Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Nubian Epistle: Conductor James DePreist is Nephew of Singer Marian Anderson

[The Firebird Suite; The Rite of Spring; Igor Stravinsky; James DePreist, Conductor; Delos DE 3278]

“Marian Anderson: The Voice that Challenged a Nation” is a post on the blog “The Nubian Epistle” which explains the family relationship between the legendary singer and James DePreist: “Acclaimed opera singer Marian Anderson is perhaps best remembered for her performance on Resurrection Sunday, 1939 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. She was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on February 27, 1897, (Marian Anderson always claimed she was born on 17 February 1902, however her birth certificate is reported to give her birth date as 27 February 1897). Marian Anderson was the oldest of three daughters born to John and Anna Anderson. Her two sisters, Alice (aka Alyce) and Ethel, also became singers. Ethel Anderson was mother to world renowned orchestra leader James DePreist.” Full Post [James DePreist is profiled at]

Friday, May 30, 2008

Where Can One Find Sheet Music of R. Nathaniel Dett?

[The Collected Piano Works of R. Nathaniel Dett; Summy-Birchard (1973)]

Today received an E-mail inquiry from a visitor in Canada which may be of interest to a number of our readers: “Would you be able to inform where I could purchase the piano scores of Nathaniel Dett?” We replied: “I am delighted to learn of your interest in this composer's sheet music! Sheet music retailers for the piano works of R. Nathaniel Dett include websites such as

The Collected Piano Works of R. Nathaniel Dett is a 203-page paperback book of sheet music with foreword by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma, Professor of Music, Lawrence University, Appleton, Wisconsin. The book was published in 1973 by Summy-Birchard. The website offers a new copy with "slight shelf wear" for US$19.76. I have the book and I strongly recommend it. Only a few copies are left on the market. Please tell your acquaintances of the website” We should point out that used copies are also available on the Internet.

R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943) was an African American composer and pianist whose tenure as Choral Director at Hampton Institute was legendary. He was born in Drummondville, now part of Niagara Falls, Ontario. He died in Battle Creek, Michigan while touring with a Women's Army Corps chorus as a member of the U.S.O. One of his most popular piano works is In the Bottoms, which includes the lively Juba Dance, his best-selling recording. Five brief audio samples of the work can be heard at the R. Nathaniel Dett page of

Kay George Roberts Conducts Opera North in “Egypt's Nights” on Saturday, June 7

Opera North, Inc. will present a performance of the opera Egypt's Nights on Saturday June 7, 2008 at 8:00 pm. The location is the Trinity Center for Urban Life, 2212 Spruce St., Philadelphia. Kay George Roberts, Principal Conductor for Opera North, will conduct the performance. She is a Professor of Music at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Egypt's Nights is an opera composed by Leslie Savoy Burrs, based on the novel Egypt's Nights by Barbara Chase-Riboud. The opera depicts the strength and character of a woman, who explores her physical and spiritual relationships with the two men she loves, her interactions with the people she encounters as she travels abroad and the consequences of her independent nature. Her feelings and actions are represented in a musical dialogue between Marc Antony and Cleopatra.”

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fred Onovwerosuoke: 'The first African composer to write for the alto flute'

[African Art Music for Flute: The Music of Ndondana, Nketia, Onovwerosuoke, Tamusuza, and Uzoigwe; Wendy Hymes, flutes; Darryl Hollister, piano; AMP Records AGCD 2081 (2008)]

AfriClassical has previously posted: “African Art Music for Flute: The Music of Ndondana, Nketia, Onovwerosuoke, Tamuzusa, and Uzoigwe”. Today we focus on Dr. Fred Onovwerosuoke, composer of the first three works on the CD, who also founded the St. Louis African Chorus in 1994 and remains its Director. Dr. Wendy Hymes, who plays flutes on the recording, writes in the liner notes at
Fred Onovwerosuoke’s diverse background gave rise to a varied compositional style. Born in Ghana to Nigerian parents, he has traveled to more than thirty African countries doing field work in African traditional musics, played violin, piano, organ, guitar and became an experienced choir and instrumental ensemble conductor.”

Wendy Hymes writes further: Fred Onovwerosuoke: Three Pieces for Flute and Piano (Tracks 1-3)” “The piece is a musical setting of a poem by the composer, and uses a combination of pentatonic, hexatonic, and twelve-tone harmonies to portray the poem’s imagery of a forest at night and its bird calls. Two improvisatory sounding flute cadenzas accompany the narration of the poem. Rushing flourishes by the flute and piano at the end of the piece portray the forest’s now awakened joyous birds. Iroro, meaning reminiscences, and draws from the initiation dances of the Igbe priests and priestesses, a cult of the River Goddess in Nigeria. Iroro portrays xylophones and large bamboo flutes in the accompanying piano, with the lead flute played by the alto flute. The first African composer to write for the alto flute, Onovwerosuoke harnesses its haunting timbre in modal and improvisatory-sounding melodies to reflect the trance-like state of the ceremony participants.”

Naxos: 'Leo Brouwer is perhaps the most important representative' on Friedemann Wuttke's CD

[Concierto de Volos (28:01); Orquesta de Cordoba; Leo Brouwer, Conductor; GHA Records 126.025 (1998)]

Naxos Blog
Posted by: Kelly in New Releases
20th Century Guitar – The Art of Modern Guitar
Friedemann Wuttke, guitarist
Compositions by Wedlich, Brouwer, and Domeniconi

Guitarist Friedemann Wuttke has performed compositions from all periods of music in his concerts and recordings; from the earliest guitar arrangements through Classical and modern contemporary works. Wuttke’s newest album 20th Century Guitar, features some of the most beloved guitar composers of our time including Ulrich Wedlich, Leo Brouwer, and Carlo Domeniconi.”

Cuban-born and self-taught composer Leo Brouwer is perhaps the most important representative of 20th Century Guitar music on the recording. His Concerto Elegiaco for Guitar and Orchestra gives the impression of a large, lush, Romantic era orchestra. In reality, the piece is scored for strings and 2 percussionists; one playing kettle drums, the other playing a drum, tom tom, marimba, and glockenspiel.” Full Post [The Afro-Cuban composer Leo Brouwer is profiled at]

Comment on Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: “Several first rate recordings have appeared.”

[African Heritage Symphonic Series, Vol. 1; Danse Nègre From African Suite (6:14); Petite Suite de Concert (13:36); Samuel Coleridge-Taylor; Chicago Sinfonietta; Paul Freeman, Conductor; Cedille 90000 055 (2000)]

Yesterday AfriClassical posted “Annotated Photo of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Afro-British Composer, on Flickr”. Mike S. Wright comments: “I heartily disagree with the comment in that blog: 'And yet, the works of this talented composer are now out of fashion; little of his music is available in printed form.' That may have been true some years ago but there is a clear renaissance as witnessed by performances at last year's Henry Wood Promenade Concerts (and more to come this year) Several first rate recordings have appeared. He is not out of fashion!!!”

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Annotated Photo of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Afro-British Composer, on Flickr
He called himself an Anglo-African and fought against race prejudice all his short life. He incorporated black traditional music with concert music, with such compositions as African Suite, African Romances and Twenty Four Negro Melodies. The first performance of Hiawatha's Wedding Feast was described by the principal of the Royal College of Music as 'one of the most remarkable events in modern English musical history', and this work was acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic.

And yet, the works of this talented composer are now out of fashion; little of his music is available in printed form. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor is today all but forgotten in the country of his birth. He was born in Holborn, London on 15th August 1875. His father, Daniel Peter Hughes Taylor, came from Sierra Leone to Britain in the 1860s, studied medicine, qualified as a member of the Royal College of Surgeons, practiced in Croydon, went back to Africa, was appointed coroner of the Gambia in 1894. [Samuel Coleridge-Taylor is profiled at, where 8 brief audio samples of his music can be heard.] Full Post

Fela Sowande, Nigerian Composer Born May 29, 1905

[Fela Sowande: African Suite for Strings; The New Symphony Strings; Trevor Harvey, conductor; Decca LM 4547 (1952)]

The Nigerian composer, organist and Professor Olufela Sowande was born in Oyo, Nigeria on May 29, 1905. He is profiled at Bode Omojola, Ph.D., chronicles his life and career in the 1995 book, Nigerian Art Music, in which he observes: “Fela Sowande is undoubtedly the father of modern Nigerian Art Music and perhaps the most distinguished and internationally known African composer. The most significant pioneer-composer of works in the European classical idiom, his works mark the beginning of an era of modern Nigerian Art Music.”

Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma has posted an excerpt on Fela Sowande from a manuscript on Black composers: Prof. De Lerma's biography of the composer includes a detailed Works List and a Bibliography.

