Pianist and CofC director of piano studies Paul Sánchez will join operatic baritone Will Liverman to perform their new album ‘Dream of a New Day: Songs by Black Composers’ April 19 at Sottile Theater. | Photo by Paul Sánchez

Acclaimed operatic baritone Will Liverman and lauded pianist Paul Sánchez will perform their new album Dreams of a New Day: Songs by Black Composers April 19 at the Sottile Theater downtown as the finale concert in College of Charleston School of the Arts’ “International Piano Series.”

Dreams of a New Day is an evocatively beautiful array of songs by Black composers spanning from early 20th-century pioneers such as Henry Burleigh, Margaret Bonds, Thomass Kerr and Robert Owens to contemporary virtuosos Damien Sneed and Shawn Okpebholo. The album is currently nominated for a Grammy Award for best classical solo vocal album. 

“Two Black Churches” was a really important work that Will Liverman commissioned composer Shawn Okpebholo to do,” said Paul Sánchez, CofC’s director of piano studies. “Shawn wrote this music dealing with two different tragedies at two different black churches — and it became the heart of this album.”

The song, “Two Black Churches,” reflects on two horrific acts of violence carried out by white supremacists: the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Ala. that killed four girls in 1963 and the Mother Emmanuel AME Church shooting in Charleston that killed nine people in 2015.  

“Will Liverman had this idea to do something that was all by black composers, which isn’t done very much in the classical music world,” Sánchez said. “It’s music that’s underrepresented. We really wanted to take that on. We recorded the album in July of 2020 during the protests for racial justice. And the album went on to do really well. It’s been really humbling that the album spoke to people and was meaningful enough that people reacted the way that they did.”

The concert will open with a talk including Okpebholo, who wrote the song “Two Black Churches” featured on Dreams of a New Day, and Charleston poet laureate Marcus Amaker, who wrote the text to the second movement of “Two Black Churches.” 

$30 tickets for CofC’s International Piano Series finale concert at 7:30 p.m., April 19 are available through the George Street Box Office online or at the door.