New York Trend Online
Serving New York City, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties

The Harlem Chamber Players Present Masterpiece ‘The Ordering of Moses’ At The Riverside Church

Having been on pause since the pandemic, Liz Player (Founding Executive and Artistic Director, Harlem Chamber Players) is pleased to announce the rare NYC performance of the Harlem Renaissance composer Nathaniel Dett’s (1882-1943) masterpiece oratorio The Ordering of Moses, which was cut short during a radio broadcast in 1937. The Ordering of Moses will be presented for one night only, the weekend of Juneteenth, on Thursday, June 17th at 7:30PM at The Riverside Church (490 Riverside Drive).

Produced by Ms. Player and brought back to its original splendor, this epic performance includes a 60 piece orchestra from The Harlem Chamber Players, a 75 member choir composed of members from Chorale Le Chateau, and five Metropolitan Opera soloists. The production is helmed by conductor, music director and multifaceted artist Damien Sneed and is hosted by WQXR personality Terrance McKnight. The Ordering of Moses is part of the Harlem Renaissance Centennial. General admission tickets priced at $25 are available online at or by calling ­­­­­­212-866-1492.  

For its world premiere in 1937, The Ordering of Moses was broadcast nationally by NBC, making it among the first classical pieces written by an African-American composer to earn that distinction. Due to “previous commitments,” the network cut the scheduled broadcast short by 10 minutes, believed by most to be the result of the network caving to complaints from racist listeners. It was last performed in 2014 at Carnegie Hall.  

This once-in-a-lifetime performance of The Ordering of Moses features five Metropolitan Opera soloists who include soprano Brandie Sutton, soprano Janinah Burnett, mezzo soprano Krysty Swann, tenor Chauncy Packer and baritone Kenneth Overton. This concert is dedicated to the memory of the legendary soprano Jessye Norman. Sweeping in its scope and soul-stirring with its unmistakable infusion of spirituals into a traditional European form, R. Nathaniel Dett’s masterwork invokes the emancipation of African-American people through a re-telling of the Old Testament story.  The Ordering of Moses uses a distinct combination of scripture and folklore to recount the tale of Moses leading the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt and into liberation. With Dett’s bold use of African-American thematic elements, weaving the spiritual “Go Down Moses” throughout a staunchly traditional form, this soaring work echoes the plight of slaves in America—from emancipation to Jim Crow to the Harlem Renaissance, and now, the ability to celebrate the liberation of Black creative voices 100 years later. In addition to The Ordering of Moses, also on the bill for the evening are James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing”in a world premiere arrangement by Damien Sneed, Bach’s “Herr Gott, dich loben wir” (“Lord God, Thy Praise We Sing”) and an additional surprise performance.  

“After having to postpone this production for two years, I am excited to bring the Harlem Renaissance composer Nathaniel Dett’s oratorio The Ordering of Moses to our community. What I hope is that this story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt after a series of plagues will foreshadow our own triumphant emergence from this pandemic” says producer Liz Player “I love that the spiritual  ‘Go Down, Moses’, which is also a message of Black liberation, is interwoven throughout the oratorio. This is especially timely after all we have endured during the past two years with the pandemic and the reckoning of anti-Black racism. As we approach Juneteenth, the second year of its being recognized as a national holiday, I hope this music uplifts and unites us all in celebration of Freedom Day for every single one of us.”

“Nathaniel Dett’s oratorio was composed in 1932 as monarchs and dictators were seizing power and committing genocide around the world. The piece is a meditation on the Moses in those of us who are willing to speak out against oppression wherever it is.” says concert host Terrance McKnight (WQXR Radio and Artistic Advisor to The Harlem Chamber Players).

About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.