Wednesday, September 30, 2009 “Tage Larsen, the Chicago Symphony’s Groundbreaking Trumpeter Talks to Sergio Mims”

[Tage Larsen (Photo from]

Sergio Mims is an African American host of a classical music program on WHPK-FM 88.5 in Chicago. He writes: “Hey Folks! Here's my interview with Tage Larsen, the first African American member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Let me know what you think of it. Front page: Larsen interview: Sergio"
By Sergio A. Mims
Refreshingly honest, passionate and extraordinary talented, trumpeter and Massachusetts native Tage Larsen made history when he became, in 2002, the first African American member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, acclaimed as one of the greatest, most prestigious orchestras in the world (with the legendary conductor Ricardo Muti, formally the music director of the La Scala Opera House, to become the CSO’s music director in the 2010/11 season).
Larsen, who previously was principal trumpet with the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra and second trumpet with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, is one of the very talented few musicians to become a member of a prestigious major orchestra with an unrivaled international reputation performing under major conductorsaround the world.

Recently Ebony had an opportunity to talk to Tage about his background, how he got into classical music and how hard work pays off big dividends.Why classical music instead the perhaps more expected genres, like jazz, hip-hop, R & B?
Well with classical music - it sounds a little bit strange - but it’s like defining yourself into the box as tightly as possible. Haydn, Mozart -- the music is so refined and there’s something about that. All the corners are rounded off in trying to achieve this sense of order and texture. I was really drawn into that dimension.
Well that brings up the point that if you’re thinking about a career in classical music, the major thing is that you’ve got to be really, really good, a virtuoso. You don’t make it by being passable or just good enough. It’s not about superficial packaging, which in other musical genres is enough to get by.
You have to be good and you have to be really interested in the craft. To achieve a high level you have to make it a personal journey. You have to be willing to sacrifice, to get better at it. With a pop Artist, you might make it big and get that hit and make millions of dollars, but in classical music there’s no such reward.
You might get a regular Sunday church-playing gig, but who knows?
There’s no guarantee.
Of course there are opera singers and concert performers who do extremely well but nothing like what say a hip-hop artist could do. You have to do it for the love of it. And that’s one of the things that drove me to it. For whatever reason I love the idea that you can strive to perfect your craft and work to achieve that goal.
You were once quoted that when you were struggling, trying to perfect your playing and but facing endless rejection trying to find an orchestral position that you said to yourself: “I can’t do this anymore. This is crazy.” What kept you going?
The love of it! I remember coming to Chicago to audition for the orchestra for the second or third time… actually there were auditions for two positions, one at the Lyric Opera and the other at the Chicago Symphony within weeks of one another. For the symphony I was in the semi-finals but I didn’t get either job and I remember after those auditions I thought I can’t do this anymore. I was driving back in my car and was so despondent I cut off the car radio. I didn’t want to hear it anymore. And then a couple of days later after getting past the disappointment…it was just the love! The love!
The idea of playing in an orchestra, performing such great wonderful music, the idea of working hard and to keep practicing made me stronger and kept me going and working at it.
I read that another influence on your love of classical music is when your father gave you a recording of Jean Sibelius' Second Symphony. What was it about that work?
The big brass fanfares, the melodies, the transforming power of it is what really drew me to it.
And what performers inspire you?
Wynton Marsalis without question. I’m always all the time checking out what he’s performing, what he’s writing about. Performers like that, performers like Wynton, Daniel Barenboim (former musical director of the CSO, now the music director of the Berlin Staatskapelle and Berlin State Opera and principal guest conductor at La Scala Opera), David McGill who’s the principal bassoonist for the CSO - they’re geniuses, artists like that have this infinite amount of… fire! Not only are they unbelievable at their craft and performance, but also in so many interested in the way music is transforming can change lives. I think we underestimate the power of music and the arts and really how important it is.
I have to ask did you, when you were younger, experience any peer pressure and criticism about your interest in classical music? You know that you’re “acting white?”
Right, right (laughs). Well I was very fortunate in the sense that I come from a multi-ethnic background so I was able to just walk along from going from middle school to high school. There was a little bit of that but it was so easy for me because in my family situation it didn’t affect me so much. I was able to concentrate on the quality of everything and not get so much into why.
What was the progression going from a music student to the Chicago Symphony?
I went to Michigan State for my undergrad and Eastman School of Music for my masters and then after that I was in the U.S. Marine Band playing for the President for four years and then to the St Louis Orchestra for two years and then the Chicago Symphony. But there was always the drive, the desire to be involved in music.
But when you decided to try out for the Chicago Symphony we’re talking the big leagues now. Any apprehension or second thoughts about trying out?
Well that’s really funny because when you’re young there is always that sort of apprehension. Am I ready? Am I good enough? Can I make it? But it was this particular experience where I realized I had a chance. I tried out for an audition for the New York Philharmonic in 1994, but I didn’t get anywhere. Then I got a call from the Philharmonic’s personnel manager. He called me after my audition and said well you didn’t advance but we have program for minorities to try out for positions, but I didn’t like that. I didn’t like the idea of getting preferential treatment. But I asked him would it be possible to come in and listen to the regular auditions, just sit in the back of the hall and observe the auditions. So I did and I heard them play and I said to myself “I can do this”. Maybe I’m not there yet, but if I work hard I might have a chance. So it was that experience that made me say if I keep working hard, who knows, maybe one day. [
Full Post]