April 11, 2008 AfriClassical Blog posted African Suite by Fela Sowande Digitally Remastered From 1952 Decca LP”. The article explained that Mike S. Wright, Chair, International Society for African to American Music (ISAAM), had digitally remastered the content of the 1952 LP and planned to issue a CD within a few months.

Comment on African American Soprano Hope Foye

Today AfriClassical posted “Soprano Hope Foye Celebrates Black Music Month at California African American Museum Jun 1”. The news prompted a comment from Mike S. Wright, Chair, International Society for African to American Music (ISAAM), who is based in the U.K.: “Very interesting! I did not realise she was still alive let alone still doing 'gigs' wow!”

New York Times: 'Amistad' by Composer Anthony Davis Returns to Stage At Spoleto U.S.A.

[Anthony Davis is composer of Amistad; Thulani Davis is librettist]

New York Times: At Spoleto Festival, Revisiting a Fateful Chapter in Slavery
By Daniel J. Wakin

Published: May 24, 2008
“CHARLESTON, S.C. — Not so often do new American operas find life after birth. But Anthony Davis’s 'Amistad,' a historically inspired exploration of slavery and freedom, has come back to the stage 11 years after its debut at the Chicago Lyric Opera, and in a deeply resonant setting.

“It is the central work at this summer’s Spoleto Festival U.S.A., whose host is Charleston, a city fully freighted with slavery’s legacy. The relevance has not been lost on African-Americans involved: the composer, the librettist, performers and audience members. 'This is one of the main ports of slavery,' said Gregg Baker, who sings the part of Cinque, leader of the band of captive Africans who are the subject of the story. 'To do it down here was a bit, I guess, ironic. Slavery basically built this town.'

Mr. Baker spoke at an outdoor reception after the opening-night performance of “Amistad” on Thursday at the newly restored Memminger Auditorium, this city’s latest pride and joy and a major performance space of the festival.”

“The opera is based on historical events involving a Spanish slave ship, La Amistad, in 1839-41. A group of West Africans — Mende and Temne people from what is now Sierra Leone — were seized and taken to Cuba for sale as slaves. As the ship moved on to another Caribbean island, they rose up, killed most of the crew and sought to return home, but the ship’s navigator tricked them into sailing toward the United States.

They were captured on Long Island and put on trial in Connecticut, which was deemed more sympathetic to slavery. Abolitionists took up their cause. John Quincy Adams, a former president, defended them, and the Supreme Court eventually ruled that the Africans should be considered free people.” “Nigel Redden, the festival’s director, said he had long wanted to bring 'Amistad' to Spoleto U.S.A. but only on the condition that Mr. Davis tighten the work. 'I felt this was an opera that needed to be redone,' Mr. Redden said. 'It was too massive in Chicago.'

Mr. Davis and the librettist, his cousin the writer Thulani Davis, set to work. Several scenes were cut. The characters of President Martin Van Buren, a Spanish minister and a United States senator were discarded. Lines were eliminated. The orchestra was reduced to 45 from 65. Textures were thinned.Mr. Davis acknowledged that the opera had needed surgery. 'It just involved too many people,' he said.” Full Post

Soprano Hope Foye Celebrates Black Music Month at California African American Museum June 1

John Malveaux tells AfriClassical that the 86-year-old African American soprano Hope Foye will help celebrate Black Music Month in a program at 1 p.m. Sunday, June 1, 2008 at the California African American Museum, located at 600 State Drive, Exposition Park, Los Angeles. The Museum opens at 11 a.m.; the live program begins at 1 p.m. Admission is free. Parking is at 39th and Figueroa Streets and is $6 per vehicle.

Join us as we celebrate the voices and harmonious sounds of Black Music Month from a cappella to talented performers of R&B, Broadway and hip hop. We'll have it all! Included in the program will be students from the Culture and Language Academy of Success, spoken word artists Joshua Larnelle and Marcia Parker, soprano Hope Foye, singer Sabrina "Bri" Johnson, classical bass vocalist K.B. Solomon, duo Taniq with their band and Padre Glyn Jemmott.”

Hope Foye was 14 when she won a scholarship to the Hart School of Music, according to an article by Greg Mellen in the Press-Telegram of Long Beach, California on March 20, 2008: “After shining at the Hartt School for four years, a scout from the New York City Metropolitan Opera came to the school, purportedly to audition Foye. When the scout saw Foye was black, he refused even to look her in the eye. Foye's dream of singing for 'the Met' had been dashed.”

