I Dream a World: The Harlem Renaissance and Beyond

I Dream a World


The New World Symphony presents I Dream a World: The Harlem Renaissance and Beyond, February 1-5, 2022 at the New World Center. The festival explores and celebrates the history and influence of the Harlem Renaissance and the epicenters of Black excellence that thrived across the nation during the 1920s.

Audiences will examine the movement's music, poetry, visual art, songs and impact with MTT, NWS Fellows and esteemed guests Kevin Young (Andrew W. Mellon Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and Poetry Editor for The New Yorker), musicologist Dr. Tammy Kernodle (Distinguished Professor at Miami University of Ohio), conductor Thomas Wilkins, pianist Michelle Cann, soprano Michelle Bradley and the Ambassador Chorale of Florida Memorial University.

I Dream a World: The Harlem Renaissance and Beyond is made possible with support from the NWS Collaborations Fund, the NWS Fund for New Ventures, Dr. Matthew Budd and Ms. Rosalind E. Gorin, The Robert and Jane Toll Foundation, Keith and Renata Ward Family Fund at The Miami Foundation, and Bank of America.


Click here to download the festival program book.


Welcome Statements

New World Symphony

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation studied communities, what makes them whole, coherent, vital. A primary finding, culture binds community. Culture pulls us together, builds a common bond based on sharing of artistic experiences and celebrating diversity. This festival is offered as an embrace of the entire Miami community.

The spirit of the festival can be understood in the words of the Harlem Renaissance poet Georgia Douglas Johnson. We offer her poem as a prelude to your experience of the festival performances.


Let’s build bridges here and there
Or sometimes, just a spiral stair
That we may come somewhat abreast
And sense what cannot be exprest.
And by these measures can be found
A meeting place – a common ground
Nearer the reaches of the heart
Where truth revealed, stands clear, apart;
With understanding come to know
What laughing lips will never show:
How tears and torturing distress
May masquerade as happiness:
Then you will know when my heart’s aching
And I, when yours is slowly breaking.
Commune – The altars will reveal…
We then shall be impulsed to kneel
And send a prayer upon its way
For those who wear the thorns today.
Oh, let’s build bridges everywhere
And span the gulf of challenge there.

Dr. Tammy Kernodle, Miami University of Ohio

It is my pleasure to welcome you to I Dream a World: The Harlem Renaissance and Beyond, a festival that explores the history and legacy of this artistic movement. In
a world that denied them so much, the black artisans of the Renaissance openly dreamed of a new world that was free and equal through their collective utterances,
the coupling of words, the marriage of rhythms and harmonies and the blending of color and line. The art produced by Renaissance-era artisans was multi-generational
in its scope, representing how they dialogued with the historic past and married that past to a present that was shaped by the carnage and aftermath of World War I. All
of this was done with the aim of centering art as the strategy of resistance that could initiate social change.

On this 103rd-anniversary year of the Renaissance movement, we are bringing together different communities of artists to reflect on its legacy. You might note that the words reverberation and echo have been used in the titles of some of the festival events. This was intentional as these words speak to the resonant energy and momentum precipitated by the Renaissance and they stretch beyond time, ideology, generation and geography. As we attempt to capture the full essence of the era, the sounds and images offered this week will transport you into the salons, theaters, nightclubs, rent parties, artist studios and churches that birthed and incubated this art. It is my hope that as you engage in the many performances, presentations and discussions offered, you will listen carefully to the voices of the past and consider how they continue to inform our dreams of a new world.


I Dream A World (1941)

I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom's way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind-
Of such I dream, my world!

Langston Hughes