Thursday, August 30, 2007

Justin Elie, Haitian Composer, Born Sept. 1, 1883

According to a column by W.E.B. Du Bois in the January, 1916 issue of Crisis, the magazine of the N. A. A. C. P., the Haitian composer Justin Elie was born at Port-au-Prince on September 1, 1883. The column, as reproduced in Africana Encyclopedia, went on to say:

"At the age of five years he showed a passion for music. His parents took him to France and put him in the celebrated institution of Sainte Croix. He was prepared for the Conservatory of Paris by the great pianist, Marmontel, and passed a brilliant entrance examination in 1903.

He graduated in 1905 and has since been in concert work in Paris and in the West Indies. He has written several compositions, notable among them is Aphrodite. Monsieur Elie is expected in the United States soon."

Three short pieces by Justin Elie were recorded by Jean E. Saint-Eloi on a MIDI-guitar on IFA Music Records 256 (1999): Chant De La Montagne #1, Isma-o! (1:55); Chant De La Montagne #2, Nostalgie (2:17); and Legende Creole (4:10). The CD may be ordered, and an audio sample of Chant De La Montagne #1, Isma-o! may be heard, at:

The liner notes are by the guitarist, Jean E. Saint-Eloi, and begin with an overview of Haitian classical music. Other Haitian composers represented on the CD are Occide Jeanty (1860-1936), Solon Verret and Ludovic Lamothe (1882-1953). Each is profiled at Saint-Eloi estimates that Haiti has produced about 60 classical composers.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Gabriel Banat, Saint-Georges Biographer, on Calliope CD

Gabriel Banat, former First Violin of the New York Philharmonic, is the author of “The Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Virtuoso of the Sword and the Bow”, published by Pendragon Press in New York in 2006. He has reviewed the cover and liner notes of the CD “Monsieur de Saint-George: 4 Concertos pour violon”, Les Archets de Paris, Calliope 9373 (2007), at the website of

Crude cover upsetting admirers of first classical black composer, 29 Aug 2007

I am sorry to note that any discussion of the musical qualities of the Calliope CD containing previously recorded concertos of the Chevalier (sic) of Saint-Georges, is immaterial, given the negative reaction to the crude cartoonlike depiction of the first black classical composer, by his many admirers. As the author of the recent English biography of the composer, "The Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Virtuoso of the Sword and the Bow" (New York, Pendragon Press, June, 2006), I am getting e-mails from musicians and musicologists, both black and white, communicating their shock at the insulting cover of the album. While I share their feelings, having spent years in the Paris and overseas archives searching out documents of Saint-Georges' life, I need to point out that the author of the Calliope CD's liner notes, either ignorant of recent findings on the subject or else misled by Alain Guédé's sadly misinformed book, repeats the errors dating back to 19th century fiction. He gives him the wrong birth year, mispells his family name, (saddling him with the wrong father) and pointedly calls him "Monsieur," thus unjustly divesting this black Gendarme of the King of France of his legitimate, amply documented right to his title of Chevalier. I reiterate that my critique concerns only the cover of the CD, not it's musical content.
Gabriel Banat

Monday, August 27, 2007

Gail Davis Barnes: African American Pianist

Gail Davis Barnes is an African American pianist and piano teacher in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is an ardent advocate of the works of composers of African descent. This has led her to make numerous lecture-recitals at schools and colleges on the piano music of Black composers. Her interest is also reflected in her CD Magnolias (53:28), containing works by the Afro-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) and the African American composer R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943). The pianist released the CD independently in 2001; it is available from Nicola's Books in the Westgate Shopping Center in Ann Arbor.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor is represented by pieces from
Scenes From An Imaginary Ballet, Op. 74; Moorish Dance, Op. 55; The Angels Changed My Name, Op. 59, No. 9; Deep River, Op. 59, No. 10; Run Mary, Run, Op. 59, No. 21; and The Bamboula (African Dance), Op. 59, No. 8. R. Nathaniel Dett's share of the disc is Magnolia Suite, comprised of Magnolia, Deserted Cabin, My Lady Love, Mammy, and The Place Where The Rainbow Ends. Brief audio samples of the linked titles can be heard at

Excerpts from the pianist's resume explain her educational background and professional activities:

"Gail Davis Barnes is an independent private piano teacher and performer in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she maintains a studio. She attended Ohio State University (OSU) where she received a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance and a double minor in music history and organ. During her years at OSU, she played in many recitals both as a soloist and accompanist; she also was a featured soloist with the OSU Symphony Orchestra. Upon graduation, she attended the University of Michigan where she received a Master of Music degree in piano performance with a minor concentration in music history."

"Ms. Davis Barnes has participated in piano master classes with Malcolm Frager, Theodore Lettvin, Dorothy Taubman, and Ralph Votapek. She has also conducted master classes in Ohio and Michigan.

She has served as Minister of Music at Glacier Way United Methodist Church, Church of the Good Shepherd, and as a substitute organist/pianist at Calvary United Methodist Church.

The last 24 of her 34 years of piano teaching have been dominated by the Suzuki Method. Her primary Suzuki training has been at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point with Mrs. Haruko Kataoka. In addition, she has spent many hours observing other Suzuki piano and violin teachers instruct their students.

One of the high points of Ms. Davis Barnes’ teaching career was when she had the opportunity to teach general music to grades 2-8, and music appreciation to grades 10-12 to an international group of children in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia for two years, where she also did some private teaching and performing.

Ms. Davis Barnes’ lecture recitals concerning the classical music of Black Composers have been enthusiastically received at different universities around the country. Special presentations of these recitals have been warmly received by elementary and secondary students in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Pensacola, Florida, and Paradise Valley, Arizona."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Nokuthula Ngwenyama, Violist of Zimbabwean-Japanese Heritage

Nokuthula Ngwenyama is an acclaimed American violist and violinist of Zimbabwean-Japanese heritage. She is also a Visiting Assistant Professor of Music whose recorded repertoire will soon be enlarged by two forthcoming releases she has completed on the EDI Records label. Her new website is

"Thula", as she is known to her friends, was born in Southern California on June 16, 1976. Her parents divorced when she was quite young, and she was raised in the home of a family friend. Thula's earliest musical instruments were the piano and the violin. She faced resistance at first, as she explains at her original website,

"My father, a Ndebele man from Zimbabwe, discouraged me from the start. 'Why are you playing this white man's music?' he would ask. He didn't understand that this kind of music spoke to me in a way not affected by race."