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Marcus Thompson: Boston Chamber Music Society To Play William Grant Still in “Winter Festival”

[William Grant Still (1895-1978)]

Marcus Thompson came to our attention in December 2008 via a Myrtle Hart Society eNewsletter article: 'Marcus Thompson, viola and viola d'amore.' Today we present brief excerpts from a fascinating interview with him:

The Boston Musical Intelligencer
News & Features
September 28, 2009
Marcus Thompson Heads BCMS
by BMINT Staff

First, let me thank you for the opportunity to speak with you and to your readers. We are really excited about the possibilities that lie ahead for BCMS. Many artistic and organizational challenges have been on our minds since we undertook a self-study and started thinking about how we need to address our second quarter century. We are in a time of renewal. We want to build our audience in and around Boston, connect to the next generations, seek ways to fit better with local institutions – all while continuing to do some of the most exciting music making in Boston.”

With the support of a major grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and a match from the Boston Chamber Music Society Foundation, we are embarking on a three-week residency at MIT with a series of multi-media concerts at Kresge Auditorium next January that we are calling Winter Festival. These concerts were assembled around the subject of Time and are complemented by a series of free afternoon forums with scientists, artists, and scholars, discussing various aspects related to their work on Time and the music. In the course of the week, as part of this residency, during MIT’s Independent Activities Period, the rehearsals will be free and open to the public as well as the MIT community, and there will be opportunities to discuss the music with the BCMS performers.

The composers represented include Andrew Imbrie, Libby Larsen, George Crumb, Peter Child, Charles Martin Loeffler, William Grant Still and Lukas Foss. The practice of escorting the new with traditional will be reversed a bit with this American-made music escorting Ravel, Beethoven, Dvorak and Mozart.” [William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at]

Monday, September 28, 2009

“Saint-Georges International Festival of Guadeloupe” Planned For April 22-25, 2010

L'Association des Amis de Joseph Bologne [Association of the Friends of Joseph Bologne] is based in Guadeloupe, where Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, who is profiled at, was born. Its President is Jean-Claude HALLEY, with whom we have exchanged information for several years. Jean-Claude tells us:

The time has come to tell everyone what is going on in Guadeloupe, the country of Saint-Georges. With Maestro Marlon DANIEL, an International Committee is preparing an International Saint-Georges Festival, April 22-25, 2010. We hope to receive in Basse-Terre some of our great friends we can never thank enough for their work, devotion and admiration for Saint-Georges.

We are doing our best to make preparations for 4 nights of concerts in the Art'Chipel of Basse-Terre, and we think this would be a good time to organize what we are calling the "Saint-Georges Symposium." This means a meeting where everyone will come and speak about the Chevalier. Everything should be seriously organized, scientifically organized I should say, with the help of Les Archives Départementales (Departmental Archives) and the Historical Society of Guadeloupe. We will invite a number of our good friends.

During the festival we plan to have four half-day sessions on Saint-Georges. We hope to have one each devoted to Music, Fencing and History. The last half-day would be a public conference. We are also planning a visit to the birthplace of Saint-Georges. This is the point at which we find ourselves. We are working hard but we have been assisted by the enthusiasm of people from Basse-Terre and Baillif and more generally from Guadeloupe and France.

During the month of October 2009 everyone should receive a special invitation to come, attend and participate in this First Symposium on Joseph Bologne Saint-Georges. A special Lecture Committee will perform the function of soliciting communications on Saint-Georges and of selecting them. More very soon!"

Gabriel Banat Notes Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges Died at 53

[Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Violin Concertos, Op. 5, Nos. 1 & 2; Op. 3, No. 1; Op. 8, No. 9; Bernard Thomas Chamber Orchestra; Jean-Jacques Kantorow, Violin; Arion 68093 (1990)]

On Wednesday, September 23, 2009 AfriClassical posted “Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799) Was 54 When He Died.” Biographer Gabriel Banat is author of The Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Virtuoso of the Sword and the Bow. Hillsdale, New York: Pendragon Press, 2006. Gabriel has made a comment by email:

Hi Bill,
Thanks for your message. In fact, as Joseph was born on December 25th, 1745, in June of 1799 he was only 53 years old.

Best regards, Gabriel

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Soprano Diane Bolden-Taylor Sings at ASALH Convention in Cincinnati, Sept. 30 – Oct. 4, 2009

Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma of Lawrence University, Appleton, Wisconsin, informs AfriClassical of news received from Prof. Diane Bolden-Taylor, Professor of Music and Vocal Area Head at the University of Northern Colorado:
"I have been invited to sing at the annual Association for the Study of African-American Life and History (ASALH) convention coming up this week in Cincinnati. I will be presenting a lecture/recital. I am especially fond of the music by Montsalvatge, Robert Owens and Florence Price."

The ASALH has long been honored on the Black History & Classical Music page at, which opens with these words:
"February is Black History Month in Jamaica and the United States, and African Heritage Month in Canada. October is Black History Month in the United Kingdom. The annual observance was founded in 1926 by the American historian Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson (1875-1950). He also founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), The 2010 National Black History Theme is "The History of Black Economic Empowerment."

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Zorch`s Inner Sanctum `Ludovic Lamothe: Fleurs d'Haiti` Download 10 Piano Works Free

[`Fleurs d`Haiti, 10 Selections de Piano par Ludovic Lamothe Compositeur`; Disques Victor]

Ludovic Lamothe (1882-1953) was a Haitian composer and pianist who is profiled at A blogger owns an album of 5 Ludovic Lamothe records, with 10 piano pieces performed by the composer on 78rpm records. He has signed the Guest Book and has sent an email about the album. He says he plans to offer the album on eBay in the near future. At the moment, the 10 piano pieces are available for free download, via a link in the post below, which we appreciate:
Zorch's Inner Sanctum
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Ludovic Lamothe: Fleurs d'Haiti
This was originally part of the last post. After a bit of thought (not that much) I figured that this music was important enough to merit its own posting. Quite a few years ago I found this five-record album...

`It's Fleurs d'Haiti, an album of music composed and played by Haitian pianist Ludovic Lamothe (1882-1953). It seems to have been recorded in the late 1930s sometime. Unfortunately I can't find a lot of information about this set. If it's mentioned at all, it's as a footnote, sometimes with a "(78 rpm?)" postscript. This seems to be the best page available about Lamothe:`

Rankin Ledger: “Mississippi Sings! 2009 opens with 'Out of Africa' program”; Still Ellington & Joplin

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

Special to Rankin Ledger • September 26, 2009
Mississippi Sings! is a program designed for Mississippi's school children (grades 1-8). Held at Thalia Mara Hall in Jackson, it features the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, guest musicians, and the musical heritage of Mississippi.

Group registrations are required by October 15, or until seating is filled. Reserved tickets are $5, day of performance $7. For information or registration contact Dorothy Brasfield at, or call (601) 852-4510 for more information. Visit - click on Elementary, then Mississippi Sings! Reserved tickets are $5, day of performance $7.

"Out of Africa" will be held October 27 at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. The program will feature African American music which has influenced the culture and heritage of Mississippi. This year's guest artists include African drummer Adib Owens-Sabir, the nationally acclaimed Mahogany dancers from Utica, Miss Mississippi 2007 Kimberly Morgan, Alcorn University Men's chorus and the compositions of Scott Joplin, Duke Ellington, and Mississippian William Grant Still. Sing along selections are also included. [William Grant Still, Duke Ellington and Scott Joplin are profiled at]

Friday, September 25, 2009

AfriClassical Interviews Terrence Wilson on Naxos CD of 'Deus ex Machina' by Michael Daugherty

["Michael Daugherty Metropolis Symphony"; Terrence Wilson, pianist; Nashville Symphony; Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor; Naxos (2009)]

We interviewed Terrence Wilson on September 25, 2009.

Thank you for agreeing to an interview with AfriClassical.
I would imagine you're busy as you approach the release of your recording?

