Saturday, March 28, 2015

'Evangeline!' -- Making History (Again) with The Longfellow Chorus & Orchestra in "Music from The Gilded Age" with Herb Smith, Trumpet & Tia Allen, Viola

[Kaitlyn Costello, as Gabriel, and Cree Carrico, as Evangeline, are encircled by Woodside One Wheelers during "100 Years Ago March" -- the grand finale of scenes from Edward Rice's comic opera "Evangeline!" in our "Music from The Gilded Age: Boston Theatre Orchestra Collection" production last Saturday.]

Tia Allen, viola

The Longfellow Chorus

March 24, 2015

Portland, Maine

The concert "Music from The Gilded Age" today was 
fabulous! You promised it would be entertaining and 
so it was. The music was superb; The Longfellow 
Orchestra simply outstanding, as were the two 
marvelous sopranos, Kaitlyn Costello and Cree Carrico. 
The youngsters and their teachers from the "Woodside 
One Wheelers of Topsham" certainly enriched the 
show with their entertaining performance. We felt 
enriched by being there . . . . We can't wait to see 
what will be next on your agenda.
[Audience comment, "Music from The Gilded Age: 
Saturday, March 21, 2015.]

John Malveaux: In a ravishing display of the depth of her extraordinary talent...Latonia Moore outshines

Latonia Moore in Title Role of Aida in Sydney Harbour

John Malveaux of 

During the 150th Anniversary Emancipation Proclamation Concert of September 2, 2012 co-produced by MusicUNTOLD and KUSC Classical Radio 91.5FM in Los Angeles Soprano Latonia Moore sang "Ritorna vincitor"/Return a conqueror and she teamed with Baritone Donnie Ray Albert to sing "Ciel, mio padre!"/Return a conqueror from the opera AIDA. The concert was subsequently broadcast on KUSC Classical Radio 91.5 FM and podcast for 30 days. 
Please see 3-28-2015 review of AIDA in Australia

John Malveaux

Simon Parris: Man in Chair

Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour: Aida review

In a ravishing display of the depth of her extraordinary talent, American soprano Latonia Moore outshines camels, fireworks and dancing girls to walk away with the fourth annual Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour. Playing the title role of Aida means that, fortunately, the show is already hers for the taking.

'Permutations' on Sono Luminus is an Artistic Triumph of Violist Eliesha Nelson and Pianist James Howsmon, Premiering Works of 4 Americans and a Russian

Eliesha Nelson, Viola
James Howsmon, Piano
Sono Luminus DSL-92186

James Howsmon, piano

Permutations (63:41) has been recorded on Sono Luminus, catalog number DSL-92186,  by violist Eliesha Nelson and pianist James Howsmon, a Professor of Instrumental Accompanying at Oberlin Conservatory.

The liner notes explain a very unusual feature: “This package contains a Pure Audio Blu-rayTM as well as a standard CD.  The Pure Audio Blu-ray will play in any standard Blu-ray player and contains high resolution Surround Sound and Stereo versions of the program material.”

AfriClassical has followed the career of Cleveland Orchestra violist Eliesha Gabrielle Nelson for many years.  Her website is and her blog is  The Biography at her website begins: “I was born and raised in North Pole, Alaska, where I began the violin at the age of six with the Suzuki Method, and piano at age 8. My first violin teacher Peggy Swartz, was actually a cellist, but the Suzuki method was new in the interior of Alaska, and she was one of the few teachers for beginners.”

Often we have featured her performances of works of Cleveland composer H. Leslie Adams.  We have had the opportunity to review all of her CDs. Eliesha has made 3 recordings, each with a special contribution to viola literature.  She began with music of the American composer Quincy Porter (1897-1966) on the 2009 Dorian disc Quincy Porter: Complete Viola Works, which Sono Luminus reports is a best-seller. One whimsical similarity between that disc and the present one is that the front cover of each shows Eliesha and her instrument from the front, while the back cover pictures her in the same setting, but from behind.
In 2011 Eliesha Nelson joined with pianist Glen Inanga on a Sono Luminus CD, Russian Viola Sonatas. The three composers had careers in the Soviet period. They are Varvara Gaigerova (1903-1944), Alexander Winkler (1865-1935) and Paul Juon (1872-1940).  The work of Gaigerova and the two compositions of Winkler were World Premiere recordings.
The liner notes Eliesha Nelson has written for Permutations are entitled American Classical Music and the Viola.  The violist writes: “This album is comprised of five virtuosic viola pieces that look at aspects of American music. The five different composers on this recording have all created technically challenging works of strikingly disparate character.”  All of them have done so since 1953, so this program may be characterized as a survey of the viola literature of the past 62 years. The label notes the five compositions are premier recordings.  