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

William E. Thomas Conducts His Last Concert of Cambridge Community Chorus

Classical Music Review: A Choral Farewell
By ArtsFuse on May 27, 2009 in Music
By Caldwell Titcomb

The Cambridge Community Chorus (CCC) was founded in 1990, and has in the past 18 years grown in size and skill under the leadership of William Ethaniel Thomas. Thomas is retiring from his post and led his farewell concert in Sanders Theatre on May 25 before an enthusiastic audience. For his final program Thomas chose two large works: one by Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809), and one by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912).”

Following intermission, Thomas turned to Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast by the remarkably gifted Afro-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Conductor Thomas, who is black, has for years championed the music of Coleridge-Taylor. Wearing his other hat as a cellist, Thomas founded the Coleridge Ensemble and has performed and recorded the composer’s chamber music.

Coleridge-Taylor learned the violin and piano early, and exhibited unusual compositional talent already as a teenager, soon drawing praise from Sir Edward Elgar and Sir Arthur Sullivan. At the age of 23 he became a celebrity with the 1898 premiere of Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast for chorus, tenor soloist and a sizeable orchestra including three trombones, tuba, tambourine, cymbals, bass drum, and harp. For many years the piece was, except for Handel’s Messiah, the most frequently performed choral work.” Full Post

On An Overgrown Path on James DePreist's Absence From The Juilliard Tour of China

Earlier today, AfriClassical posted that the Juilliard Orchestra was touring China without Maestro James DePreist, who had been scheduled to conduct the ensemble from May 26-June 6, 2008. We appreciate the reference to our post on the major U.K. classical music blog On An Overgrown Path:AfriClassical reports that in a last minute change African American conductor James DePreist, who is Director of Conducting and Orchestral Studies at the Juilliard School and nephew of Marian Anderson, will not, as previously announced, be leading the Juilliard Orchestra in their imminent tour of China which takes in Beijing and Shanghai. Instead the concerts will be led by Chinese conductor Xian Zhang.”

Justinian Tamusuza's Work on “African Art Music for Flute” is “Okwanjula Kw’Endere”

[African Art Music for Flute: The Music of Ndondana, Nketia, Onovwerosuoke, Tamuzusa, and Uzoigwe; Wendy Hymes, flutes; Darryl Hollister, piano; AMP Records AGCD 2081 (2008)]

The longest single track on
African Art Music for Flute by Wendy Hymes on flutes and Darryl Hollister on piano is Okwanjula Kw'Endere by the Ugandan composer Justinian Tamusuza (b. 1951). He has often been called one of the most distinguished African composers of classical music. provides the equivalent of a liner note on the composition:

Okwanjula Kw’Endere, meaning “Introduction of the flute,” is the first movement of a larger chamber work Ekivvulu Ky’Endere (“African Festivity for Flute”) written for flute, viola, prepared harp, marimba and maracas and premiered by the Ugandan group, Abaana B’Engoma. The Ugandan bamboo flute called the endere is used widely by shepherds in a pastoral setting as well as in traditional festivals like weddings and as royal court music of the King of Buganda, the kabaka. Tamusuza uses microtonal fingerings, flutter tonguing, simultaneous singing and playing, harmonics pitch bends and key clicks to simulate the spirit of Kigandan endere music. The microtones and pitch slides portray characteristic amateur traditional singers “who join in the communal singing, but now and then go out of tune” and the “vocal music where there is usually an inflectional rise on the final pitch or just before.” Adam Lesnick refers to this music’s “poly-rhythms [which] dazzle the ear with misleading accents, tripping up the happy and complex weave of simple pentatonic melodies.”

Justinian Tamusuza's website chronicles his success in Western classical music: “Tamusuza first came to world attention through the Kronos Quartet, whose CD "Pieces of Africa" features Tamusuza's first string quartet, Mu Kkubo Ery'Omusaalaba. The CD reached No. 1 on the Billboard Classical and World Music Charts in 1992. He has since been commissioned by Kronos (for his second string quartet), the International Society of contemporary Music, ISCM (Essen, Germany 1995), the Chamber Symphony of Princeton and the Richmond Symphony Orchestra of Virginia."