At 12, Thula switched from violin to viola because she was captivated by the sound of the instrument. The website of the American Viola Society reports:

"Nokuthula Ngwenyama is recognized as one of the foremost instrumentalists of her generation. Her acclaimed appearances as soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician garner great attention, as she plays 'music beautifully, with dazzling technique in the virtuoso fast movements and deep expressiveness in the slow movements (The Washington Post).'

Ms. Ngwenyama came to international attention when she won the Primrose Competition and Young Artists International Auditions - both at age 17. Her debut recitals in Washington, D.C. at the Kennedy Center and in New York at the 92nd Street 'Y' were widely praised, and in 1997 she received an Avery Fisher Career Grant."

The website goes on to say that Ngwenyama graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music in 1996, and that a Fulbright Scholarship enabled her to study at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris.

Ngwenyama's interests in life extend beyond music. She completed a Master's Degree of Theological Studies at Harvard University in 2002, after studying the religions of Africa and Asia. Her original website features an illustrated journal of her first trip to Africa. She met her father's relatives in Zimbabwe and participated in concerts in that country and in South Africa.

EDI Records has released two CDs on which Ngwenyama plays viola or violin and Michael Long plays guitar: CHE!: A Musical Biography, EDI Records 6254 (2004), composed by Miguel Corella of Spain; and J.S. Bach Partitas. EDI Records 6738.

Nokuthula Ngwenyama plays violin, accompanied on piano by Mihae Lee, on the CD Ballade, EDI Records 9259 (2005). The program includes Sonata No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 45 (24:21) by Edvard Grieg; Claude Debussy's Clair de Lune (from Suite Bergamasque) (5:18); as well as Ballade in C Minor, Op. 73 (13:36) by the Afro-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912).

Rubinstein Sonatas
is a forthcoming EDI recording on which Nokuthula Ngwenyama joins forces with pianist Jennifer Lim. The works are Anton Rubinstein's Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 13, and Sonata for Viola and Piano, Op. 49. A release scheduled for September 2007 is Il Principe: Courtly Airs and Dances, with Nokuthula Ngwenyama, viola; Michael Long, guitar; and David Brewer, violin.

Ngwenyama has joned the faculty of the Music Department of the University of Notre Dame as a Visiting Assistant Professor. The school's website says:

"Highlights of Ms. Ngwenyama's past two seasons include repeat performances with Christopher Seaman and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and the KwaZulu Natal Philharmonic Orchestra in Durban, South Africa, as well as appearances with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Additionally, she 'fascinated on the viola and the violin during a recital' (The Washington Post) at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. and with the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society."

Collaborations with chamber music ensembles are also noted at the Notre Dame website:

"Ms. Ngwenyama also enjoys an esteemed reputation as a chamber musician. She frequently collaborates with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and has also worked closely with the Borromeo, Chilingirian, Miami, Orion and St. Lawrence Quartets."

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Celso Machado: Afro-Brazilian Classical Guitarist & Composer

Celso Machado is an Afro-Brazilian composer, guitarist, lyricist and singer. He has a new CD, Jogo da Vida. The works Machado writes and performs are played by guitarists in both classical and world music genres. He was born in Ribeiro Preto, Brazil on January 27, 1953. At age seven he began performing in street bands. Machado first performed in Canada in 1986; he moved there in 1989. His many CDs consist of music composed by himself and others. His recordings, compositions and awards are listed at his Web site:

Machado has composed sound tracks for several documentary films. His score for the film In the Company of Fear won a Leo Award in 2000 in Canada. Publication of Machado's sheet music has resulted in many performances by other guitarists. The French firm Éditions Henry Lemoine has published a volume of his music, Musiques populaires brésilliennes pour flûte et guitare.

Machado has adopted rhythms and musical instruments from many cultures. He teaches master classes for guitar. Three of his CDs have been nominated for Canadian Juno Awards: Varal, Surucua Art Productions 002 (1997); Jongo Lê, Daqui (1999); and Capivara, Surucua Art Productions (2005).

Classical guitarist Adam Khan includes five works of Celso Machado in his current performance repertoire. The long list of classical guitarists who have recorded Machado's works includes the Canadian Guitar Trio, Gerald Garcia, Zsofia Boros, Walter Stoiber, Winfried Stegmann, David Nutall, Timothy Kain, Neil Anderson, William Buonocore and Pasquale Bianculli.

The online music shop of CBC Records,, says Machado's newest CD, Jogo da Vida, CBC 3021, represents a substantial departure from his previous recording projects. The CD was released in Canada on July 3, 2007; its U.S. release date is August 28, 2007, according to Naxos, its U.S. Distributor.

Performers on Jogo da Vida are
Celso Machado, acoustic guitar, vocal and percussion; Carlinhos Machado, electric guitar; Cyro Baptista, percussion; David Virelles, piano; Rich Brown, electric bass; Guiomar Campbell, vocals and percussion; and Eliana Cuevas, vocals.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Chamber Music

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Chamber Music is a world premiere recording of three works of the composer by The Coleridge Ensemble on AFKA SK-543 (1998). They are Fantasiestücke (Fantasy Pieces) for String Quartet, Op. 5 (20:55); Five Negro Melodies for Piano Trio, Op. 59, No. 1 (18:10); and Nonet in f minor, Op. 2 (26:40). The members of the ensemble are John McLaughlin Williams, violin; Hilary Walther, violin (Quartet); Lisa Sustowicz, viola; William E. Thomas, cello; Pascale Delache-Feldman, bass; Jane Harrison, oboe; Eric Thomas, clarinet; Ronald Haroutunian, bassoon; Robin Cavalear, horn; Fredricka King, piano (Trio); and Christopher Walter, piano (Nonet).

Rob Barnett has reviewed the CD for MusicWeb International. William E. Thomas has written a liner note on the chamber music of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor:

It is clear that the period of time Coleridge-Taylor spent as a student at the Royal College (1890-1897) from age 15 to 22 was the period when he turned his attention to chamber music. There are many reasons one might think to explain this: personal interest and knowledge; requirements of his teacher, Sir Charles Stanford; the greater possibility of performance; i.e., the economy of smaller instrumental forces; and the models presented by other great composers like Brahms and Dvorak.