John McLaughlin Williams, composer of two works on this disc, has commented to us: “I think the cd is particularly exciting because of the Kapustin; it's a major addition to the viola repertoire."

Eliesha Nelson writes: “All of the composers are American with one exception: Russian Nikolai Kapustin, included because he incorporates American jazz elements in his music.”  She continues: “Nikolai Kapustin was introduced to jazz as a teenager while studying at the Moscow Conservatory, and he masterfully combines it with his deep Russian musical heritage.”    
Nikolai Kapustin composed his Sonata for Viola and Piano, Op. 69, (16:54) in 1992, according to his website: Its movements are Allegro (7:53), Largo (4:56) and Vivace (4:04).  Kaupustin is a Russian but was born Nov. 22, 1937 in Gorlovka, Ukraine.  The liner notes add: “Nikolai Kapustin turned out to be a classical composer who happens to work in a jazz idiom.”  As of that writing, Kapustin had written 154 compositions.  
We have a long familiarity with John McLaughlin Williams, who contributed Two Pieces for Solo Viola (5:37).  They are Sarabande (2:02) and Toccata (3:34). Eliesha Nelson writes of him: “GRAMMY® winning conductor, composer, pianist and violinist John McLaughlin Williams has always had an affinity for American music and has conducted several recordings under the Naxos label for their ‘American Classics’ series.”  

The notes point out that he was born in Greensboro, North Carolina but was raised in Washington, D.C.  They continue: “Williams and I collaborated on my first album, Quincy Porter Complete Viola Works (DSL-90911), which received several Grammy nominations, and won for Best Engineering, Classical.  The style of his ‘Two Pieces for Viola’ is reminiscent of Fritz Kreisler’s violin showpieces.  He writes: ‘The challenge of writing a solo string work is great; one must surmount problems of tonal monotony by writing not just melody, but also real and implied counterpoint and harmony.  The deeply burnished tone of the viola was my inspiration for the work, and I also wanted to write a viola piece that was truly virtuosic...’ I  am honored that Williams chose to write this piece with me in mind.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ross Lee Finney is represented by his Second Sonata for Viola and Piano (18:51).  The work’s first movement is Andante teneramente; Allegro animato (6:30).  Next comes Permutations (2:54).  That is followed by Largo teneramente (3:17).  The fourth movement is Allegro con moto; Misterioso (6:10).  Eliesha Nelson writes: “Ross Lee Finney wrote his second viola sonata in 1953 (revised 1955) which makes it the earliest piece on this recording.  It implements the 12-tone technique (serialism), a compositional tool from the 20th century created by Arnold Schoenberg, who was a member of the Second Viennese School.”  The notes point out ways in which the composer retained some sense of tonality and deviated from the rule against repetition of a note. The violist continues: “The piece takes advantage of the complete viola range, from the lush, mellifluous melody in the first movement to the sprightly triplets in the second and fourth movements.  He ends the piece by restating the very first tone row in simple quarter notes and ending on an a Major chord.”
Jeffrey Mumford,, is represented on this disc by his composition Wending (7:58).  AfriClassical has previously written about this work.  On February 25, 2010 AfriClassical posted: Mumford: ‘Yes wending IS written for the violist Wendy Richman and much of the harmonic material IS based on her name’   Jeffrey Mumford sent notes on his composition in advance of the release of Permutations:                                          

“Here are the program notes with addendae:  Re: ‘wending’, as part of the scenario of the work’s ongoing development, slower moving material is often interrupted by sharply accented chords or single notes which in and of themselves, establish an independent layer of activity. In addition, more rapidly moving passages reveal themselves periodically and eventually transform into tremolos at which point aspects of the more ethereal material from the opening reassert themselves.

