World premiere of Hymn to Freedom choral arrangement debuts Friday

A new arrangement of Oscar Peterson's "Hymn to Freedom" will have its world premiere in Waterloo on Friday, a tribute to Canadian Black history.
Canadian jazz pianist Oscar Peterson and singer Ella Fitzgerald performing at a piano together at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London, July 18, 1980. (Getty Images)

A new arrangement of Oscar Peterson's Hymn to Freedom will have its world premiere in Waterloo on Friday, a tribute to Canadian Black history.

In the United States, Lift Every Voice and Sing is considered the American Black national anthem, Lauris DaCosta told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo. 

"I had this idea that we should have a version that would be Canadian, using Oscar Peterson's Hymn to Freedom," DaCosta said.

"We do have a very unique Black history, Canadian Black history, that not many people seem to know."

She ran the idea past Oliver Jones, a good friend of the late Peterson, and Kelly Peterson, Oscar's wife, who gave her their blessing. The new choral arrangement was done by Corey Butler, musical director of the Juno Award-winning Toronto Mass Choir. 

The hymn will be sung by Laura Mae Lindo as the featured soloist, alongside a community choir directed by Darren Hamilton, artistic director of the Waterloo Region Mass Choir, and Lee Willingham from Wilfrid Laurier's music program. 

The free concert is at First United Church in Waterloo at 8:00 p.m. on Friday. 

With files from the CBC's Kate Bueckert


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