Monday, August 3, 2015

African Musical Arts Presents the 2015-2016 Intercultural Music Initiative Concert Season

August 30th, 2015
Trinity Presbyterian Church
October 18th, 2015
Parkway UCC Auditorium
December 27, 2015
Location TBA
April 17 and 18, 2016
560 Music Center
Trinity Presbyterian Church

African Musical Arts is pleased to announce its 
2015-2016 Season!

The season kicks off on August 30th with "Music
from the Storm," a concert
commemorating ten years since Hurricane
Katrina, a storm that nearly decimated 
a large portion of our music archive 
manuscripts stored 
in New Orleans.  

October 18th's "A Cappella Africa" concert will feature meditation music for flute and 
voices, and December 27th brings our annual free 
"Celebrate Kwanzaa" concert.

The season ends next April with our "Season Finale: 
Tribute to Great African Composers," a five 
movement work written by our founder and 
President Fred Onovwerosuoke in 2009.  The concert 
will feature members of the St. Louis Women's Hope 
Chorale, St. Louis Children's Choirs, Legend Singers, 
Ambassadors of Harmony, and more.  The concert 
will also feature renowned violinist and mezzo-soprano 
Tona Brown, as well as acclaimed guest conductor 
Marlon Daniel.  

Mark these dates on your calendar, and buy your 
tickets today!    

We'll see you soon.
All the best,
Your friends at African Musical Arts

Tickets for August/October Concerts:

  • $15 for adults

  • $7 for students and seniors

Tickets for Season Finale:

  • $25 for adults

  • $10 for students and seniors

Subscribe to all four concerts for a 15% discount on ticket prices.  Subscribers also receive invitations to VIP rehearsals before concerts, as well as a donor reception.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

On Albany Records Troy 1478, George Walker’s Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano is paired with his historic 1967 performance of the Beethoven ‘Emperor Concerto’

George Walker (b. 1922) 
has a website at
and is featured at

"The cover photo, provided by the international award-winning playwright, actor and producer, Ian Walker, co-founder of Second Wind Productions in San Francisco, is a scene near Valdez, Alaska."

George Walker: Composer and Performer
George Walker: Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano
Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 (Emperor)
Albany Records Troy 1478 (2014)

The Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano is performed by George Walker, on piano, and his son Gregory Walker on violin. The Movement times are 5:49, 2:28 and 4:40.                                                                                                        The notes tell us: “George Walker’s pianistic 
career began in 1945 with an acclaimed 
New York recital in Town Hall. This was 
followed two weeks later by a performance 
of the Third Piano Concerto of Rachmaninoff 
with the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted
by Eugene Ormandy.” 

Gregory Walker’s career is introduced this 
way by the booklet notes: “Since his 2009 
Philadelphia Orchestra debut (Walker Violin 
Concerto premiere) praised by the 
American Record Guide as a performance 
of ‘precision and rapturous immediacy,’ 
violinist Gregory Walker has gained 
international recognition as an official NS 
Design and Zeta electric violin artist.’  The 
booklet notes also tell us: “A Professor at 
the University of Colorado in Denver and 
artistic director of the Colorado NeXt Music 
Fest, Gregory Walker has been featured on 
National Public Radio, in Strings Magazine 
and on the cover of the April 2007 
International Musician.                                                                                                                                    
The liner notes say: "The Sonata No. 2 for 
Violin and Piano, commissioned by the 
Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 
was completed in 1979." We are 
told of the third movement: "A fragment 
of the spiritual, 'Let Us Break Bread 
Together,' is introduced near the end of 
the movement.  Its normally
contemplative quality is transformed into 
an anguished cry."  

The Beethoven performance is a historic 
release which was given live in 1967 by 
the Smith-Amherst Orchestra, with the 
late Edwin London conducting, the liner 
notes tell us.  The notes continue: "The 
Smith-Amherst Orchestra consisted
almost entirely of students from these 
two colleges.  The Beethoven Concerto
was performed on a program given in the 
John M. Greene Auditorium of Smith
College in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Beethoven's 'Emperor Concerto' was on 
the only classical recording this
reviewer owned as a college student, 
and was played hundreds of times.  That
personal history makes George Walker's 
passionate and vivid rendition of the
work all the more satisfying.
performance has become our new 
favorite interpretation of the work.

With this recording, Albany Records 
continues its impressive series of CDs
devoted to the artistry of esteemed 
composer and pianist George Walker.

Disclosure: A review copy of
recording was provided by
record label.

Comment by email:
Hello Bill, Many thanks. I'm particularly pleased that you like my performance of the Beethoven Emperor Concerto.  Best regards.  George [George Walker]

Goethe Institut San Francisco: ID-Withoutcolors: Institutionalized Racism in Germany, Wednesday, September 9, 2015 - 6:30 pm film, 7:15 pm panel discussion

Copyright Riccardo Valsecchi

ID-Withoutcolors: Institutionalized Racism in Germany

Documentary film screening as part of the exhibition “Homestory Deutschland - Black Biographies in Historical and Present Times"

Film & Panel discussion
Wednesday, September 9, 2015 - 6:30 pm film, 7:15 pm panel discussion
Goethe-Institut San Francisco
530 Bush Street
San Francisco
German with English subtitles
Suggested donation: $5
+1 (415) 263-8768 

At the beginning of 2012, the administrative court of Koblenz, in Western Germany, dismissed a complaint by a black German man who was asked to show his papers while traveling by train. The judges ruled that skin color was reasonable grounds on which to carry out ID checks. The sentence confirmed for the first time the existence and practice of racial profiling in Germany. 

On August 13th, Flutronix will release their new EP, City of Breath, a collection of four tracks that highlight the duo's classical flute playing

Flutronix is Nathalie Joachim and Allison Loggins-Hull

New EP: "City of Breath"

Available August 13th

On August 13th, Flutronix will release their new EP, City of Breath, a collection of four tracks that highlight the duo's classical flute playing, while staying true to their unique urban art-pop style.  Listen to their new single from City of Breath, Flock (Acoustic Version),  now streaming on Soundcloud.  

John Malveaux: How Music Can Heal Our Brain and Heart | Kathleen M. Howland | TEDxBerkleeValencia

John Malveaux of 

Ted Talk-Music from womb to tomb

John Malveaux

Published on May 27, 2015
Music therapy is an ancient and yet very modern practice that has the power to heal and transform our brains and bodies in significant ways. Kathleen Howland, speech language and music therapist explains how music really does have the power to heal our brain and heart. 

Themed Changing Currents, TEDxBerkleeValencia welcomes leading international innovators, entrepreneurs, creative business people, and artists from diverse countries representing music, fashion and design, the environment, technology and religion. The second edition of TEDxBerkleeValencia, which took place at L’Oceanogràfic, the largest aquarium in Europe, addressed several notions of change - paradigm shifts; movement, both physical and societal; and new tendencies across multiple disciplines.

TEDxBerkleeValencia website:

Kathleen M. Howland is a certified music therapist and licensed speech language pathologist. For the past 30+ years, she has worked with a variety of clinical populations using music to enhance speech, language, cognition and movement in habilitation and rehabilitation settings. Her doctoral studies in music and cognition have informed and supported her interest in bridging the communities of science and art in order to identify best practices. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses at Berklee College of Music and the Boston Conservatory in music therapy, neuroscience and positive psychology.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at Scott Joplin Texarkana Mural Restoration Project Underway [Joplin's great niece Laerma White, painted the commemorative first stroke]

Scott Joplin MuralTexarkana Gazette

(Carol M. Highsmith LOC)

Scott Joplin (c.1867-1917) is profiled at, which features a Bibliography and comprehensive Works List for by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma,

Jul 28, 2015 10:43 AM EDT | Ian Holubiak (

According to KSLA, Joplin's great niece Laerma White, painted the commemorative first stroke to refresh the mural tribute and commented:
"It is a gift from God to be able to play music like he did and it is a gift from God to be able to be recognized and even though he passed on now, he is still being recognized for that gift. I am so thankful for that."
Its also been noted that the new look is part of a project sponsored by Texarkana Arts and Historic District that will cost between $10,000 and $12,000.
Scott Joplin was a Texarkanian native born in 1867 and coined some of the time's biggest hits, ushering in an era of blues and rock the predated the likes of Robert Johnson and Muddy Water.  Some of his well-known works include "Treemonisha," "Maple Leaf Rag" and "The Entertainer.  Mr. Joplin died in 1917.
Currently, the artist leading the restoration venture is Arthur Pletcher, who says it will take a minimum of four weeks to complete the work.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

African American Composer Initiative News - Save the Date, January 30 & 31, 2016

Valerie Capers 2015
We musicians of the African American Composer Initiative send you warm mid-summer greetings! We are pleased to share some wonderful news with you and to let you know of our exciting plans for our 2016 benefit concerts. Please mark your calendar for Saturday and Sunday, January 30 and 31, 2016 at 3 pm.

We are thrilled to present a musical celebration of a living legend, Valerie Capers. Joining her will be the brilliant bassist John Robinson, our core group of musicians, and guest artists from the jazz and classical worlds.
Gratefully we announce that AACI has been awarded a 
generous $10,000 grant, along with matching 
grants, by the Carpenter Fund of the 
Philanthropic Ventures Foundation. This support 
will make it possible to continue our joyful mission 
of bringing the people of our community together to 
experience the amazing and powerful music of 
African American composers in live concerts. The 
matching grants will make contributions by our 
donors go twice as far in covering production and 
commissioning costs. AACI continues to donate all 
ticket proceeds to the marvelous Eastside College 
Preparatory School of East Palo Alto.

Our connection with the Center for Black Music 
Research at Columbia College in Chicago continues 
to deepen and grow. Their archives now house new 
musical scores by Valerie Capers, John Robinson, 
and Joshua McGhee, as well as archival DVDs of all
AACI concerts, representing over twenty-five African 
American composers. In June, Jodi Gandolfi made a 
fruitful visit to the archive, returning to California with 
a bounty of beautiful music to share in upcoming 

We appreciate you, our enthusiastic audience 
members and supporters, and can’t wait to share 
another program with you!

With best wishes,

LaDoris Cordell, Jodi Gandolfi, and Deanne Tucker for

For more information on the African American 
Composer Initiative, please visit:

Copyright © 2015 African American Composer Initiative,
All rights reserved.

Dominique-René de Lerma: Musical America: The Question Of Opera in America, Answers From 1915

Dominique-René de Lerma

On 24 July 1915, Musical America carried the following item -- entitled "How can we make opera an American institution?" -- by Dr. P. J. Grant, a music lover and journalist from Massachusetts who spent a number of years in Germany.

This Form of Art Must Have a Home Built by Direct Taxation or Popular Subscription—Project Would Have .Better Chance in Cities Where Women Voters Could Force the Issue—American Impresario Essential, Also Native Singers and Opera in English

Is opera practically possible in America? Yes and no.
Possible, if we regard music as one of life’s necessities—just as necessary as food and drink and clothing. Impossible if we are to look upon it, as unfortunately we have done in the past, as the luxury of the rich, a society function where Mrs. Railroad Magnate and Mrs. Porkpacker can sit well forward in their boxes and display their rich jewels to the admiring or envious gaze of two or three thousand of already arrived, nearly arrived or on the way-a society function from which 90 percent of the decent-minded American public are excluded—and I believe purposely so—by the preposterous prices charged.

Foreign Impresarios Detrimental
Opera will be impossible as long as it is not given in the language of the people. You cannot persuade the great American public to take an interest in what it does not understand.
At the present time society goes, not because it cares a red cent for opera, but because it regards it as a social duty, or because it wishes to see or be seen. It is a part of its social slavery, not an intellectual treat; not a great humanizing work which brings it into closer touch with its fellow man and the beautiful things of life.
As such opera is a degradation, not an uplifting. Can you wonder that the decent-minded American will have nothing to do with it? Has nothing for it but contempt? And therefore as far as he is concerned it is a failure—does not exist?

