Our first rehearsal took place in January of 2020 which included a masterclass with Charles Dickerson III, director and founder of the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles. From the onset of the Columbus Cultural Orchestra (CCO), the Artistic Director’s wish was to start an ensemble in Columbus that focused on playing new styles of music from the African-American tradition. The Artistic Director gathered some of his former students and musician friends and sight read some music for a few hours. Afterwards, everyone ate a meal together and the Artistic Director presented his vision to launch an orchestra focused on playing new styles of music from the African-American tradition. It should be noted that Mr. Dickerson paid his own expenses to travel to Columbus, paid for each musician to attend, and paid for the catering.
CCO is a chamber ensemble made up of string players. Each Saturday they rehearse at Faith Covenant Church in Columbus where they play a variety of music covering genres such as jazz, hip-hop, and classical. Most of the works they perform are arrangements by the Artistic Director. So far, they have produced four concerts since their founding in January 2020. Their first performance was at Broad Street Presybterian Church as part of an outdoor concert series on October 11, 2020. On October 17th, 2020 they put on a virtual concert at Horizon Science Academy, it was presented on Facebook Live. The ensemble then performed for the Friday Night Music on the Sidewalks series in Uptown Westerville on June 4, 2020. The Columbus Cultural Orchestra presented a sold out concert on June 19, 2021 at Flavor 91 Bistro as we celebrated Juneteenth.
CCO’s latest performance was a major success as they performed a sold out show at the Lincoln Theatre Backstage Concert Series in Columbus, Ohio on September 23, 2021. The program included music that was infused with hip-hop and r&b with classical orchestration. The concert also featured a collaboration with D.J. O Sharp and poet, Tripp Fontane. Works performed included influences from Bach to Biggie, Mozart to Miles Davis, and more.
One of CCO’s long term goals is to raise the percentage of African-American musicians that play in professional symphony orchestras. Currently, that percentage stands at 2% and we believe that through proper training and engagement, we can change this. Locally, we can impact the Columbus market and raise the number of professional African-American classical musicians by 5% in the next 5 years.
The Columbus Cultural Orchestra is led by Artistic Director, Stephen Spottswood. A board of directors serves as a volunteer support staff to Mr. Spottswood.