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History

Concert of Colors:  Metro Detroit's Diversity Festival

 

The Concert of Colors is metro Detroit’s free annual diversity music festival. It is presented by Arab American National Museum, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Institute of Arts, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Midtown Detroit Inc. and ACCESS with the goal of bringing together metro Detroit’s diverse communities and ethnic groups by presenting musical acts from around the world. Over its 20-year history, the festival has become a beloved highlight of metro Detroit’s summer festival season, and one of the few free-admission music festivals remaining locally.

The Concert of Colors was established by New Detroit and ACCESS in 1993 as a one-day event at Chene Park on Detroit’s riverfront. The inaugural event drew a modest crowd to Chene Park, but by 1999, some 10,000 music lovers were coming out each year. The festival expanded to three days in 2001, when it was part of the official festivities for Detroit’s 300th birthday, drawing an audience of 100,000.

In 2005, the festival’s opening night performance was relocated to historic Orchestra Hall at the Max M. Fisher Music Center in Detroit, the recently expanded home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO). The DSO became a full partner in 2006 as the entire festival relocated to the Max M. Fisher Music Center, with two indoor stages and one outdoor stage. In 2007, the festival grew to encompass four days of free live music.

In 2010, the Detroit Institute of Arts joined this remarkable collaborative effort, becoming a second venue for Concert of Colors. In 2011, the number of festival venues expanded to four, with the addition of spoken-word performances by the Woodward Line Poetry Series at the Scarab Club and a new presenting partner, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

This year, 2012, is the 20th anniversary of Concert of Colors, and today it is one of just a handful of major area music festivals that has kept admission free. The festival, with its new title sponsor The Ford Foundation, returns July 12-15 to the DIA, the Wright Museum and the Max M. Fisher Music Center, but first, on July 7, the festival's brand new partner, Midtown Detroit Inc., gets us ready with the first-ever Concert of Colors Tune-Up Concert @ New Center Park.

Music from around the world, including the indigenous music of the Motor City, is the major focus of the Concert of Colors, but not the only focus. The festival also offers ethnic food and merchandise vendors and a children’s area featuring free family activities.

Click HERE for links to further information about the sponsors, media sponsors and presenting partners of the 2012 Concert of Colors.