessman and philanthropist who chairs National Reality, the largest property owner of early childhood centers in the US, and the London-based Heron International, a worldwide leader in property development. Milken is known for his philanthropy in education, music, and design. His previous giving established the Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy at UCLA School of Law, along with the Lowell Milken Family Centennial Scholars Endowed Scholarship Fund for student-athletes.

“Shaped by Jews from every corner of the globe, who absorbed their host cultures while retaining their Jewish heritage, the archive is as diverse and beautiful as America itself,” Milken said. “From the outset, our vision was to create a living archive, making education central to our mission. The partnership with The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music positions the new center as a global leader in the field of music of the American Jewish experience.”

Album cover for Dave Brubeck’s The Gates of Justice, originally released in 1970 on Decca (now out of print)

https://schoolofmusic.ucla.edu/music-and-justice/

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