Arts & Entertainment

African Princess Sarah Culberson Returns as Special Guest for California Philharmonic’s Season Opener John Williams & Friends

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Culberson’s gripping reading of ‘Dry Your Tears – Afrika’ from the epic film Amistad brought the audience to its collective feet two years ago at the finale of the season. This year she opens the season with the reading. – Photo by Terry Miller

California Philharmonic welcomes special guest Sarah Culberson for its 2014 summer season opener John Williams & Friends, which takes place June 28 At Santa Anita Race Track and June 29 at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Culberson’s gripping reading of ‘Dry Your Tears – Afrika’ from the epic film Amistad, in both the original Mende (a major language in Sierra Leone, and the native language of both Culberson’s African ancestors and many, if not all, of the captured slaves aboard the original ship Amistad) and the English translation, will introduce director Steven Spielberg’s powerful reenactment of an 1839 shipboard slave rebellion. The score, composed by Williams, was nominated for both the Academy Award and Grammy for Best Original Score.

“We are thrilled that Sarah Culberson is joining California Philharmonic for ‘Dry Your Tears, Afrika’ during our season opener,” said California Philharmonic Maestro Victor Vener, who idea it was to incorporate Sarah into the performance in order to make an even greater impact for the listener. “Sarah possesses a strong and powerful presence that captivates audiences and lends an emotional authenticity to the piece. Her beautiful recitation of the poem is the perfect compliment to full orchestra and choir.”

An American woman of Mende ancestry, Culberson discovered in 2004 that she is the biological daughter of one of Sierra Leone’s chieftains and, by birthright, is officially a Princess.

Adopted when she was just one year old by a West Virginia couple and raised in the United States with little knowledge of her West African ancestry, Culberson co-authored a book with Tracy Trivas entitled A Princess Found detailing her extraordinary story.

The concert, also features father and son duo Dennis and Max Karmazyn performing the Theme from Schindler’s List, in a special arrangement for cello and violin, created especially by Max for himself and his father, as well as the finale from Brahms’ Double Concerto. In addition, the concert includes selection of pieces from some of John Williams’ most memorable scores, including Star Wars, E.T., Jaws and Jurassic Park. And if all of that isn’t enough to create a musical spectacular, the Cal Phil Chorale joins the orchestra for highlights from Karl Orff’s Carmina Burana. And on top off all that, the concert ends in typical Cal Phil style with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

Audiences throughout Southern California have options to attend extremely different experiences of Cal Phil’s one-of-a-kind concerts at two iconic venues; every other Saturday evening at Santa Anita Race Track on the infield with the beautiful unobstructed backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains or Sunday matinees at Los Angeles’ most vaunted music destination, the incomparable Walt Disney Concert Hall.

To purchase tickets to attend California Philharmonic concerts at Santa Anita Race Track, call626.300.8200 or

Tickets for Walt Disney Concert Hall are available for purchase through Ticketmaster at 800.745.3000 or online at

For further information or to schedule an interview with featured artists or Cal Phil Maestro Victor Vener, please contact Lauren Lewis at 818.970.0052 or

June 19, 2014

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