When Kay George Roberts embarked on her career in the mid-60s the odds were overwhelmingly against her. Being a black woman, she encountered stiff though polite resistance in her native Nashville; after all, blacks had traditionally been allowed to play only in their own orchestras. But Roberts slowly forged ahead, and her violin skills won her a spot in the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, one of its youngest members ever. In 1976 she made her podium debut with the same orchestra–the first black woman to do so in the south. At Yale University she earned another distinction, becoming the flrst woman to receive a doctorate in conducting there. Unfortunately Roberts remains a rarity in a field that still only pays lip service to minority recruitment. Though busy as a guest maestro with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony, and most notably the Black Music Repertory Ensemble of Chicago–she has no permanent post other than as the head of the Ensemble Americana in Stuttgart, which she founded to promote contemporary American music in Germany. It’s Roberts the new-music missionary who’ll be leading the Grant Park Symphony in this concert at the South Shore Cultural Center. On the program are New Morning for the World (1982) by the Chicago-born Joseph Schwantner, a neoromantic who teaches at the Eastman School, and Globol Warming (1994), an ingeniously crafted paean to environmentalism by the LA-based Michael Abels. Rounding out the bill are Beethoven’s Egmont Overture and William Grant Still’s Symphony no. 3 (Still is an elder statesman among black composers). Alonzo Spellman, a Bears defensive end, is the narrator in New Morning. Thursday, July 7, 7 PM, South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Dr.; 819-0614.