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February 20, 2020


Nkeiru Okoye’s New Symphonic Experience,
Black Bottom, Makes its World Premiere with Detroit Symphony Orchestra

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A composer with a gift for incorporating many influences and styles within her work, Nkeiru Okoye is perhaps best known for her opera, Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed that Line to Freedom, the orchestral work, Voices Shouting Out, which she composed as an artistic response to 9/11, and her suite, African Sketches, which has been performed by pianists around the globe. Profiled in both the Music of Black Composers Coloring Book and Routledge’s African American Music: An Introduction textbook, Dr. Okoye is also the inaugural recipient of the Florence Price Award for Composition. A recent New York Times article mentioned, “Okoye’s work would make a fitting grand opening for an opera company’s post-pandemic relaunch.”


In March 2020, the State of Michigan issued a proclamation acknowledging Dr. Okoye’s “extraordinary contributions” to the history of Detroit, Michigan, for Black Bottom, a symphonic experience commissioned by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, in celebration of the centennial season of Orchestra Hall. Her other recent works include Tales from the Briar Patch, a sung story, commissioned by The American Opera Project, and Charlotte Mecklenburg,  commissioned by the Charlotte Symphony.  Some of her upcoming compositions for the 2021-2022 season include Euba’s Dance, for cellist Matt Haimowitz, When young spring comes for pianist and NPR Host, Laura Downes, and a micro-opera, 600 Square Feet, for Cleveland Opera Theatre.  


Dr. Okoye is a board member of Composers Now!. She holds a BM in Composition from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and a PhD in Music Theory and Composition from Rutgers University.


Partial listing of performing ensembles, festivals and venues

Atlanta University Center-wide Orchestra • Boston Landmarks Orchestra • Buffalo Philharmonic • Cambridge Symphony Orchestra • Castle of our Skins • Central Michigan State University Orchestra • Central Jersey Symphony Orchestra • Charlotte Symphony Orchestra • Cleveland Opera Theater • Colour of Music Festival Orchestra • Composers Now! • DaCapo Players • Detroit Symphony • Downtown Music Productions • Essex County College Choir • Fort Collins Symphony • Gateways Music Festival Orchestra • Grand Rapids Symphony • Harlem Opera Theater • Hartford Opera Theater • Indianapolis Symphony • Lyric Fest • Mississippi Symphony • Mt. Holyoke College Orchestra • National Women’s Music Festival Orchestra • New Brunswick Chamber Orchestra • New Horizons Orchestra • New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Chamber Players • Oberlin Opera Theater • Opera On Tap • Philadelphia Orchestra • Richmond Symphony • Rutgers University Symphony Orchestra • Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra members • South Bend Youth Symphony Orchestra • South Shore Opera Company of Chicago • String Orchestra of Brooklyn • San Diego State University Orchestra members • Tacoma Symphony • Toledo Symphony • Three on Three Productions • University City Orchestra (St. Louis, MO) • Virginia Symphony Orchestra • Western Piedmont Symphony Orchestra • Youngstown Symphony Orchestra

© 2017 by Nkeiru Okoye.