The Southeast Symphony Association Inc. announces the soloists who will be featured in their 60th Anniversary concert to be held on Sunday, July 20, at the Walt Disney Concert Hall of the Music Center in downtown Los Angeles.

Disney Concert Hall is located at 111 So. Grand Avenue between 1st and 2nd Streets. Parking is available under the building with entrances on 2nd Street and lower Grand Avenue. The Walt Disney Concert Hall is considered to be one of the most acoustically perfect concert halls in the world.

This architectural landmark was designed by Frank Gehry through the vision and generosity of Lillian Disney, wife of the late Walt Disney. It was started with an initial donation of $50 million and by the time of its completion, had cost more than $100,000. This will be the first visit for the Southeast Symphony to the Disney Concert Hall and the community is looking forward to the unique experience this concert will prove to be.

Featured soloist for the concert are Althea Waites, pianist, Victoria Burnett, soprano and Cedric Berry, baritone. The program will include Rhapsody in Blue with Ms. Waites as piano soloist, and a concert version of Porgy and Bess with Ms. Burnett as Bess and Mr. Berry as Porgy.

Pianist Althea Waites has been acclaimed throughout the United States, Europe and Asia as a brilliant soloist, chamber musician and collaborative artist. In addition to performances on many of the world’s prestigious concert stages, she has also appeared in recital at major festivals such as Aspen, Tanglewood, the Yale Summer festival and the Idyllwild Arts Festival. Praised by the Los Angeles Times for “superb technique and profound musicality,” Ms. Waites has a distinguished history of performing new music by American composers and has received several awards and commendations.

She has also been a guest soloist for National Public Radio’s “Performance Today,” KQED in San Francisco and for “Sundays at Four,” a live broadcast from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Recording credits include the landmark CD “Black Diamonds” a collection of music by African American composers, which was released to rave reviews from the critics and “Along the Western Shore,” featuring works by California composers. Ms. Waites holds degrees from Xavier University of Louisiana and the Yale University School of Music, where she studied with Donald Currier. She has also studied with the late Alice Shapiro and Russell Shapiro of the New England Conservatory.

In addition to maintaining her concert schedule, Ms. Waites is currently on the keyboard faculty at the Cole Conservatory of Music at California State University, Long Beach, and is in demand for residencies and master classes at colleges and arts institutions throughout the country. Her strong commitment to cultural and community education is evident through her work with outreach and service programs in retirement homes, prisons and hospitals. She also has affiliations with Los Angeles County Music Center Education program, Chamber Music in Historic Sites and the LA Cultural Affairs Department.

Althea Waites is a Steinway artist and a member of Pi Kappa Lambda, National Music Honor Society.

Victoria Burnett is a talented and versatile performer famous as a singer, master storyteller and educator. Her initial training was completed at the University of Maryland, College Park. She has toured the world in many venues in Europe, Africa, Asia, South and Central America as a soloist. She has sung with the Spirit Chorale of Los Angeles, an a-cappella ensemble dedicated to the preservation of the African American spiritual. She has toured Korea as soloist for the Evangelistic Outreach Project of California before crowds of up to 4,000 nightly.

She is also a frequent performer on the “Hour of Power,” the internationally televised Christian ministry of Dr. Robert Schuller. Ms. Burnett was a featured artist at the Kennedy Center of Washington, D.C. where she received glowing reviews from the Washington Post.

She has sung the roles of both Bess and Serena in concertized versions of “Porgy and Bess” with the Sacramento Symphony, the San Diego symphony and most recently with the Orange County Pacific Symphony. Victoria has also performed with such artists as Clifton Davis, Andre Crouch, Della Reese, Ken Medema, Larnell Harris and Moses Hogan. She played the role of “Sistah” in Otis Sallid’s musical “Spiritual” which starred Bebe Winans.

In 2006, Ms. Burnett represented the State of California, as a featured teller at the International Story Telling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. To date, she has shared her “Stories That Sing” presentation with over 3,000 schools, libraries and corporate events.

Her performance of “Stories That Sing” on MVTV “Story time Theatre” won for her a Telly Award for Outstanding Children’s Educational Programming. She is currently a resident storyteller for the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. 

The stunning voice of Los Angeles Opera Resident artist, Cedric Berry is guaranteed to make this concert a one that everyone will always remember.  Musically trained at U.S.C. into one of the finest bass baritone opera singers in Southern California, Mr. Berry has used his gift to enchant and inspire audiences of all ages.

He has been heard all around the world along with celebrated organizations such as the Pacific Symphony, the Arizona Symphony, Fresno Philharmonic, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has given memorable performances in “Porgy and Bess,” Faust, Madame Butterfly and Carmen to name but a few. Ha has sung the roles of Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Malcolm in Macbeth, and has performed at the Savonlinna Festival in Finland.

On the concert stage, he has sung with the LA Master Chorale. Mr. Berry has received several awards including a first place award at the 1998 Metropolitan Opera Western Region Competition. His passionate voice will be a wonderful addition to the 60th Anniversary concert.

Tickets are still available for this concert at the Disney Concert Hall box office or from Ticket master on line. All other concerts in the Southeast Symphony Orchestra’s regular season are free to the public. However, admission to this benefit, anniversary concert is by ticket only.

Tickets are also available from the Southeast Symphony Office at (323) 293-SESA. 

Charles Dickerson is the Music Director and conductor of the Southeast Symphony Orchestra. Sandra Wheeler is the President of the Board of Directors for the Southeast Symphony Association. For any additional information, please call Sandra Wheeler at (310) 973-2488. The community is cordially invited to attend the concert.