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This FREE series, part of RPO @ Home, continues with a musical streaming event available starting on May 15th in partnership with the Avenue Black Box Theatre


May 3, 2021. Rochester, NY —The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO), together with The Avenue Blackbox Theatre, is pleased to announce the next in the series of free, streamed musical events dedicated to the fight for social justice entitled Truth is of No Color: Concerts for Social Justice. This series of events is part of the orchestra’s RPO @ Home streaming series and is free to viewers.

Throughout history, music has been used as a way to promote awareness on social issues and encourage activism. Each event in the Truth is of No Color streaming series features music by composers of the past and present – many whose voices have been suppressed for hundreds of years, based on their sex, race, heritage, sexual orientation, and backgrounds. Each event also highlights a local social justice organization whose vision aligns with the values of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.

The first concert in the series, in partnership with Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, was released in March and featured works by Jessie Montgomery and Carlos Simon.

This second event, to be released on May 15, pays tribute to the art of music and the spoken word and will feature Portraits of Langston by Grammy-nominated Valerie Coleman, and Healing by the RPO’s own Herb Smith.  In partnership with the Avenue Black Box Theatre, this streamed event also features poetry of Langston Hughes performed by Avenue Fellows, spoken word artist Anderson Allen, and directed by Artistic Director, Reenah Golden.

Acclaimed as “Performance Today’s 2020 Classical Women of the Year,” and one of the “Top 35 Women Composers” by the Washington Post, Valerie Coleman is the creator, founder and former flutist of Imani Winds, an ensemble whose performances and original works have redefined wind chamber music with performances that span the globe. Imani Winds’ legacy is documented and featured in a dedicated exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Coleman’s career has led her to be featured with orchestras all over the country. Her career as a recitalist and clinician has led her to be the featured guest flutist at institutions in 49 states and 5 countries. Her work as a recording artist features an extensive discography with Imani Winds, and appearances on albums by the Wayne Shorter Quartet, Chick Corea, the Brubeck Brothers and more on labels Naxos, Sony Classical, Deutsche Grammophon, eOne, and Cedille Records. As a composer, her work has garnered several awards such as the Herb Alpert Awards Ragdale Prize, Van Lier Fellowship, MAPFund, ASCAP Honors Award, and nominations from the Academy of Arts and Letters, and United States Artists.

This event will also feature Healing, a piece by the RPO’s own Herb Smith paired with the Langston Hughes poem, Go Slow, performed by Reenah Golden. Smith’s compositions include music for silent films, musical arrangements for local bands and a collaboration composing a full-length ballet for Garth Fagan Dance. The principal trumpet with the RPO, Herb Smith works with students through the Young Audiences of America and Rochester City School District Artist in Residence program. Smith travels all over upstate N.Y. doing workshops and presentations on classical music and the accessibility of this music for non-musicians. He also is a regular presenter on world music and jazz. Smith also plays many gigs with his jazz quartet and is a frequent substitute player for the Chautauqua Symphony and Buffalo Philharmonic orchestras. He is trumpet instructor for the Eastman Community Music School, and teaches trumpet from his home studio. He has played with many notable artists, including Al Jarreau, Natalie Cole, Doc Severinsen, and The O’Jays.

For this installment of Truth is of No Color, the RPO has partnered with Avenue Blackbox Theatre. Located on Joseph Avenue, the Avenue Blackbox is a Black-owned, inclusive, fully accessible, queer space where social justice and art converge to create dynamic stage productions, installations and live art-making events. The focus is on honoring and uplifting BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ voices, art and issues.  Founded in January 2018, the Avenue Black Box is under the artistic direction of local and international “artivist” Reenah Golden.

“We are so excited for audiences to see the result of this dynamic collaboration,” commented Reenah Golden. “Workshopping the poetry alongside Valerie Coleman’s beautiful arrangements with our teens to engage them in the unleashing of their talent on Langston Hughes’ timelessly potent work was a joy! We all agreed on how good it felt to be in production again, so we pushed the creativity a lot!”

RPO @ Home 2021 highlights Philharmonics, Pops, and Chamber music programs. The RPO @ Home Truth is of No Color series of chamber concerts are available for free, unlimited viewing up to 45 days following the first concert date.  To stream, visit or call the Patron Services Center at 585-454-2100.

This episode of Truth Is of No Color is made possible with the generous support of our proud sponsors: 20/21 Season Sponsors M&T Bank and Rochester Regional Health. With additional support from Dr. George Schwartz and Zuza Kwon and Media Sponsor 103.9 WDKX.

Truth is of No Color programs are available FREE to the public, available to watch anytime, anywhere, at your convenience. Programming of future Truth is of No Color events will be announced at a later date.



STREAMING DATES:                        from Thursday, May 15 to Sunday, June 27 

COLEMAN                           Portraits of Langston
SMITH                                  Healing
Incl. poetry by Langston Hughes                               

TICKET PRICES:                                  FREE

RESERVATIONS:                       or call the Patron Services Center at 585-454-2100.



The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) has been committed to enriching and inspiring our community through the art of music since its founding in 1922. The RPO presents approximately 150 concerts and broadcasts a year, serving up to 170,000 people through ticketed events, education and community engagement activities, and concerts in schools and community centers throughout the region. Music Director Andreas Delfs joins the ranks of former notable RPO music directors, including Erich Leinsdorf, David Zinman, Mark Elder, and Conductor Laureate Christopher Seaman. Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik, now in his 28th season, has earned a national reputation for excellence in pops programming during his tenure with the RPO. The RPO reaches more than 15,000 youth through its specific education programs.


About RPO @ Home

The RPO @ Home Streaming series offers its patrons, along with viewers from all over the world, the opportunity to connect with one of the country’s most storied orchestras. Since the series began in autumn of 2020, viewers from all fifty states and three countries have enjoyed music from the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. This series offers a blend of Philharmonics, Pops and Chamber programming.