Whatever the reasons Coleridge-Taylor chose the idioms of the trio, quartet, quintet and nonet, we who love chamber music are the beneficiaries. In choosing these structures Coleridge-Taylor found and developed for himself a form that was receptive for a type of profound musical expression that suited both himself and the structures.

Performances of most of his early works took place at the Royal College. Sir George Grove, who was then director of the College, was present at the premiere of the Nonet on July 5, 1895. In his book Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Musician, His Life and Letters, W.C.B. Sayers records the following incident:

At the conclusion of the piece, the applause was very great, and there were demands for the composer. He, however, was not forthcoming, and, the applause continuing, Sir George himself went n search of Coleridge-Taylor. Although he (Coleridge-Taylor) had found the courage to face an audience in his own town, at college so great had been his dread... he had fled upstairs and hidden himself in the organ room, whence Grove dragged him forth.

John McLaughlin Williams writes of the Fantasiestücke for String Quartet, Op. 5:

Coleridge-Taylor's Fantasiestücke (Fantasy Pieces) were composed in 1895, while he was still a student at the Royal College. This work was dedicated by Coleridge-Taylor to his composition teacher, Charles Villiers Stanford, Esq. The work is breathtakingly assured technically, the composer employing some cyclic elements and generally showing great understanding of the textural problems of quartet writing. Each movement creates a character unto its own, all the while retaining a palpable freshness that remains to this day. The Fantasiestücke were published posthumously in 1921.

William E. Thomas comments on Five Negro Melodies for Piano Trio, Op. 59, No. 1:

This work is an arrangement for piano trio of five of the compositions for solo piano taken from his Twenty-four Negro Melodies.

The songs are: "Sometimes I feel like a motherless child" (Audio sample of complete track) (4:55); "I was way down a-yonder" (4:20); "Didn't my Lord deliver Daniel" (1:25); "They will not lend me a child" (5:20); and "My Lord delivered Daniel" (2:00).

Thomas says of the Nonet in f minor, Op.2:

This recording of chamber music by the Africa-English composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor is the first recording made of the works presented here. The task of presenting "new" works to the repertoire is both challenging and rewarding. In the case of the Nonet the ensemble was working from copies of the original manuscript. The process of collecting and editing has been interesting and deeply satisfying. The thought of bringing to life a major piece of chamber music that has been neglected for over 100 years is enormously exciting and bears a considerable responsibility.

The Nonet, written for oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin, viola, cello, string bass, and piano, was first performed on July 5, 1895.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Violin Concerto in G Minor, Op. 80

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's Violin Concerto in G Minor, Op. 80 (31:25) was recorded for the first time by Philippe Graffin, violin, and the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Michael Hankinson, on Avie AV0044 (2004).
Jessica Duchen outlines the origin of the work in her liner notes for the CD, quoted here in part:

Visiting the USA in 1906, Coleridge-Taylor met the musical philanthropists Carl and Ellen Stoeckel who from that year onwards held an annual Norfolk Music Festival in their 'Music Shed' (seating more than 1600 people) in the foothills of the Berkshire mountains. They invited him to conduct Hiawatha at the festival in 1910, where he was much fêted by an enthusiastic audience. The occasion gave him the chance to become reacquainted with the great violinist Maud Powell, who had already performed several of his short works for violin and piano.

In discussion with Powell and the Stoeckels, Coleridge-Taylor developed the idea of writing a violin concerto based on negro spiritual themes. After he had completed the work, however, neither he nor Powell was content with it. The composer asked the violinist to send it back, saying that he was instead 'writing a new work at white heat'; Carl Stoeckel also received word from Coleridge-Taylor 'requesting me to throw (the concerto) into the fire; and saying that he had written an entirely new and original work, all the melodies being his own, and that it was a hundred times better than the first composition'.

On receiving the replacement concerto, Powell declared that it was 'like a bouquet of flowers' and dubbed the composer 'a coloured Dvorak'. She agreed to give the premiere on 4 June 1912 - though the event was almost scuppered when the orchestral parts were shipped to the USA on the Titanic. Fortunately, Coleridge-Taylor was able to produce a new set in time.

Less happily, he was unable to attend the premiere himself. Overworked and exhausted - his celebrity did not extend to financial security - he died of pneumonia that September, aged only 38.

Rob Barnett has written a favorable review of the CD for MusicWeb International in which he observes:

It is a highly attractive work with a powerfully memorable store of whistleable tunes both sweetly sung and lively.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Symphony in A Minor

This is the cover of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's Symphony in A Minor (36:44), recorded in Denmark by the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Douglas Bostock, Classico 684 (2006). The tribute for the composer's birthday, August 15, discussed the symphony briefly and linked to the review of the disc by Jonathon Woolf at The CD is Vol. 15 in The British Symphonic Collection.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Visual Artists and Artistry

(A reblog of Portrait of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, from Visual Artists and Artistry, Aug. 16, 2007)

Source: National Portrait Gallery (

Marjorie Evans, Coleridge-Taylor's half sister, had seen an oil painting of the composer as a child (1881) that is identical to the one that was on view at the National Portrait Gallery in London. (Quoted from Jeffrey Green and Paul McGilchrist, "Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: A Post Script." in THE BLACK PERSPECTIVE IN MUSIC (1986)).


Black artist, Malvin Gray Johnson, a North Carolina native, rose to prominence during the Harlem Renaissance. His exhibition of oils, watercolors and drawings in 2002 at North Carolina Central University, was the first since his death in 1934.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Afro-British Composer, Born Aug. 15, 1875

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912): Afro-British Composer & Conductor

24 Negro Melodies, Op. 59 is David Shaffer-Gottschalk's recent 2-disc recording of this work for solo piano, on Troy 930/31 (2007). The composer's program notes read, in part:

What Brahms has done for the Hungarian folk music, Dvorak for the Bohemian, and Grieg for the Norwegian, I have tried to do for these Negro Melodies. The plan adopted has been almost without exception that of the Tema con Variazioni.”

The CD has been reviewed at Black Grooves, an online publication of the Archives of African American Music and Culture at Indiana University. The Coleridge Ensemble has recorded Five Negro Melodies for Piano Trio, Op. 59, No. 1 on Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Chamber Music, AFKA SK-543 (1998). Sometimes I feel like a motherless child (4:55) can be heard in its entirety on the Audio page at

His biographer, Geoffrey Self has, has called him The Hiawatha Man, but in addition to his interest in Native American legend, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was also an important Pan-Africanist. Very early on, he began collaborating with the African American poet and author Paul Lawrence Dunbar (1872-1906). Writing in Africana Encyclopedia, Roanne Edwards says:

He was also a leading exponent of Pan-Africanism, which emphasized the importance of a shared African heritage as the touchstone of black cultural identity.”