Patience Required
Is opera practically possible in America? I wish I could find a word strong and emphatic enough to express my abiding and absolute belief that it is. But before we can make it a success we must realize that the task ahead of us is not an easy one; in fact, it is a herculean one. It is a task that will require patience, more patience, and then some more.
And first there is a big obstacle which we must get out of the way; it is the word “art.” It is a word I am fast coming to hate, not because of the word itself but because of the people who use it. They have been so engrossed with the letter that they have entirely lost sight of the spirit. They have made of it a perverted holy of holies whose light is too dazzling for the eyes of the common people, within whose sanctuary their unholy feet must not tread. They have set themselves up as prophets, whereas they are nothing more than monumental asses whose stubborn hoofs bar the road to progress.

Music as Humanizing Force
Let us forget for the moment that music is an art. Let us try to look upon it as a great, big humanizing influence, an influence for better and holier things as necessary a part of life as food, drink and clothing and work. And let me say here that I have taken opera because it has the wider and more popular appeal.
But to get down to the practical side of the question. What must we do?
Well, before we can have opera we must provide it with a home, and that home must be the gift of the people either by direct taxation or popular subscription. It must not be the gift of a multimillionaire. Why not? Because from that moment the people’s interest in it is killed, or if they have any it is a resentful interest that bodes ill for the opera house’s success.

Personal Sense of Ownership
But if John Smith or Tom Brown has given up his dollar freely or by taxation it will be quite otherwise; proudly he will point it out to the stranger. “That’s our opera house; they soaked me a couple of dollars for it, so I suppose a few of the bricks belong to me. Guess I’ll have to go in some time and see what they’re doing in there.”
Can it be done? Well, let us see what they have done in Germany. There they have at least a hundred opera houses, most of them municipal and therefore built by public taxation. Let us take one of these as an example. The opera house at Cologne. I take Cologne because it is familiar to most American tourists. It has a population of about half a million and its opera house cost its people eight million marks, or nearly two million dollars.

System in Cologne
There for nine months of the year— not for three or four nights of the week but every night of those nine months—opera is given at prices ranging for the best seats from $1 to $2, according to the opera given. A seat in the gallery will cost you a quarter; if you have sturdy legs and don’t mind the standing—well, you can stand for 50 pfennings (12 cents).
Impossible, you say? How can they give good opera or pay their artists decent wages? My dear reader, I have lived several years in Germany. I have seen opera performances in most of its cities and I have never seen a really bad performance. Haven’t you the proof right here? Where do we get the artists for German opera if not from Germany?
As to the pay. The American tenor at Freiburg in Breisgau, a town of not quite 85,000 people, received a salary of $6,000 for a season of eight months. Not so bad, eh?

Opera Part of Normal Lives
You see opera in Germany is a normal part of the normal lives of normal people. They do not ask for the exotic any more than they would ask for caviar with every meal. They would see in the vocal pyrotechnics of Signor “Bullvoci” a blasphemy on art fit more for the monkey house than the stage of an artistic institution.
In Cologne I know one young American singer who was receiving a salary of 8000 marks ($2,000). The director of one of our American opera houses offered her a thousand less than she was receiving in Germany.
In Cologne the director (he is also the head of the municipal play house) is engaged for a period of three years. If he wishes to be re-engaged he must show results, and he can only show results by employing the best material. He is not influenced by the social set. He is not responsible to them but to the people. He can keep down the deficit in no other way.

Deficit of $150,000
In Cologne the deficit is usually about $150,000. The people pay this cheerfully and willingly because it is to them as much a municipal necessity as clean streets or a good police force.
You can go from busy, populous Cologne with its 500,000 souls to tiny Cottbus with its 50,000 and there you find one of the prettiest little opera houses you ever laid eyes on, with lounging room, billiard room and library for the use of the artists. “What,” you exclaim, “grand opera and a grand opera house in a town of 50,000 inhabitants? What are you trying to give us?” Well, if you don‘t believe me ask Walker, a young American basso who began his career there.
Germany is three-fourths the size of Texas. It has about three-fourths of our population and in wealth it does not begin to compare with us.

