Uri Caine illuminates the wondrous life and tragic death of Octavius Catto

Statue of Octavius Catto outside Philadelpohia City Hall
Photo Alec Rogers © 2018 for the Association for Public Art

Before Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Colin Kaepernick, 19th century Philadelphian civil rights activist Octavius Catto helped to integrate his city's public transit, challenge baseball's color line, and register Black men to vote. Only in the last decade, though, has Catto's story begun to be told, and composer and pianist Uri Caine is one person working to tell that story.

This October, Caine, whose The Passion of Octavius Catto recounts the eponymous character's life and assassination, joins University of Chicago Associate Professor Travis Jackson to discuss Catto's life and legacy and the ways that music can give life to history and be an instrument of social change. Tune in for an engaging conversation on Tuesday, October 6, and plan to join us in April for the Chicago premiere of The Passion of Octavius Catto.


Uri Caine headshot

The Passion of Octavius Catto: A Discussion with Uri Caine and Associate Professor Travis Jackson

Thursday | Oct 6 | 6:30pm CDT

Free – Register Here

Presented with support from the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture.


Close-up on statue of Octavius Catto outside Philadelpohia City Hall
Photo Alec Rogers © 2018 for the Association for Public Art

The Octavius V. Catto – Memorialized at Last

A Quest for Parity: The Octavius V. Catto Memorial, created by artist Branly Cadet, was unveiled outside of the Philadelphia City Hall in 2017, nearly 150 years after the assassination of the political activist, educator, and professional baseball player it memorializes. You can see and read more about the sculpture – and about Catto's life – on the Association for Public Art's website.

Read more>>


Uri Caine leaning on railing

Uri Caine on Octavius Catto and their Shared Hometown

Born and raised in Philadelphia, it comes as no surprise that pianist and composer Uri Caine would be drawn to a figure that was pivotal to the city's history. His musical influences, too, bely his roots, shifting effortlessly between classical, jazz, and contemporary styles. Last April, Caine sat down with JazzTimes to talk about his background and musical influences, and how it all came together in The Passion of Octavius Catto.



Listen to The Passion of Octavius Catto

The Passion of Octavius Catto was originally commissioned by the Mann Center for Music and the Philadelphia Orchestra to celebrate the unveiling of the memorial statue at the Philadelphia City Hall. After that premier performance, Caine and conductor André Raphel knew they had to share the piece and story wider, and they began a Kickstarter campaign that resulted in a recording released in 2019. Listen to the recording on Spotify or Apple Music, and join us for a discussion on the ways music can give life to history on Tuesday, October 6 at 6:30pm CDT.

Listen to the album on Spotify >>