An entry on Pan-Africanism in Encyclopedia Africana includes a photo, with this caption:

The first Pan-African Conference convened in London in July 1900. W.E.B. Du Bois, who stands in the center of this photograph of the conference delegates, gave the keynote address titled 'To the Nations of the World'.”

Jeffrey Green has published an article in Black Music Research Journal, Vol. 10, No. 2, entitled "The Foremost Musician of His Race: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor of England, 1875-1912". He reports:

Coleridge-Taylor's black associates were fine people, as we can see from his contacts in London in July 1900 when Du Bois and the Loudins participated in a Pan-African conference at which Coleridge-Taylor was present (Mathurin 1976, 67, 168).” Frederick J. Loudin was a bass singer from Ohio who led the famous Fisk Singers, Green notes.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was born on August 15, 1875 in Croydon, a suburb of London, England. His mother was an English woman named Alice Hare. His father was Daniel Peter Taylor, a native of Sierra Leone who trained as a physician at King's College, London. After graduating he found his race was a barrier to maintaining a medical practice in the United Kingdom. As a result he returned to Africa permanently around the time of Samuel's birth. He is not known to have had any contact with his son.

Young Samuel was raised by his English mother and stepfather, but his musical education was overseen by Col. Herbert A. Walters, who belonged to the church choir in which the boy sang. Samuel also studied violin with a local musician as a child. He enrolled at the Royal college of Music in 1890 as a student of Violin.

Two years later he switched to composition and was taught by Charles Villiers Stanford. Coleridge-Taylor wrote his Symphony in A Minor in 1896, we are told by Lewis Foreman in the liner notes of the world premiere recording, Classico 684 (2006). Critic Jonathon Woolf of Music Web International writes of the work: “His characteristic gift for melodic beauty is always present.”

Coleridge-Taylor rose to prominence in 1898, the year he turned 23, on the strength of two works. The first was his Ballade in A Minor. It was commissioned for the prestigious annual Three Choirs Festival at the suggestion of the British composer Edward Elgar (1857-1934). The piece was a critical and popular success.

The composer's second major composition of 1898 was his musical Hiawatha's Wedding Feast, for which he is best known. The work is a setting of verses from Song of Hiawatha by the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He conducted its premier to great acclaim. It was staged hundreds of times in the United Kingdom alone during the next 15 years.

Samuel married Jessie Walmisley, a pianist and classmate, on Dec. 30, 1899. The publicity surrounding Hiawatha's Wedding Feast created a huge demand for tours both within the United Kingdom and abroad. Among the most important for the composer's career were three tours of North America in 1904, 1906 and 1910.

The first concert of the 1904 tour was in Washington, D.C. The Coleridge-Taylor Society, an African American choir, appeared with the United States Marine Band, with the composer at the podium. During his stay in the capital Coleridge-Taylor visited President Theodore Roosevelt at the White House.

Jeffrey Green describes the 1906 tour in his article:

In the 1906 tour the Briton presented the Atonement, the Quadroon Girl, and Hiawatha; he also toured with Burleigh. He appeared in Toronto, St. Louis, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Milwaukee, as well as the cities of Boston, Washington and Chicago, which had also been on his first tour schedule.”

The 1910 tour took Coleridge-Taylor to Boston, Detroit, and Norfolk, Connecticut, where he was guest conductor for the Litchfield County Choral Union Festival, Green tells us.

American Virtuosa: Tribute to Maud Powell, Cedille CDR 90000 097 (2007), is a new CD featuring Rachel Barton Pine, violin, and Matthew Hagle, piano. Among the works is Coleridge-Taylor's Deep River, Op. 59, No. 10 (4:46). Rachel Barton and the Encore Chamber Orchestra, led by Daniel Hege, conductor, made the world premiere recording of the composer's Romance in G Major for Violin and Orchestra (12:33) on the CD Violin Concertos by Black Composers of the 18th and 19th Centuries, Cedille CDR 90000 035 (1997).

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Comment on "Dance Like The Wind: Music of Today's Black Composers"

The CD pictured above is Africa: Piano Music of William Grant Still, Koch 3-7084-2H1 (1991).

Herdingcats makes this comment on "Dance Like The Wind: Music of today's Black composers" by Dominique-René de Lerma:

It's a shame you can't embed some sample clips so we can hear this music. Maybe if it's available on Amazon or another big site you could link to their clips.

How does their music sound differently from their white counterparts? Why a blog on this topic when you are not African-American? This is intriguing.

I appreciate the fact that the author of the comment took the time to raise these questions, and I am happy to respond. This blog is a companion to, so priority is given to music samples by composers featured there. The person making the comment is correct about audio samples being available at websites such as, which offers 18 samples of the CD.

The music of Black composers may or may not reflect African heritage, depending on their compositional philosophies. William Grant Still was chosen to compose the theme music for the 1939-40 New York World's Fair after the Theme Committee listened to recorded music on file at CBS Radio without knowing who wrote it, and chose two pieces as having the best sound. Both were by William Grant Still, and he composed the theme music. While some of his works contain references to African American spirituals, for example, much of Still's output is as all-American as that of his White contemporaries.

The reason for having a blog on this topic, as noted above, is that it is a companion to the website, The reviewer of the CD wrote his dissertation on Mozart, yet he is not Austrian and did not live in the 18th century! Professors, record label executives, biographers and webmasters who deal with the music of Black composers and musicians come from a wide array of backgrounds.

I listened to classical music for 30 years before learning of a single composer of African descent. By the time I discovered that I had been missing out on very beautiful classical music by Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, William Grant Still, Duke Ellington and hundreds of other Black composers, I had an academic and professional background in Civil Rights. I immediately resolved to do what I could to remedy the neglect of classical composers on the basis of race. My own heritage was not a factor in the decision.

This music belongs to all of us!

"H. Leslie Adams Listening Party" Returns Sept. 9, 2007

Music of the African American composer H. Leslie Adams for voice, piano, string quartet and cello will be heard on Sept. 9, 2007 in "H. Leslie Adams: A Listening Party, Return Engagement". Featured performers will be the Cavani String Quartet; Maria Corley, piano; Darryl Taylor, countertenor; William Clarence Marshall, bass; and Kent Collier, cello. The location is the Greg Reese Performing Arts Center, East Cleveland Library, 14101 Euclid Avenue, East Cleveland, Ohio. Phone: 216-541-4128. Admission is $10.

Pictured above are Greg L. Reese, Executive Director, East Cleveland Public Library (far left); Maria Corley, pianist (3rd from left); Kent Collier, cellist (4th from right); Darryl Taylor, countertenor (2nd from right); Jonathan Stuckey, bass (far right); H. Leslie Adams, composer (center); Cavani String Quartet (in purple jackets).

H. Leslie Adams lives in Cleveland, where he was born in 1932. He is a composer, pianist and professor whose career as a professor of music and a choral director has been quite varied. His page at includes links to six sound samples. Five are from Love Rejoices: Songs of H. Leslie Adams, recorded by Darryl Taylor, tenor, and Robin Guy, piano, on Albany Records Troy 428 (2000). The sixth audio excerpt is from Twelve Etudes, performed by pianist Maria Corley on Albany Records Troy 639 (2004).

Thursday, August 9, 2007

"Dance Like the Wind: Music of Today's Black Composers" by Dominique-René de Lerma

This is the conclusion of a four-part review by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma, an oboist and musicologist who is Professor of Music at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin and has specialized in Black classical music for four decades. The review of the series of four CDs appears in the August 2007 eNewsletter of the Myrtle Hart Society and is used by permission of its Founder/Director, Rashida Black, who is also a harpist.

Witness, the soul of American music
By Dominique-René de Lerma; Part 4 of 4

Dance like the wind; Music of today's Black composers
VocalEssence Ensemble; Philip Brunelle, conductor; liner notes by Dominique-René de Lerma; texts; series note; performer bios.

Baker, David. Images, shadows, and dreams. VocalEssence Chorus; Michele Frisch, flute; Chris Kachian, guitar; Charles Kemper, piano; Greg Hippen, double bass; Robert Stacke, drums. (17:14).
Banfield, William. Dance like the wind. Michele Frisch, flute; Kathy Robison, oboe; Joseph Longo, clarinet; Paul Straka, horn; Kevin Coria, bassoon. (9: 45).
Childs, Billy. Piece for string orchestra. 2. Slow. 3. Fast. ( 13:03).
Hailstork, Adolphus. Nocturne. Maria Jette, soprano. (6:59).
Moore, Undine Smith. Mother to son. Yolanda Williams, soprano. (2:41).
Moore, Undine Smith. We shall walk through the valley. (2:54).
Perkinson, Coleridge-Taylor. Lamentations; Black folk song suite. 2. Song form. 4. Perpetual motion. Anthony Elliott, cello. (7:13).
Simpson-Currenton, Evelyn. My soul hath found refuge in thee. Dan Dressen, tenor. (4:54).

If we wonder who is Michael Abels for want of a richer discography, that question may also be raised in the case of David Baker, although his very extensive recorded oeuvre is no excuse. Is there any composer who is so comfortably all over the place? A violin concerto for Josef Gingold with jazz band, a cello sonata for Janos Starker, 12-tone jazz, song cycles, cantatas, liturgical jazz, jivey pieces for string ensemble… is the whole world of music his?

Clearly a most important figure of his generation, Banfield takes films seriously, and his offering here is in direct response to Cat on a hot tin roof, for woodwind quintet.

The senior figure here is Undine Smith Moore, whose career as a major music educator was dedicated to Virginia State University. In the final decades of her life, her choral works began to receive substantial attention.

No longer with us is another giant in Perkinson, composer for films, orchestra and chamber groups, and a conductor of real substance. His contribution here provides an opportunity to hear the work of Anthony Elliott, whose tenure at the University of Michigan followed years of substantial experience as principal cellist with major orchestras in the US and Canada.

The Simpson dynasty flourished from Temple Evangelical Church in Philadelphia – first in the person of Joy Simpson, whose death while protesting apartheid in South Africa deprived us of a voice, equally comfortable with opera as with gospel music. Her career lasted long enough to be joined with Marietta, a mezzo-soprano whose career evolved in international importance. The third member of the family is a most remarkable musician whose imaginative settings of spirituals are unquestionably first-rate.

This set of four CDs belongs readily in any university or public library. It illustrates, not only a chunk of African American legacy, but demonstrates the enviable musical forces available within Minnesota's Twin Cities. The conductor, who as musicologist is acutely aware of the monuments of the history he is tracing here, and he has at his command an exemplary assemblage of splendid choristers and instrumentalists. With these recordings, all of this can be shared with a large and appreciative audience.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Fencing Match of Saint-Georges & D'Éon Reenacted

An E-mail from Catherine Pizon, Director of the Saint-Georges Commemoration by junior high school students on May 10 & 11, 2007 was posted here on Aug. 2, 2007. Madame Pizon has written again, and has illustrated her point with photos of the event, including this one in which students reenact the fencing match which took place at Carlton House, London, on April 9, 1787 between La Chevalière d'Éon (Brigitte Tillier) on the left and Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (Joseph Blanc) on the right.

The Prince of Wales arranged a friendly fencing demonstration in London between Saint-Georges, who was 42, and a 59-year-old French woman, La chevalière d'Éon. Saint-Georges had broken an Achilles tendon at age 40, and was not as nimble as before. He could still parry and counterattack effectively.

It is known that one touché was scored against Saint-Georges, but the final result is not clear. We do know the chevalière was actually Charles d'Éon de Beaumont, a male diplomat who dressed as a woman for many years to help him spy on foreign countries for the King of France. D'Éon was a multitalented man of letters, law, diplomacy and the military but had fallen out of favor with the royal court. He practiced fencing daily, in fear of his life.

Dear Sir,

I am proud to read my letter on your beautiful blog; I let it be known, as well as your site, to many people, in France and in Africa (more particularly in Gabon where acquaintances are translating in several vernacular langages the nice book of Jean-Claude Halley "le chevalier de Saint-Georges" told to children.)

I send you some photos of our show in order to illustrate what I said in my letter. It was so exceptional - and also so natural - to work with these children from Guadeloupe. Isn't Saint-Georges universal?

As a musician (amateur!) myself - but a passionate lover of music - I congratulate you again for your wonderful work!

Musicalement vôtre !

Catherine Pizon

Rudolph Dunbar Story Aired on BBC Radio 4

Rudolph Dunbar, the Black conductor and clarinettist from Guyana, was profiled at On An Overgrown Path on April 23, 2007, in a post entitled Berlin Philharmonic's first black conductor. The link was later published in the eNewsletter of the Myrtle Hart Society, which promotes composers and musicians of color. Response to the post was unusually heavy, according to Pliable, and it is now linked to Wikipedia. He adds:

Dunbar's inspirational story needs to reach a wider audience, so I was delighted to find BBC Radio 4 broadcasting the Strange Story of Rudolph Dunbar today (August 7 2007). Here is the BBC blurb:

Strange Story of Rudolph Dunbar
Tuesday 7 August 2007 11:30-12:00 (Radio 4 FM)
Wayne Marshall tells the story of Rudolph Dunbar.

Born into poverty in British Guiana, Dunbar became a well-known jazz and classical clarinettist as well as having a European career as a classical conductor.

Despite becoming the first black man to conduct at the Royal Albert Hall and having conducted the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra just days after the end of the Second World War, Dunbar ended his life in obscurity in Britain, convinced that the BBC in particular had barred his way to greater things.

You can to listen to the BBC programme on demand until August 15 here. Following my article as you listen to the broadcast is really quite interesting.

Monday, August 6, 2007

"What a mighty God; Spirituals and gospels for chorus" by Dominique-René de Lerma


Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma is an oboist and musicologist who has been a Professor of Music and a prolific author for more than half a century. For the past four decades he has specialized in Black classical music. The review of the series of four CDs appears in the August 2007 eNewsletter of the Myrtle Hart Society and is used by permission of its Founder/Director, Rashida Black, an African American harpist. The eNewsletter is free and may be requested by E-mail to

Witness, the soul of American music

By Dominique-René de Lerma; Part 3 of 4

What a mighty God; Spirituals and gospels for chorus
VocalEssence Ensemble; Philip Brunelle, conductor; liner notes by Dominique-René de Lerma; texts; series note; performer bios.

Abels, Michael. What a might God. Moore by Four; VocalEssence Chorus; Sanford Moore, piano; Joe Pulice, drums; Gordon Johnson, double bass. (4:14).
Adelmann, Dale. Swing low, sweet chariot. Steve Burger, baritone. (3:27).
Burleigh, Harry T. My Lord, what a morning. (3:40).
Dennard, Brazeal W. Hush! Somebody's calling my name. Yolanda Williams, soprano. (4:40).
Hailstork, Adolphus. Crucifixion. (5:14).
Hairston, Jester. In dat great gittin' up mornin'. Yolanda Williams, soprano. (3:03).
Halloran, Jack. Witness. Sigrid Johnson, conductor. (3:27).
Harris, Robert A. Go down, Moses. Yolanda Williams, soprano. (5:12).
Hogan, Moses. Elijah rock. (3:42).
Moore, Sanford. Go, tell it on the mountain. Robert Commodore, drums; Jay Young, double bass. (5:04).
Moore, Sanford. This train. Moore by Four. (7:39).
Scholz, Robert. Were you there? Brian Link, Tenor. (4:00).
Smallwood, Richard. Jesus, lover of my soul. Moore by Four; Philip Brunelle, piano. (5:22).
Smith, William Henry. Walk together, children. Sanford Moore, piano. (2:33).
Thomas, André. Death is gonna lay his cold, icy hands on me. James Bohn, baritone; Sanford Moore, piano. (3:45).
Thomas, André. Go where I send thee. Michael Morgensen, baritone; Charles Kemper, piano. (3:27).

Non-Black choruses and soloists are either fearless or inhibited when it comes to the performance of spirituals or texts with dialect. Is there any reason why they should avoid this music? If so, then in a parallel situation, a Black singer should avoid German Lieder and Italian opera, but what a loss it would be had Leontyne Price or Jessye Norman followed that restriction! Of course, these ladies had to deal with diction in the foreign language, but that is an obligation every singer must face. It is not a linguistic barrier facing the non-Black singer when the repertoire is enriched, it is political. Jessye Norman's French is so flawless that she was called on to participate in the 200th anniversary of the French revolution, and no protest was registered to my knowledge from France, which has a very strong protectionist policy about its culture.

Brunelle's singers face the dialect straight on, and replicate the sonority of a fine Black college chorus. So also do the singers from St. Olaf, guided by Dr. Anton Armstrong.

The question arises about the setting of a traditional spiritual by one who is not Black, and that is exemplified in a few instances with this recording, but a critical listener would be no more able to identify those composers than one can signal the gender of a composer by the sound of the music.

Of course, we are blessed by the masterful settings of such classic figures as Burleigh (his My Lord might well be the most marvelously performed work here), Hairston, and the more recent figures such as Thomas, Dennard, Hailstork, and Harris. The gospel element enters with the performances of Moore by Four, a well-established ensemble, although some might feel this idiom is in strange company here.

Bach's Sheep may safely graze is merged with Jesus, love of my soul, a gospel synthesis so often beautifully performed in recital by the late Pearl Williams-Jones.

But who is Michael Abels? We first encountered his work in Detroit some years back, when Global warming heralded the emergence of a quite gifted young man. We do not even yet have a proper perspective on his output, where are found pieces for children performers and now he appears in gospel guise. One yearns to have him better represented on recordings.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

"Skyward my people rose: Music of William Grant Still" by Dominique-René de Lerma


Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma is an oboist and musicologist who has been a Professor of Music and a prolific author for more than half a century. For the past four decades he has specialized in Black classical music. The review of the series of four CDs appears in the August 2007 eNewsletter of the Myrtle Hart Society and is used by permission of its Founder/Director, Rashida Black, an African American harpist. The eNewsletter is free and may be requested by E-mail to

Witness, the soul of American music

By Dominique-René de Lerma; Part 2 of 4

Skyward my people rose; Music of William Grant Still
VocalEssence Ensemble; Philip Brunelle, conductor; liner notes by Dominique-René de Lerma; texts; series note; performer bios.