“The work is prevailingly rhapsodic and is in one movement.  The recorded performance here by Eliesha Nelson (with whom I have happily worked on many occasions)  is nothing short of stunning!”

George Walker is featured at the website as well as in frequent posts on AfriClassical Blog.  He is a prolific composer with a great many recordings, but the violist has found a work for viola which had not been recorded, his Sonata for Viola and Piano (14:21).  The liner notes tell us: “Walker has written an autobiography describing his intense musical training, the barriers he faced as an African-American performing concert pianist, and how he managed to rise above it all to have a prolific and successful musical career. Walker writes about this sonata: "The 'Sonata for Viola and Piano', composed in 1989, is an atonal work in two movements. Unlike other compositions in this form, the second movement utilizes material similar to that in the first movement. A brief introduction by the piano in the first movement leads into a highly chromatic principal theme in the viola. This reappears several times on different pitch levels with intervallic changes and in rhythmic diminution.

"The somewhat playful principal theme of the second movement in the piano is reiterated in the viola. A brief transition leads to a lyrical second theme. It is restated later in the movement after several recurrences of the principal theme. Vigorous tripl stops in the viola combined with octaves in the piano and a dramatic cadence are followed by a tranquil coda that quotes the first phrase of the fifteenth century popular song, 'L'Homme Arme'. The 'Sonata for Viola and Piano' is dedicated to the composer's father, Dr. George T. Walker."(Copyright George Walker - October 2014).

We believe Eliesha Nelson's third recording is another artistic triumph. She has assembled, and she and pianist James Howsmon have performed, five highly distinctive works which have been combined into a stimulating and enjoyable listening experience which we have repeated many times.

A review copy of this recording was provided by the record label.

Comment by email:
Hello Bill, Thank you for reviewing my new album! I'm glad you like it. I'm sorry I didn't send you the recording myself, but I have yet to receive a copy from the label. However, I've been out of town, so maybe it has arrived! The music was a nice challenge and fun to work on. James Howsmon was a dream to work with! I hope you are well!  Best, Eliesha  [Eliesha Nelson]

Friday, March 27, 2015

Sphinx is seeking to secure support to ensure our summer Sphinx Performance Academy (SPA) is able to thrive and remain free of cost for many student musicians!

From this first day of Spring to its last day on June 20, Sphinx is seeking to  secure support to ensure our summer Sphinx Performance Academy (SPA) is able to thrive and remain free of cost for many student musicians!

SPA is a 2-week full-scholarship intensive chamber music and solo performance summer program designed for aspiring Black and Latino string players, ages 12-17.

Donations can be made online by going to the following link & choosing "Sphinx Performance Academy" as the program designation:  

Richard Alston: "Performing Arts Showcase at Essex County College in Newark,NJ." The 6th installment features 5 very talented young men

Assoc. Prof. Richard Alston writes:

Hello Bill,

I am very excited to share with you the 6th installment of my cable television show "Performing Arts Showcase at Essex County College in Newark,NJ." The 6th installment features 5 very talented young men, Elijah Souels, pianist, Ariel Flores, tenor, Shane Daly, pianist, James Morris, pianist, and Ugo Emmanuel, drummer,
Click the links to view each segment.

#6 "Performing Arts Showcase at Essex County College"

Associate Prof. Richard Alston, host and producer.

Part 1 Elijah Souels, pianist, performs Sonata in D Major, 1st mvt , by Haydn 

Part 2 Ariel Fores, tenor, performs "Corner of the Sky" and Shane Daly, pianist, performs "Le Coucou" by Daquin.

Part 3 James Morris, pianist, performs "Military Polonaise" by Chopin and Ugo Emmanuel, drummer,  performs "Ten Minutes" by Tony Royster Jr. 

I hope you enjoy the show!!!!!!!


Dominique-René de Lerma: PBS Insider - You Can Help Shape Future PBS Programs

Very important!!

