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Nashville Symphony | Giancarlo Guerrero, Music Director | Karen Slack, soprano | Debo Ray, mezzo-soprano | Rodrick Dixon, tenor | Armand Hutton, bass


Hannibal Lokumbe
The Jonah People: A Legacy of Struggle and Triumph - World Premiere | Nashville Symphony Commission

“The Jonah People: A Legacy of Struggle and Triumph was created to end the suffering of a people, who could then end the suffering of a nation, who could then end the suffering of the world." – Hannibal Lokumbe

Join the Nashville Symphony and Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero this April for the world premiere of The Jonah People: A Legacy of Struggle and Triumph by the visionary composer Hannibal Lokumbe. Few artists have conveyed the African American experience as movingly and as powerfully as Lokumbe, who started as a jazz musician with Gil Evans, Elvin Jones, Art Blakey, and other greats. Bridging the worlds of jazz and classical music, he has written more than 150 works, many of which have paid tribute to civil rights leaders and iconic historical figures including Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., abolitionist John Brown, Malcolm X, and Anne Frank.

In The Jonah People, his first fully staged opera, Lokumbe calls upon his own family’s ancestry and the parable of Jonah and the Whale, finding commonality between Jonah and those who endured the Middle Passage from Africa to enslavement in the Americas. The Jonah People takes us on that journey, culminating in a celebration of those who persevered, and against all odds, maintained hope and resilience to become artistic, intellectual, scientific, literary, and spiritual visionaries whose contributions have changed our world forever.

Duke Ellington. Maya Angelou. Toni Morrison. Miles Davis. Marian Anderson. Harriet Tubman. Medgar Evers. LeBron James. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The list goes on.

None would exist without the journey, the struggles, and the lives of The Jonah People.

Tickets Starting at $29 | Group Rates Available


Content Advisory

In The Jonah People: A Legacy of Struggle and Triumph, Hannibal Lokumbe taps into his own family's legacy to trace the story of innocent Africans kidnapped from their homes, sold into slavery, shipped in squalid and atrocious conditions to the Americas and throughout the world, stripped of their identities, and oppressed in servitude. Though the subject matter is challenging, Hannibal’s message is ultimately one of peace, love, transcendence, and a celebration of the human spirit.

We encourage you to pre-read the program notes and the libretto, which notates the most challenging moments. And on behalf of Hannibal, we invite you to take in the entirety of this emotional and transformational journey.

Learn more at


Join us for Classical Conversations! One hour before the concert, enjoy a discussion of the evening's program in Balcony Lobby.

Classical Conversations is underwritten by

Blakeford Senior Life

concert partner

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Visit for a full listing of the Cast and Production teams.

We are grateful to all partners whose support has made The Jonah People: A Legacy of Struggle and Triumph possible: