Thursday, February 12, 2009

St. Louis Post-Dispatch 'Violinist brings attention to black composers'

[American Virtuosa: Tribute to Maud Powell; Deep River, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor; Rachel Barton Pine, violin; Matthew Hagle, piano; Cedille Records 90000 097 (2007)]

“There's no one quite like Rachel Barton Pine: gifted violinist, matter-of-fact survivor and impassioned ambassador for all kinds of music. Next weekend, she'll be in St. Louis as part of the Festival of African and African-American Music.” “She's got 14 CDs out, and the most recent, a two-disc set that pairs the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the one by Franz Clement, the performer for whom Beethoven's was written, hit No. 5 on the Billboard classical charts. She performs with orchestras around the country and the world.” "'Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass both played the violin as an avocation,' Pine says. 'We want African-American string players to realize that classical music is indeed part of their culture.'"

Her interest in black composers brings her to St. Louis. In 1992, when she was concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's training ensemble, the Civic Orchestra, conductor Michael Morgan put together a program of music by black composers. She soloed in the modern premiere of a recently rediscovered concerto by an 18th-century Afro-French composer. It was a beautiful piece, and she got a terrific response. That led to a recording project of violin concertos by black composers of the 18th and 19th centuries.” “This concert will focus on black composers of the African continent. The conference director, Fred Onovwerosuoke (known as "FredO") is from Nigeria, and the program will include some of his compositions, along with a wide range of other music. 'I hope to give people a little taste of what this repertoire is,' Pine says.” [The Festival of African and African-American Music: A Tribute to Great African Composers is Feb. 12-15, 2009.]

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