Sunday, February 15, 2009

Richard Antoine White, Born Homeless, is Doctoral Candidate in Tuba Performance

[Richard Antoine White, International Musician, February 2009]

AfriClassical recently heard from Richard Antoine White, a tuba player in the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and a Doctoral Candidate in Tuba Performance at Indiana University:
American Federation of Musicians
International Musician Magazine
February 2009
White, once he’s finished defending his dissertation this spring, will be the first African-American to earn a doctorate in tuba performance from Indiana University (IU), though this accomplishment once seemed all but impossible. Born homeless on the streets of Baltimore, White relied upon an innate affinity for music and a gradually-developed discipline to get his life going in the right direction. With guidance from a series of supportive teachers, White has propelled himself to levels of success that his musically-curious sixth-grade self never could have foreseen. As a player, teacher, and scholar, White’s approach is simple and solid: “I need to do this to be successful and so that I can show people that it’s possible.”

Becoming a Pioneer
In 2004, White began searching intensively for a permanent orchestral position. Several became available in a short span and he went from Boston to Denver to San Francisco for auditions, before landing a one-year position with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra (NMSO) in Albuquerque. When a second year was offered, White stayed on. Soon he took root in New Mexico and earned tenure with the orchestra, in addition to teaching at the University of New Mexico and playing with the Santa Fe Opera. Even after heading west, White had his doctorate in mind, and after several years of work, he submitted his first draft thesis for review in August. The title, rather than being filled with academic jargon, is almost whimsically simple: “What If Bach Had Had a Tuba?” He explores Baroque music, including figured bass, and delves into the accuracy of transcriptions of Bach’s scores for White’s chosen instrument.

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