(Philadelphia, July 1, 2021)—The Philadelphia Orchestra is pleased to announce the appointment of Charlotte Blake Alston as storyteller, narrator, and host, effective immediately. Alston has appeared as host and narrator on The Philadelphia Orchestra’s School and Family concerts since 1991 and is in her 27th season as host of the popular interactive preschool concert series Sound All Around. She has also appeared on the Orchestra’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Tribute Concerts since 2003, reciting the stirring words of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech set to Barber’s Adagio for Strings. Alston also collaborated with Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin in Bernstein’s Symphony No. 3 (“Kaddish”) in January 2019 to wide acclaim. Most recently, she hosted the performance by musicians of the Orchestra at Penn’s Landing as part of the Wawa Welcome America celebration.
“It is only fitting that we recognize Charlotte Blake Alston’s three decades of work as a cherished creative partner of the Orchestra by adding her to our official roster of artistic partners,” said President and CEO Matías Tarnopolsky. “A gifted writer with a gifted voice, she has helped to tell The Philadelphia Orchestra’s story and connect our music with generations of Philadelphians for decades. We are grateful to Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin for recommending Charlotte for this role, and we look forward to many years of being inspired by her creativity as a narrator, storyteller and host.”
Alston is an internationally acclaimed storyteller, narrator, singer, and librettist. She has performed in venues across North America and abroad, bringing her stories and songs to national and regional festivals, schools, universities, museums, libraries, and performing arts centers, as well as local and national radio and television. She has worked on Carnegie Hall’s Preschool concert series, and from 1995 to 2016 she was the featured host, storyteller, and narrator on Carnegie’s Family and School concert series. Alston has been a featured artist at the National Storytelling Festival, the National Festival of Black Storytelling, the Smithsonian Institute, and at regional festivals throughout North America and abroad, as well as at both the Presidential Inaugural Festivities in Washington, D.C., and the Pennsylvania Gubernatorial Children’s Inaugural Celebrations in Harrisburg, PA. She was also one of two storytellers selected to present at the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. She has been guest narrator for several orchestras and has worked on documentaries including Plenty of Good Women Dancers, The Peddie School, and Crosstown.
Alston has produced several commissioned works for orchestras and opera companies including original narrative texts for Carnival of the Animals and Sheherazade. She has also worked with The Philadelphia Orchestra as a librettist and written a text with multiple story lines for a special set of “Choose Your Own Adventure” concerts for school and family audiences for the Orchestra. She holds two honorary Ph.D.s and received the Circle of Excellence Award from the National Storytelling Association. She is also a recipient of the Zora Neale Hurston Award, the highest award bestowed by the National Association of Black Storytellers.
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