AfriClassical excerpts a post of the Detroit Symphony's blog for December 2009:
Classical Roots in the 21st Century
“Billy Childs’ Violin Concerto with Regina Carter Anchors Groundbreaking Music Program
By Marilou Carlin
Classical music written by African-American composers has been at the heart of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s 'Classical Roots' concerts since the series was introduced 32 years ago. During this time, the concerts have presented brilliant works by celebrated 20th century composers including William Grant Still, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, Ulysses Simpson Kay and Duke Ellington, to name just a few.
“While these legendary artists will no doubt continue to be revisited in the coming years, 'Classical Roots' wholeheartedly embraces the 21st century this season as it focuses on contemporary composers. Three generations of working composers are represented in this year’s concerts (January 29 and 30), reflecting the tremendous contributions that African Americans are currently making to classical music. They include Olly Wilson, 72; William “Billy” Childs, 52; and James Lee III, 34.”
“Carter received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2006, at which time the organization noted how 'her early training as a classical musician is reflected in the fluidity, grace and balance of her performance.'” “Olly Wilson, who also began his career as a jazz pianist, has been composing for more than 40 years.” “The DSO concerts will feature the DSO Premiere of Lumina, a work that explores the 'aural qualities of luminosity.'” “James Lee III, who received his Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate degrees from the University of Michigan, says that his work Beyond Rivers of Vision was 'inspired by rivers of the bible and the visions of men associated with those rivers.'” [Duke Ellington, Ulysses Simpson Kay, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson and William Grant Still are profiled at AfriClassical.com]