Oh yes, well I certainly am very excited about that!
This will be your first commercial CD, that's released on Tuesday, the 29th?
That's correct.
Starting with the world's largest recording label, you must be pleased?
I'm very happy, very excited and truly honored to have my debut with such company as the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and Naxos and conductor Giancarlo Guerrero playing music by one of the most performed American contemporary composers in the world right now, Michael Daugherty!
Yes, that's quite a reputation that he has!
I am just incredibly elated by this.
I believe you have previously performed this with Giancarlo Guerrero?
Well, that's right!
Was that the premiere?
It was the world premiere, yes, and on the subsequent four performances with four others. This project came about because I had asked Michael Daugherty to write a piano concerto for me and he was excited to do it, but somebody had to pay his fee! That meant that I had to go out and find some orchestras that would be willing to do that. I asked five orchestras to participate in a consortium of orchestras to co-commission the work together.
Who were they?
They were the Charlotte Symphony, they were the host institution. They were the ones that got the world premiere; the Nashville Symphony, of course, which is the orchestra with which the recording was made; and the New Jersey Symphony; the Syracuse Symphony in Syracuse, New York; and also the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.
So you have a balance of Southern and Northern orchestras represented?
What part of the country are you from, Terrence?
I'm a Yankee! I'm from the Bronx, New York.
Were you raised in the Bronx?
I was, yes.
Where did you get your Music education?
I went to Juilliard actually.
Did you always major in piano performance?
Oh yes, I did.
When did you graduate from Juilliard?
I graduated with a Bachelor's degree in 2001.
Are you a full-time musician?
I'm a full time musician.
Has that been true the entire time since you finished Juilliard?
I was professionally active during most of my Juilliard career as a student.
What type of work were you doing at that time, Terrence?
Mostly soloing with orchestras, as a soloist in concertos.
What are your preferences for chamber music, orchestral music and solo performance?
I'm blessed to have all three of them. They are three very challenging and rich experiences, three different parts of a career that I find challenging in different ways, and of course exciting.
Have your recitals always been solo recitals?
I've done recitals for piano and violin, for piano and cello.
You don't have recitals where there's someone else sitting at the same piano with you?
Oh, no I haven't done that!
How did you happen to make the acquaintance of this prominent composer, Michael Daugherty?
Well actually, we met thanks to Marin Alsop, because she invited me years ago to play another piece by Michael Daugherty called “Le Tombeau de Liberace” with her Cabrillo Festival in Santa Cruz, California. I played that piece with her and the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra and Michael Daugherty came to hear that performance, and that's where we got acquainted. And throughout the years...
How long ago was that, Terrence?
That must have been at least ten years ago.
How did your relationship develop with Michael Daugherty?
In the years after having met him the first time, he was the composer-in-residence with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Whenever I would go to Detroit as a guest soloist, I would see him there. We would go out to dinner and reminisce about how much fun we had in Santa Cruz, and one of those times we fantasized about working together in the future on another piece.
You didn't have any idea which piece it would be at that time, right?
No, we didn't. We just thought “Maybe someday Michael, you'll write another piano concerto.” He said “Yes, that would be nice.” So we just would talk about it, we talked about music and so on and so forth, and we talked about contemporary music. We got along really well. I think several years went by, and it seemed like the idea just went dormant. I guess both of us got so busy with our own projects and things that nothing came of what we had discussed. Until when I remembered when I was sitting at dinner one time with Gale Mahood and Richard Early of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. Gale Mahood is the former Artistic Administrator of the Charlotte Symphony who is now the Artistic Administrator of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. But at the time she was the Artistic Administrator of the Charlotte Symphony, and I had said after one of my performances with that orchestra that I was interested in premiering a work by Michael Daugherty and that I was looking for some orchestras to take up the project. And she said oh, well, we'd be delighted to participate in that! In fact, the orchestra was celebrating, I can't remember if it was the 75th or 80th anniversary.
Well, anyway, it was a momentous occasion?
It was an occasion that they wanted to celebrate by doing this. And so they said “Yes, we'd like to participate, in fact, can we guarantee that we will get the opportunity to play the world premiere?”
So we negotiated all of that and that's how it came about. And then I went shopping for some other orchestras that would be interested in participating and linked them up with Gale Mahood and soon thereafter the project had some legs and we were off and running.
About when was that, approximately, that you were on your way?
Probably the Spring of 2005 because I don't think Daugherty started writing it until 2006.
When was it completed?
It was completed and the world premiere performance was in 2007.
As planned, then, the world premiere was in Charlotte?
Yes, the world premiere was in Charlotte. And then the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and then the Syracuse Symphony, then the Rochester Philharmonic, and the New Jersey Symphony...
Was that in a fairly short period of time that they all gave their premieres?
The world premiere was in the Spring of 2007. The final performance was in the Fall of the same year.
Is there any comment you'd like to make about the concerto?
Well, it's just a tour de force, I'll say that! I think overall, its most striking feature is its rhythmic drive, its complexity, its rhythmic infectiousness.
It sounds as though a person would have to be in fine shape to be ready to perform it?
Well yes, it definitely does require quite some stamina mentally and physically, but definitely it's very satisfying to play. It's pretty massive forces involved in this piece, which I think is appropriate. It fits the name of the piece for one, I mean “Deus ex Machina” definitely would sound like a very impressive, powerful piece in terms of the force.
Do you enjoy trains?
I do enjoy trains. I do have a certain awe about trains and the history of trains, and then the power of the trains, and the evolution of the trains from the very earliest models, the steam locomotive, to the diesel train and we have bullet trains now!
It is quite a history to relate.
Quite a history, yes.
When did you become introduced to the “Metropolis Symphony”?
Well the “Metropolis Symphony,” which of course does not involve me, I was familiar with that piece early on.
Do you think we've covered what you wanted to?
Yes, I think we've covered it!
Thank you again for taking the time for us, and I look forward to getting my copy on the release date!
Thank you very much! It's been a pleasure talking to you, and thank you for the interview!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