Dominique-René de Lerma

Comment by email:
I actually went to this public conference meeting Monday with PBS execs in which their programming was the focus. PBS has been getting a lot of flack lately in regards to programming changes that they;re making and I was told that some earlier public meetings in N.Y. and L.A. went disastrously. The one here went pretty well though but I understand that they changed the format of the meetings to make them more inclusive.  Sergio  [Sergio A. Mims]

John Malveaux: Opera Australia: Soprano Latonia Moore sings AIDA in Australia starting March 27, 2015

Latonia Moore
(Opera Australia)

John Malveaux of 

Soprano Latonia Moore sings AIDA in Australia starting March 27, 2015.

John Malveaux

Opera Australia

Latonia Moore


American soprano Latonia Moore made an unexpected and triumphant debut at The Metropolitan Opera in March 2012 replacing Violeta Urmana as Aida. Her performance was broadcast on live radio and was received rapturously by the press and public alike. The New York Times reported that ‘she received an ecstatic ovation…her voice was radiant, plush and sizable at its best, with gleaming top notes that broke through the chorus and orchestra during the crowd scenes…Moore has enormous potential.’
Particularly associated with this role, she has gone on to sing Aida with great success at Covent Garden; the Opernhaus Zurich; Opera Australia; the New National Theatre in Tokyo; the Dallas, San Diego, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Detroit Operas and at the Ravinia Festival with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under James Conlon.
In the 2014/15 season she returns to the Openhaus Zurich and to Opera Australia for further performances of Aida, and she returns to the Dallas Opera to sing the title role in La Wally.  The future also includes returns to the San Diego and Metropolitan Operas.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

John Malveaux: Wall Street Journal: Met Competition Features Nation’s Top Opera Talent [Reginald Smith, Jr. wins $15,000 as Finalist in National Council Auditions]

The winners of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, left to right, Reginald Smith Jr, Marina Costa-Jackson, Nicholas Brownlee, Virginie Verrez and Joseph Dennis on Sunday. Photo: Andrew Hinderaker for The Wall Street Journal         

Reginald Smith, Jr.
(Lynne Lane Photography)

John Malveaux of 

At 26 years of age Reginald Smith Jr. is among the Mets 2015 top opera singers. His performance included  “Oh, Lawd Jesus, heah my prayer” from Louis Gruenberg’s “The Emperor Jones,” which premiered at the Met in 1933 and hasn’t been performed there since 1934.
Bass-Baritone Mark Steven Doss performed same song during MusicUNTOLD 50th Anniversary MLK Jr. 'Symphony of Brotherhood' Concert August 18, 2013 sponsored by KUSC Classical Radio, Colburn Foundation, and Employees Community Fund of the Boeing Company. See
See/hear youtube Ride on King Jesus with Hal Johnson arrangement
John Malveaux

The Wall Street Journal

Some of opera’s rising stars performed in a career-making concert on Sunday: the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions, a competition that helped launch international stars such as Renée Fleming, Susan Graham and Thomas Hampson.

Out of nine finalists, five won individual cash prizes of $15,000. The competition is structured to award as many as five winners, though in some years fewer awards are given.

The 2015 winners are: Joseph Dennis, tenor, 30 years old; Virginie Verrez, mezzo-soprano, 26; Nicholas Brownlee, bass-baritone, 25; Marina Costa-Jackson, soprano, 27; and Reginald Smith Jr., baritone, 26.

Nathalie Joachim: Working for eighth blackbird AND Flutronix is my dream career without a doubt - I feel like the luckiest flutist around!

Nathalie Joachim 
(Credit: Arthur Moeller)

On March 20, 2015 AfriClassical posted:

Nathalie Joachim comments:

Thanks, William!! I'm beyond excited to have won the position and will definitely keep you informed.   Working for eighth blackbird AND Flutronix is my dream career without a doubt - I feel like the luckiest flutist around! :)  Thanks again for the kind words and for being supportive as always. 


John Malveaux: "The first African American woman to conduct major United States orchestras is dead and little known even during Women's History Month"

Margaret Rosezarian Harris

John Malveaux of 

The first African American woman to conduct major United States orchestras is dead and little known even during Women's History Month by African American women with degrees in music.  Who is to blame?  See
John Malveaux

The New York Times

Margaret Rosezarian Harris, Musician and Educator, 56