Swanee river. (2:56).
And they lynched him on a tree. Hilda Harris, mezzo-soprano; William Warfield, narrator; Leigh Morris Chorale (17:34).
Miss Sally's party. String orchestra . (9:11).
Reverie. Philip Brunelle, organ. (3:56)
Elegy. Philip Brunelle, organ. (5:25).

There certainly has never been any question about William Grant Still's standing in Black music history, and hardly any justification for not signaling him as a major person to define American music. Further, one immediately can claim his Afro-American symphony of 1930 as being the culmination of the aspirations of the Harlem Renaissance "elevating" the folkloric to the idealization of the concert world (this, despite the rise of Duke Ellington and Bessie Smith by that time). Still grew up in the legacy of the blues and jazz, never disdaining either, but reaching for the world of the symphony and opera. His passion for the latter genre was frustrated in what should have been a major breakthrough.

Troubled island received its première and only production during his life by the New York City Opera. Its fate was determined after only three performances in 1949 by a cabal of racist critics, defying the audience enthusiasm and twenty-two curtain calls (The story is told in the richly documented Just tell the story; Troubled island by Judith Anne Still and Lisa M. Headlee – Flagstaff: The Master-Player Library, 2006).

The works heard on this CD, several for the very first time) come both before and after that unfortunate event. First is his choral setting of Stephen Foster's Swanee river.

The poignant cantata, And they lynched him on a tree, was written in 1940 to a text by Catherine Garrison Chapin. For this performance, Brunelle has called on the stellar forces of Hilda Harris, the late William Warfield, with the African American chorus, Robert L. Morris' Leigh Morris Chorale providing a sympathetic counterpart to the singers of VocalEssence.

Miss Sally's party is a ballet, the scenario provided by the composer's multi-gifted wife and frequent collaborator, Verna Arvey. It centers around mischievous boys who misbehave, failing to win the concluding cakewalk.

The last two works are performed by the conductor, now as organist. The pair come from 1961 and 1963, and could well serve as meditative occasional pieces.

One feature that is included on all of these recordings is the specification of publishers (many of the Still works are available from William Grant Still Music in Flagstaff, operated by the composer's daughter, who has a virtual archive of no end of materials related to all aspects of her father's life and works – jazz arrangements and recordings from the 1920s as well as film scores from the early days of sound movies, when Still's distinctive orchestral sonorities established the Klangideal even for Russian films of the time).

Thursday, August 2, 2007

French Principal Finds Calliope Cover "...ambiguous and scornful (even racist)..."

French Jr. High Principal On Cover Art of Calliope 9373

Dear Mr. Zick,

I have regularly visited AfriClassical with interest and admiration. I am myself passionately interested in the Chevalier de Saint-Georges and therefore the questions raised by the cover of the Calliope CD retained my attention. That’s why I feel a need to express my point of view.

As the Principal of a junior high school near Vichy, France, I staged a theatre show on the life and music of Saint-Georges this year with the collaboration of several primary and secondary schools, music schools and a fencing school. This show was exclusively interpreted by 14 year old students. The progam included a theatre performance, music, singing, dancing and fencing.

Saint-Georges was first introduced to our children through Saint-Georges raconté aux enfants (Saint-Georges told to children), J.C. Halley’s book, and then we adapted Le Divin Saint-Georges, Daniel Marciano’s play. Most of our students, not particularly inclined to 18th century music, often due to an unfavorable family environment for symphonic music, worked on the show during the whole academic year. It was a hard job and they were at times discouraged.

However, when they started rehearsing with costumes - perfect replicas of the period - things changed. A surprising phenomenon of identification took place: the children became Saint-Georges, Nanon, Georges de Bologne, Texier La Boëssière, d’Eon etc. The fencers tried extra hard to cross blades with style and even their attitudes were those of another century; the singers interpreted Saint-Georges’s Romances with greater conviction and the actresses and actors became different people when playing their roles.

When they were not rehearsing, we happened to hear lines of the play or see attempts at fencing bouts in the school yard !

It was simply due to the magic of costumes, authentic gestures and attitudes, the tone and the language of the period.

We are aware of teenagers’ reactions. It is part of our job. They did appreciate performing in the historical context.

On stage, they managed wonderfully to share with the audience all the emotions they felt when discovering the thrilling life of the Chevalier de Saint-Georges: in turn affection, indignation, anger, humor, love, laughter and in fine the dramatic impact of the subject. Through Saint-Georges, the ultimate objective was to speak of the human drama of slavery.

The final scene of the show was a moment of anthology. A beautiful voice off stage summed up the life of Saint-Georges to the strains of the sublime Adagio of Saint-Georges, so dear to Dominique-René de Lerma.

We often hear that Saint-Georges’ music is reserved for informed musicians and in that respect, Les Archets de Paris serve the cause of music. However, their praiseworthy contribution should not prevent others from being genuinely interested in Saint-Georges’ music. (I personally discovered this music almost 40 years ago.) Our show presented the Vichy audience all the aspects of Joseph Bologne’s works: the magnificent overture of L’Amant Anonyme which kept coming back as a leitmotiv, excerpts of concertos, quartets and a selection of Saint-Georges’ Romances sung by two children’s choirs. Interpreting this great musician was a challenge and a source of enjoyment for these youngsters.

However the highlight of the show was the participation of a group of children who came to Vichy with the Mayor of the birthplace of Saint-Georges in Guadeloupe. The encounter of these two worlds was a great event for both the children of Saint-Yorre and Baillif. In this instance, we may talk about the shock of cultures but also about a spontaneous current of sympathy which was established between the children in the presence of the parents who all wanted to take home one of the Baillif children.

Before ending this comment - I hope to have shown my respect for Saint-Georges - I would like to express my deep indignation on hearing unfair accusations against L’Association des Amis de Joseph Bologne. During this hard and ambitious academic year they were constantly by our side to advise us, to bring support and encouragement. We could not have achieved our goal without their generosity and their friendship. I am much indebted to Jean-Claude Halley and Daniel Marciano. The values they defend are just the opposite of the venal conceptions of others who have the pretension of being the ones who discovered Saint-Georges but make blatant mistakes on purpose in order that Saint-Georges may fit into the mold of their conceptions.

I find the cover of the CD utterly distasteful. It is, on the one hand, ambiguous and scornful (even racist), and on the other hand, vulgarity is not likely to attract the curiosity of children. They are far more discriminating than one may think!

To add a few more words about our show which was a success – at a secondary school level of course – we are proud of the participation of 150 children, 30 musicians, 20 fencers and 70 young choristers.

