This weekend at the Kimmel, the Philadelphia Orchestra will perform famed jazz trumpeter Hannibal Lokumbe’s One Land, One River, One People. Lokumbe, who prefers to go by only his first name, calls the piece a “spiritatorio,” a term he coined to reflect a piece that combines a libretto and choirs from three historically black universities — Morgan State University, Delaware State University, and Lincoln University — while drawing from blues, jazz, and spirituals.
“This work speaks to the spirituality of humanity and it’s not a rose-colored glass analogy,” Hannibal said. “This piece deals with my resolution of my spiritual self. To go from the ‘black & white only’ water fountains…I lived through that stuff.”
Hannibal was raised by his mother — who he calls his “queen” — in Texas farm country during the 1950s, as the country was heading into the Civil Rights Movement. He considers his mother his greatest inspiration.
“Women have always played a great role in my life,” he said. “I was raised by my mother so my sensibilties are first feminine. I learned a great deal from that mother mind, from that birthing mind and it has influenced all of my work and especially this work.”
Hannibal says that there are two bookends to his life in terms of music. The first being his composition African Portraits and the other being One Land, One River, One People. He explains what each has meant to him as a black man in America
“It comes from a person who lived that very trying reality (of Jim Crow),” he said. “This is the other book end to my life and my career.”
To hear Jennifer Lynn’s interview with Hannibal Lokumbe, Press the Play Button at the top of the page.