Award-winning chamber orchestra to perform at Penn State Great Valley on Oct. 26

MALVERN, Pa. — Have you ever wondered what an orchestra conductor really does? Find out when the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra performs an evening of live orchestral music with a brief and fun conducting lesson at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26, at Penn State Great Valley.

Founded in 2007, the Philadelphia-based Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra was formed as a model for the 21st-century American orchestra. Known for their innovative and interactive performances, they have collaborated with some of the city’s great intuitions like the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Barnes Foundation, and Opera Philadelphia. Black Pearl’s musicians attended leading conservatories around the globe, including the Curtis Institute, Juilliard School, and Peabody Institute. The Philadelphia Inquirer has described the group as being “first class on every level.”

The Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra is led by founder Jeri Lynne Johnson, who is considered one of the top female conductors in the world. She’s worked with many esteemed groups, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Colorado Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Chicago Sinfonietta, Bournemouth Symphony in England, and the Weimar Staatskapelle in Germany. Johnson’s repertoire is broad; in addition to performing classical works, she’s collaborated with Jay Z, Alicia Keys, and hip-hop band The Roots at Carnegie Hall. She’s received many civic, community and artistic honors, including recognition as a Woman of Distinction from the Philadelphia Business Journal in 2011.

“We are excited to come to Penn State Great Valley and introduce Black Pearl to a new audience,” said Johnson. "Classical music has struggled with diversifying its audience. Often, the perception is that classical music is for the older, European/American demographic. It may not have popular appeal that other genres may have, but I think that with Black Pearl's diverse musicians, classical music is really for everyone."

By combining artistic excellence with cultural diversity, the engaging group aims to take Penn State Great Valley’s audience from spectators to participants. Attendees will enjoy a hands-on experience as they encounter the power and excitement of making music. Highlights of the evening will include orchestral favorites such as the works of J S Bach, Aaron Copland, Mozart, Vivaldi, Dr. George Walker, and William Grant Still.  

The concert will take place in the Warren V. Musser Auditorium inside the campus' Conference Center Building. The event is free, but advanced tickets are required and can be obtained at