In Hands of People
Here opera is a failure (and I do not except the Metropolitan); there it is a success. Why? Because in Germany opera is in the hands of the people and is of the soul of the people.
When shall we make a beginning? Not in New York. I am forced to—and regret to—believe. I know that most New Yorkers look upon their city as the only thing worth considering and the rest of the country is a mere and a negligible item. Well, there are many intelligent Americans who look upon New York as the tail, and a very mangy one at that. They ask you what great movement for the betterment of the people ever had its birth here.

Women’s Clubs’ Opportunity
Of course it could be done if the organized Women’s Clubs took the matter in hand and went about it in the right way.
Personally I think it would have a much better chance in a city where the women have the right to vote and could force the issue. It could be a combination municipal opera and play house where opera could be given three nights of the week and a stock company could present plays the other three.
It is essentially necessary that the director be an American, one who has a heartfelt belief that the American artist of to-day, if only given the proper chance and encouragement, is the equal of any artist in the world. Our actors, our painters, our sculptors, are. Why not our opera singers?

Gain Offsets Loss
The opera must be given in English. I am perfectly willing to admit that it loses a great deal in translation; that the English language has not the smoothness of the French or liquidity of the Italian; but the loss will be far and away offset by the gain. The people will understand.
The majority of the singers must be American if not by birth at least by adoption. To meet the demands of the exotically inclined, the so-called great artists could be engaged for “guest” appearances.
Will it pay? In some ways immeasurably so. Financially I am afraid not, at least not at first. For the first three years we must expect a deficit, but we must have patience.

An Economic Advantage
Every step upward of our people means less money spent on jails, saloons and police. Every legitimate means of enjoyment withdrawn from the people, whether it be public music in the parks or public baths, means so much more time for illegitimate pleasures, and therefore an increase of crime, and increase of crime means an increase of city expenses.


Much has changed in a century.  The idea of a seat at even any regional opera for $2 is now incomprehensible; a salary of $2,000 for the year is far below poverty today, but back in 1915 bread was not $2 a loaf and one could dine at the finest restaurant for less than that.  This was written when the Metropolitan Opera was only a few decades old, and the stage as well as the pit was populated almost totally by imports from Europe.  The image in America of opera being supported by socially prominent and wealthy women has remained, along with the blessings and half truths, but does not consider the students whose seating is not in the family circle or those others who are standing or manage to secure a place closer to the roof.
This was decades before Porgy and Bess, the works of Carlisle Floyd, Richard Rodgers, and particularly before West Side story, Troubled island,  and The life and times of Malcolm X.  A distinctly American musical theater evolved, partly due to the German Singspiel and, to a greater extent, the atavistic need for musical theater that is an historical fact from Africa. No need to translate these works into English; the composers started with the rhythms and implications of the language, while the French, Germans, British, and Russians had to adjust their music so it differed from the Italian.
But for the American opera goer to enjoy the works of Bizet, Wagner, and Tschaikovsky (Britten was no problem), they either had to endure the change in Klangideal with a translation, or admit that God's native tongue was not English.  The translations that Ruth and Thomas Martin made of Mozart seemed to work quite well, but I would not wish for Isolde to be an Anglophone nor to hear L'enfant et les sortiléges in English! 
During my 18 years in the pit with the Miami Opera Company, Salvatore Baccaloni was engaged for Gianni Schichi.  While the rest of the cast sang their parts in English, he refused to give up the original Italian.  In Baroque England, the arias remained in Italian, while the recitativi were sometimes translated for the linguistically handicapped.
There still remains the financial problem.  If every seat is sold, there might very well be a significant budgetary shortcoming.  Enter the jewellery-bedecked socialite, the corporations, the foundations.  Where are the others, those who celebrate the ghetto they left behind, and those who provide millions to determine a political election, thereby hoping to eliminate the schedule impositions of the voter on election day?  Many of these argue against big government (is that no longer of the people, by the people, and for the people?), who for now let alone such socialistic activities as free education, health issues, highways, police service, and social security.   And now is the prospect that public education not stop with high school! Suggest to them, as Dr. Grant has done, that the theater should be added to this list, and European socialism is joined with liberalism as an anti-American blasphemic obscenity, calling for the revival of both Joseph McCarthy and Archie Bunker.  I'll stick with Verdi and Bernstein.

Dominique-René de Lerma