Julius P. Williams Composes Song for 54th Massachusetts Regiment Memorial Rededication

The Boston Children’s Chorus will perform the song, “Heroes,” at the rededication ceremony on June 1. 

May 12, 2022

Julius P. Williams, a professor in Berklee College of Music’s Composition Department, has written an original song that will be performed by the Boston Children’s Chorus at the National Rededication of the Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and 54th Massachusetts Regiment Memorial. The ceremony will take place on Wednesday, June 1, at 11:00 a.m. in front of the memorial, on Boston Common, opposite the Massachusetts State House. The event is free and open to the public.

In addition to his role as professor, Williams is the artistic director and conductor of the Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra, a composer in residence with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and cover to maestro Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Orchestra. In 2019, the award-winning conductor was named the first African American president of the Conductors Guild, a global membership organization encompassing conductors of symphony, opera, ballet, choral, band, contemporary, and chamber ensembles. And in 2020, Williams was one of three Berklee professors commissioned to write music for the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Residence Composer Project.

“On behalf of the Partnership to Renew the Shaw 54th Memorial, I want to say how thrilled we are with 'Heroes,' the composition that Julius Williams created for our national rededication of the memorial. It is stirring, powerful, and will be a perfect piece to set the stage for the ceremony,” said Elizabeth Vizza, president, Friends of the Public Garden. “We not only are celebrating the restoration of this memorial but are using the occasion as a call to action in the ongoing work of social justice and racial equity. We couldn't be happier with Williams’s piece to dramatize this moment and inspire us to this cause.”

The Partnership to Renew the Shaw 54th Memorial, made up of the National Park Service, the City of Boston, Friends of the Public Garden, and the Museum of African American History, Boston and Nantucket, oversaw the 18-month restoration. The memorial honors the courageous efforts of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and the men of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, one of the first enlisted units of Black men fighting in the American Civil War, for their service and heroism.

“I am honored and humbled to write a work that is so important to our history,” said Williams. “A regiment of African Americans who joined the army to fight for their right to exist as free people and demonstrated immense valor and bravery that can never be forgotten must always be commemorated.”

During the course of his career, Williams has composed operas, symphonies, and chorus works for stage, concert hall, film, and television. The Bronx-born conductor and pianist has recorded 10 albums, and performed with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Moscow Conservatory Symphony Orchestra, the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra of Croatia, the Costa del Sol Music Festival in Spain, and the Volvodanksa Symphony of Serbia.

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