Arild Remmereit leading tribute to Frederick Douglass at Fringe

05:00 AM, Sep 15, 2013

Arild Remmereit Arild Remmereit is the new conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. He was photographed in the Eastman Theater. FOR FEAT (Democrat & Chronicle, Photo by Annette Lein, 091911) (Annette Lein)/


Written By Catherine Roberts | Lead Local Editor/Life

Rochester’s ghosts inspire Arild Remmereit.

Susan B. Anthony and the other suffragists greatly influenced his programming while he was with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and he also started to study the influences of the abolitionist movement here.

Remmereit has been doing a lot more reading about Frederick Douglass in recent months, and the program the Rochester Chamber Orchestra will play under his baton on Thursday at the Fringe is a tribute to Douglass.

The man is, for me, one of the greatest human beings … what a symbol to come around,” he says. “There is an awareness of not only the politics around abolitionism, but also world politics. This man speaks up for women, he speaks up for Native Americans, he speaks up for the Jews in Frankfurt.”

Much of what Douglass wrote about, Remmereit says, unfortunately is valid today. Using Douglass as an inspiration, he says, could help leaders bridge the divide of race and poverty in Rochester.

In between the music, the chamber orchestra program will feature community leaders reading from the North Star, Douglass’ newspaper. Participants include the Rev. Lawrence Hargrave of Asbury First United Methodist Church, the Rev. Robert Werth of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini parish, Bishop Reginald McGill of New Life Ministries Inc., author and consultant Ruth Scott, Delores Jackson Radney of Kuumba Consultants and the Rev. Rachel McGuire of Immanuel Baptist Church.

David Shakes and David Anderson, well-known in the arts community, partly for their Rochester history contributions, coordinated the readings and added dramatic interludes to the show. Thomas Warfield and the Rochester Institute of Technology/National Technical Institute for the Deaf Dance Company will perform.

Leslie Fagan, a rising Canadian soprano, will solo with the string orchestra.

The program features the music of William Grant Still, the first African-American composer to have his symphony performed by a major orchestra. “His music is not performed enough,” Remmereit says. On the program are “Citadel,” “Golden Days from Costaso,” “Mother and Child” and “Phantom Chapel.”

The orchestra also will perform “Sonata Da Chiesa (Church Sonata)” by contemporary African-American composer and Rochester native Adolphus Hailstork and “Fire Mountain Intermezzo” by Beth Denisch.

The program is at 8 p.m. Thursday at Kilbourn Hall. Tickets are $15 (and available at Wegmans as well as rochesterfringe.com).