Were You There (1917)


Were You There (1917)

Mezzo-soprano Lucia Bradford and the Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra perform Harry T. Burleigh’s concert spiritual “Were You There” (1917). Arranged for string orchestra by Dr. Thomas Cunningham, this unique performance was part of the orchestra’s “Lineage and Heritage” series in which the Harry T. Burleigh Society and the Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra joined to present works by Harry T. Burleigh (1866-1949) and S. Coleridge Taylor (1875-1912). The friendship of these African American and African English men provided mutual support that inspired them to create works that embraced underrepresented black musical and literary themes which shaped turn of the 20th century culture. With a transatlantic approach, they were active in the intellectual circles of their day, corresponding with Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois. This concert invites listeners to consider their production of western music, not outside, but within the veil. 

The concert took place on Friday, March 9, 2018 at Calvary Church, of the Calvary-St. George’s Parish where Burleigh was baritone soloist for over 50 years. 

Performance Venue: 

Calvary Church, of the Calvary-St. George’s Parish


Burleigh, Harry T.

Date of Composition: 


Performing Artists:

  • Lucia Bradford, mezzo-soprano

  • Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra

  • Dr. Thomas Cunningham, arrangement