Juilliard Orchestra Tours China Without Maestro James DePreist

The African American conductor James DePreist (b. 1936) is Director of Conducting
and Orchestral Studies at the Juilliard School.
The Juilliard Orchestra was scheduled
to give concerts in Beijing and Shanghai from May 26-June 6, 2008 under his direction.
Gloria Gottschalk, Media Relations Manager for The Juilliard School, informed AfriClassical
yesterday: “James DePreist will not be going on the tour. Zhang Xian is now the

Monday, May 26, 2008

African Art Music for Flute: Wendy Hymes, flutes, and Darryl Hollister, piano

Shortly before the release of the CD, AfriClassical posted: “African Art Music for Flute: The Music of Ndondana, Nketia, Onovwerosuoke, Tamuzusa, and Uzoigwe”. The recording is AMP Records AGCD 2081 (2008). Today we focus on the performers, Wendy Hymes, flutes, and Darryl Hollister, piano. provides these biographical summaries:

Wendy Hymes holds BA, MM and DMA degrees in music from Principia College, Indiana University and Louisiana State University respectively. Her principal flute teachers have been Marie Garritson Jureit, Jacques Zoon and Katherine Kemler. She has played with Synchronia (a contemporary American music ensemble), St. Louis Philharmonic, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra as well as chamber music with leading soloists such as violinist Rachel Barton, the late organist Lucius Weathersby, with whom she collaborated on the Spiritual Fantasy album (Albany Records). Ms. Hymes is known to exert definitive interpretations to standard repertoire from the Baroque era to 20 th-century composers. She sets the pace in intercultural music, especially those by non-European composers from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. She has given over 30 world premieres, including regular feature at the Compositions in Africa & the Diaspora symposia and the Festivals of African & African American Music, and recent Jubilee Celebration Festival in Accra, Ghana. Her doctoral dissertation entitled African Art Music for Flute: Selected Works by African Composers provided the initial inspiration for this CD, and her recent article New Horizons: The World of African Art Music for Flute in the Winter 2008 issue of the Flutist Quarterly (a journal of the National Flute Association) is a continuation of her efforts to give voice to flute repertoire from other parts of the world.

Darryl Hollister received his B.M. and MM from Michigan State University and the New England Conservatory of Music, respectively. He has studied with Ralph Votapek, Deborah Moriarty, and Patricia Zander. He actively serves as accompanist for the Dedham Choral Society, Coro Allegro, the Framingham Heritage Chorale, and Commonwealth School Chorus and Chorale, the Boston College Chorale, Nashua Choral Society, and the Boston Concert Opera. A champion of new music and works by African-descent composers, Mr. Hollister has premiered numerous works, including Gyimah Labi’s Baptism of Fire: Symphony Concertante for Three Pianos and Orchestra, Dialects in African Pianism, The Spring of Esentre, Paul Konye’s Concertino Africana for Piano and Orchestra, Gary Nash’s Three Ivory Magnolia Fantasies, and of course, the works on this CD. His piano recitals have been acclaimed at Harvard University, Cambridge University and the University of London, as well as the Kennedy Center.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Fanfare: Tania León's “Bailarin” is “the work of a modern composer ringing her changes”

Fanfare Magazine February 11, 2008: David Starobin: FAMILY ALBUM on BRIDGE
Written by Robert Schulslaper
“David Starobin is one of America’s best-known guitarists, the dedicatee of 350 scores by such composers as Elliot Carter, George Crumb, Lukas Foss, Gunther Schuller, Poul Ruders, and Milton Babbitt, among many others, and the founder of Bridge records. His Family Album includes the work of four composers (besides himself) whom the guitarist fondly regards as 'old friends and collaborators—virtually family.'”

Tania León was born in Cuba, but resides in New York. Bailarín ('Dancer') strikes a Latin pose, but the result is more Cubist than traditional portraiture. In other words, León uses patterns and rhythms that allude to conventional dances, but abstracts and recombines the elements in unexpected ways. Starobin puts it perfectly: 'Bailarín ’s insistent groove might spring from Tania’s Caribbean origins, but the piece is very much the work of a modern composer ringing her changes.'” Full Post

Nokuthula Ngwenyama Performs At Viola Congress In Tempe, Arizona June 6

Arizona State University in the Community:

The ASU Herberger College School of Music welcomes viola performers, students, educators, and music enthusiasts for the 36th International Viola Congress, June 4 – 8, 2008. Participants represent more than a dozen countries and five continents.”

“More than 40 featured artists are scheduled to appear, including Heidi Castleman, Donald McInnes, Roland Vamos, and Kim Kashkashian, who is presenting a solo recital opening night of the Congress, June 4.

