The audience is invited to swing with soul when Rackham Choir proudly presents Duke Ellington’s “Sacred Concert” on April 14, 2024, at Hartford Memorial Church in Detroit.

Lacey Holmes
Submitted on

Rackham Choir in collaboration with Wayne State University Department of Music is proud to present Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concert on April 14. This rarely-heard cultural treasure is presented in collaboration with Wayne State University Department of Music and features soaring choral music with big band sounds and the energy of tap dance.

The concert program will be conducted by Brandon Waddles, Rackham's Artistic Director and Assistant Professor in Teaching, Choral Conducting and Music Education at Wayne State University. In addition to Rackham Choir, the performance features the Wayne State University Big Band and University Choirs and the “Too Hot Trio” of Marion Hayden, bass, Dave Taylor, percussion, and Alvin Waddles, piano.

Duke Ellington called his Sacred Concert “the most important thing I have ever done.” Known for his exuberant shows at The Cotton Club in New York City, Ellington has often been categorized as a jazz and blues musician. This work, however, brings together elements of classical and sacred music with swing to create an amazing masterpiece that underscores Ellington’s stature in American classical music.

The masterpiece was selected to follow on the heels of Rackham’s successful Too Hot To Handel, which fuses the Black American musical forms of jazz, blues and gospel into the Baroque era of Handel.

Duke Ellington serves as a unique voice to the complexities of the American experience. It is noteworthy that as Ellington was enjoying success with his revue at the Cotton Club, African Americans were denied entrance to the club as patrons. In the Sacred Concert, Ellington brings cultural discussions about freedom, Civil Rights and some of the social issues that concerned him in the 1960’s.

The concert takes place Sunday, April 14, 2024, beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the historic Hartford Memorial Church, located at 18700 James Couzens Freeway, Detroit, Michigan 48235.


Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors, $10 for students and free to WSU students. They are available at