Over 1000 spectators of the region of Vichy attended the show and I think I can say that it was an opportunity to introduce Saint-Georges’ music to the whole region.

RFO was present to cover the event. Their comment may be found on Guadeloupe Attitude, Gens de la Caraïbe, You Tube etc.

We were obviously too modest. We did not perform on the premises of The Senate but hundreds of children and spectators in a little corner of France, far from Paris, discovered an exceptional character, a sensitive and virtuoso musician, a talented fencer, and above all a man whose life remains an example for our youth.

With all my admiration for your work and beautiful website.

Catherine Pizon
Principale du collège Victor Hugo

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

"Witness, the soul of American music" by Dominique-René de Lerma


Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma is an oboist and musicologist who has been a Professor of Music and a prolific author for more than half a century. For the past four decades he has specialized in Black classical music. He is a Professor of Music at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. Prior to assuming his present position, Prof. De Lerma served as Director of the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago. He is principal advisor for

The review of the series of four CDs appears in the August 2007 eNewsletter of the Myrtle Hart Society and is used by permission. The Society is named for an early African American harpist, and its Founder/Director is Rashida Black, also an African American harpist. The organization's motto is: "Illuminating The Accomplishments of Classical Musicians of Color". The website and the eNewsletter fulfill multiple functions, including announcements of performances, reviews, profiles of performers and ensembles. Historical reference material is also researched and compiled. The eNewsletter is free and may be requested by E-mail to

Witness, the soul of American music
By Dominique-René de Lerma; Part 1 of 4

Got the Saint Louis blues, Classical music in the Jazz Age

VocalEssence Ensemble; Philip Brunelle, conductor; liner notes by Dominique-René de Lerma; texts; series note; performer bios.

Burleigh, Harry T. Ethiopia's paean to exaltation. (5:40).
Burleigh, Harry T. O Southland. (3:08).
Dett, R. Nathaniel. Ave Maria. Ryan French, baritone. (3:31).
Dett, R. Nathaniel. Listen to the lambs. (4:28).
Dett, R. Nathaniel. The chariot jubilee. Michael Forest, tenor. (11:43).
Diton, Carl R. Poor mourner's got a home at last. (3:14).
Jenkins, Edmond Thornton. Charlestoniana; Folk rhapsody for orchestra, no. 1; reconstructed by Vincent Plush. (9:30).
Johnson, J. Rosamond. Yamekraw; a Negro rhapsody. Paul Shaw, piano, with orchestra. (15:59).
Handy, W. C. Saint Louis blues, arr. by Hall Johnson. (4:28).
Price, Florence. Moon bridge. (2:23).
Price, Florence. Song for snow (1:57).

This series of four CDs is enjoyable – no question about that – but in the process offers an extraordinary educational potential. The conductor has shown the insight of a highly attuned historian, who can put musicologists out of business as he surveys the African American musical scene of the past century, selecting works of unquestioned historical importance such as one reads about but suspects will never be heard. This is balanced with works of genuine merit, no matter how tentative were the times

Philip Brunelle is based in the musically rich twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, but his frequent engagements carry him to South America and Europe. While he is billed as a choral conductor, he is as at home with an orchestra as before the keyboards of the piano or organ. His concerts, which he founded in 1969 as the Plymouth Music Series, addresses a repertoire not scheduled by the area's eponymous orchestra, but does speak to the various ethnic communities. Their work is not confined to the formality of the concert hall, but is shared with school children (The Twin Cities, with a population under 4,000,000, have an unusually diverse population. About 10% are Chippewa, 5% African American, and 4% each Hispanic or Asian), but VocalEssence, while celebrating these and various European heritages, closes any gaps that might exist in multiracial perspectives.

The earliest work in this set is Diton's Poor moaners got a home at last, from 1914. It comes from these days before the Harlem Renaissance, when songs of slave times were only gradually being accepted. Diton is not often greeted as one of the first figures who sought to make legitimate these precious melodies from the previous century, but he has securely earned that position.

This was the same year as Dett's Listen to the lambs for which he won $25 in a competition. In fact, this is a priceless classic, elegantly performed. When we hear Dvorák's American quartet, we might not be reminded of the spiritual, but Dett, when a student at Oberlin, heard this work in a performance by the Kneisel Quartet, and was reminded of the music his grandmother sang during his Canadian childhood. He dedicated much of his life then towards transforming these gems into anthems and art songs.

Most unexpected within this anthology is quite possibly Charlestoniana (1917), an early work by the son of the founder of Charleston's Jenkins Orphanage (that produced, for example, Cat Anderson). The composer was yet a composition student in Europe, dying only nine years later in Belgium, suggesting we should look not just at New York, Chicago, or even the U.S. for roots of the Harlem Renaissance. Here was a talent and an ambition that was cut too short for its full flowering. The reconstruction by the Australian Vincent Plush involved preparing a concordance of several unfinished drafts, held, like all of Jenkins' extant works, by the Center for Black Music Research in Chicago.

Chronologically next was Burleigh's O Southland (1919), the text by James Weldon Johnson. It was two years later that Burleigh wrote Ethiopia's Paean to Exaltation. The text was by a former slave from North Carolina, Anna Julia Haywood Cooper, who was to earn her Ph.D. in 1925 from the Sorbonne.

In 1920 was the première of Dett's The Chariot Jubilee, which very likely was the first instance of the expansion of a spiritual (Swing low, sweet chariot) into a motet (to be followed in 1930 by his oratorio, The ordering of Moses, his graduate thesis at the Eastman School of Music). This was the same year as his Ave Maria, written for his chorus at the Hampton Institute in Virginia.

Florence Price's Moon bridge comes from 1927, the text by Mary Rolofson Gamble (of the Gamble Hinged Music Company) and Song for snow from 1930, a tribute to her days in Maine (text by Elizabeth Coatsworth). These are two quite innocuous works for chorus. Price is well remembered as a piano teacher from her days in Chicago, where one of her young students was Ned Rorem.

Hall Johnson's setting of the 1914 Handy hit was prepared for the 1939 film, The best of the blues, at a time Johnson had been writing and conducting for Hollywood, where he and his chorus migrated from New York to participate in the film version of The green pastures. The performance, not overly refined, cannot fail to elicit smiles from the listeners. This is a joyously, self-assured work.