On June 6, another signature event features internationally-renown artists Paul Coletti, Hsin-Yun Huang, Paul Neubauer, and Nokuthula Ngwenyama, each performing a viola concerto or solo work with orchestra. The June 6, 8 p.m., concerto concert is open to the public. Access for other Congress events is reserved for official registrants.” Full Post Details:

The African American violist Nokuthula Ngwenyama (b. 1976) will p
erform the Milhaud Concerto No. 1 for viola and 16 solo instruments. Her website is: She is also profiled at

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pianist Greg Kostraba Makes William Grant Still's Kaintuck' & Summerland A “Musical Treat”

[Africa: Piano Music of William Grant Still; Denver Oldham, piano; Koch 3 7084 2H1 (1991)]

May 21, 2008

Change in LSO's final concert leads to special musical treat
Special to The Journal & Courier, Lafayette and West Lafayette, Indiana

The cancellation of the appearance of the Purdue Glee Club as the guest artists for the final concert of the Lafayette Symphony's season resulted in a significant change in the program. Since the concert was dedicated to the observance of Armed Forces Day, much of the original programming included music that filled that bill.

However, one of Lafayette's former residents agreed to fill the gap and the result was a musical treat for the audience and the orchestra alike. Former radio broadcaster for WBAA-Purdue, Greg Kostraba, came back to town and once again appeared with the LSO as he had on other occasions. With the cooperation of the orchestra and Maestro Nicholas Palmer, he brought along music by the American composer William Grant Still and the ever-pleasing "Rhapsody in Blue" of George Gershwin.

Kostraba is a pianist of fine reputation having participated in several major piano competitions over the years. He also can claim the honor of helping to found the Tippecanoe Chamber Music Society which has been pleasing audiences for the past decade.

The music of composer Still fills a large catalog of compositions ranging from serious music to at least one movie score. All of it has a definite feeling of jazz, African-American blues, and a touch here and there of gospel. He composed in all musical media including orchestra, band, choral, solo instruments and vocal music. The orchestra beautifully supported Kostraba in "Kaintuck" a tone poem reminiscent of W. C. Handy of "St. Louis Blues" fame and for whom Still made various orchestrations. Kostraba caught the mood of the piece. The flashy and demanding work proved a delight to the audience rewarding him and the orchestra with prolonged applause.

Other selections by this composer proved to be equally exciting causing one to wonder why orchestras do not choose to play more of this Ellington-era composer. A solo piano encore "Summerland" also by Still quietly closed the evening's program. Full Post

Dallas Symphony Will Perform “Primary Movements” of Jonathan Bailey Holland June 20

Pegasus News: Dallas Symphony Orchestra to put on African American Festival
By Pietro Elina of North Dallas Gazette

“The Dallas Symphony Orchestra announced plans for the 15
th Annual 2008 African American Festival last Monday.” “ Unexpectedly, this year’s Festival will feature collaborations with Flint, Michigan’s renowned black composer Jonathan Bailey Holland, and our own community’s Dallas Black Dance Theater, who will perform Holland’s original, Primary Movements.”

“Proceeds from the African American Festival will be benefiting the Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s Summer Enrichment Program and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Young Strings Program.

The Young Strings Program is a unique, nationally recognized program, which promotes musical talent in young African American and Hispanic string players.” Full Post

William Grant Still Opera Suggestion Elicits Comment from Composer's Daughter

Earlier today AfriClassical posted “William Grant Still Among Composers Suggested for Washington National Opera”. An enthusiastic E-mail comment has been received from Judith Anne Still, the composer's daughter, who operates William Grant Still Music, “SO TRUE! Yes! The suggestion is right on.”

William Grant Still's “Danzas de Panama” Performed by Alexa Still and the Berlin Symphoniker

[William Grant Still: La Guiablesse, Danzas de Panama, Quit Dat Fool'nish, Summerland; Alexa Still, flute; Berliner Symphoniker; Isaiah Jackson, conductor; Koch 3 7154 2H1 (1993)]

AfriClassical previously posted this news from Detroit's Chamber Music at the Scarab Club for Sunday, June 1, 2008: “Our 10th season comes to an exciting close with
Danzas de Panama for string quartet by William Grant Still, Quintet No. 1 in D Major for flute and strings by Friedrich Kuhlau, and Theme and Variations for flute and string quartet by Amy Beach. Musicians include: Laura Larson - flute, Velda Kelly and Andrew Wu - violins, John Madison and Scott Stefanko - violas, Nadine Deleury – cello. For more info visit

Today we take a look at a unique CD by the African American Conductor Isaiah Jackson and the Berliner Symphoniker. Two of Still's major dance works are found on Koch 3 7154 2H1 (1993). The first is La Guiablesse (18:35), consisting of nine brief dances. The second major composition is Danzas de Panama (14:00). The four dances are titled: Tamborito, Mejorana, Punto and Cumbia. The liner notes are by Dana Paul Perna: “As its title implies, Danzas de Panama derives its melodies from Panamanian dance themes collected by Elisabeth Waldo. Still took these dance themes and cast them for string quartet, quintet or, as heard on this recording, for string orchestra. He made every effort to approximate the sounds of native instruments thereby giving this piece an arresting character.”

William Grant Still Among Composers Suggested for Washington National Opera

[William Grant Still's Opera Troubled Island was performed in 1949 by the New York City opera company]

Garth Trinkl writes on the blog Renaissance Research
:A distinguished American conductor has posted a comment below suggesting that our Washington National Opera should consider staging American operas by American classical composers Deems Taylor, William Grant Still, Howard Hanson, Robert McBride, and Nicholas Flagello – among others.” “Remember, our Washington National Opera promised the Congress of the United States, and the American people, that it would stage one American opera each and every season.” [The African American composer, oboist, arranger and conductor William Grant Still (1895-1978) wrote the opera Troubled Island,, which was staged by the New York City opera company in 1949. Still is profiled at] Full Post

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Dr. Fred Onovwerosuoke: “Twenty-Four Studies in African Rhythms” and “Sonata No. 3”

AfriClassical has received an update from Dr. Fred Onovwerosuoke:
“Last Thursday (May 15, 2008) was a milestone in the life of my
Twenty-Four Studies in African Rhythms Volume I. It was one year old from the publication date and we’ve since topped $5000 selling the scores and audio rendition CDs as fundraisers for the African Chorus organization! Now, that’s a feat even the big publishing firms would be proud of, but it was achieved with our little outfit, African Music Publishers, a fundraising unit for the St. Louis African Chorus. Something is clicking out there, I don’t know exactly what yet, but something is clicking…

And I should never forget to thank each of you for your promotional efforts. I really am indebted to you all, especially some of you our benefactors who’ve preferred to remain anonymous. But let me single out the efforts of pianists William Chapman Nyaho ( who in the last year has performed selections of the Studies in concerts around North America and Silvia Belfiore ( who’s attracting new friends for the Studies around Italy. I’ve since released some of my scores to our storefront. That link at

Volume II is now being compiled. Five studies down now; seven more to go… Naturally, I’ve dedicated Study 24 to William Chapman Nyaho and Study 20 to Silvia Belfiore. Oh, keep your ears perked for the release of Nyaho’s new CD, Asa, on MSR Classics label….”

He adds: “[T]here is a practice CD for all 12 Studies in Volume I of the Twenty-Four Studies in African Rhythms. And Nyaho’s new CD, Asa, includes six of the Studies.”

Dr. Onovwerosuoke has completed Sonata No. 3 for Two Pianos, commissioned by the Nyaho/Garcia Piano Duo. The St. Louis African Chorus has also compiled a new choral anthology, Songs of Africa, which has been edited by Dr. Onovwerosuoke. It will be published this Summer by Oxford University Press.

“Grade A” Review of “Bloch and Lees: Violin Concertos”, Conducted by John McLaughlin Williams

John McLaughlin Williams tells AfriClassical of a May 15, 2008 review by Donald Rosenberg, Cleveland Plain Dealer Music Critic: “This is a capsule review in last weekend's Cleveland Plain Dealer. The cd is still so new that it will be a while before the reviews start rolling in.”

Bloch and Lees: Violin Concertos
Elmar Oliveira, John McLaughlin Williams

Elmar Oliveira is the exceptional soloist on this disc of poignant and powerful violin concertos by Ernest Bloch and Benjamin Lees. Bloch, the first president of the Cleveland Institute of Music, wrote his concerto in 1939 for the Cleveland Orchestra and violinist Joseph Szigeti. It is a rich fabric of moody thematic material, with violinist as forceful protagonist. Lees' 1958 concerto abounds in poetic and impassioned material. John McLaughlin Williams leads the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine in fine, elastic performances.
Grade: A