William Chapman Nyaho, Pianist of Ghanaian Descent at Univ. of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Sept. 27

[“ASA: Piano Music by Composers of African Descent”; William Chapman Nyaho, piano;
MSR Classics MS1242 (2008)

Eau-Claire, Wisconsin
Updated: 9/24/2009
Main Events
PIANO RECITAL: University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire guest artist William Chapman Nyaho will present a piano recital at 7:30 p.m. Sunday in Gantner Hall of Haas Center, 121 Water St.A Seattle resident, Nyaho has performed throughout the world, including as a soloist with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra and the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra.

A graduate of Oxford University, he often conducts workshops advocating music by African composers. He compiled the five-volume anthology "Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora." He also released the ground-breaking solo album "SENKU: Piano Music by Composers of African Descent." In addition to Sunday's recital, Nyaho will conduct a master class at 10 a.m. Monday in Gantner Hall. The events are free. Call 836-5842 for information. [Dr. William Chapman Nyaho is profiled at and has a website of his own,]

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Comment on “Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799) Was 54 When He Died”

[Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Violin Concertos, Op. 5, Nos. 1 & 2; Op. 3, No. 1; Op. 8, No. 9; Bernard Thomas Chamber Orchestra; Jean-Jacques Kantorow, Violin; Arion 68093 (1990)]

Parisienne Postcards published a post entitled “Le Nègre des Lumières” on Sept. 22, 2009. It says, in parts, “The Chevalier de Saint-Georges was born Joseph de Bologne on the 25th of December 1745.” “In 1799, living alone in a small apartment in Paris he succumbed to an untreated bladder infection. He was taken in and cared for by an old friend, Nicolas Duhamel, until his death on the 10th of June 1799. He was 60 years old.”

We observed: “If in fact Saint-Georges was born in 1745, he was 54, not 60, when he died in 1799. The age of 60 is, however, consistent with the biography Le Nègre des Lumières (1999) by Alain Guédé, which states that Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges was born in 1739.

"Three major biographies have been published since 2004: The Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Virtuoso of the Sword and the Bow (2006) by Gabriel Banat; Le chevalier de Saint-George (2004) by Claude Ribbe in French; and Joseph de Saint-George, le Chevalier Noir (The Black Chevalier) (2006) by Pierre Bardin. The authors of these works examined historical documents related to Saint-Georges, and all found that the authentic date of birth of Saint-Georges is Christmas Day, 1745.”

The following comment has been made today, Sept. 23, 2009 by the author of Parisienne Postcards: “Bonjour, Thank you for visiting and thank you very much for correcting my math! If you do not mind, I would like to add the reference books that you listed? Kind regards, Loui" [Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges is profiled at]

Western Piedmont Symphony Concert of African American Composers 8 PM Nov. 7, Hickory, NC

[Le Mozart Noir: Music of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges; Tafelmusik Orchestra; Jeanne Lamon, conductor; CBC Records SMCD 5225 (2003)]

John Gordon Ross is Conductor & Music Director, Western Piedmont Symphony, and is on the faculty of Lenoir-Rhyne University. He has issued this release via the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago:
“The Western Piedmont Symphony will present a concert of African-American composers on Saturday, November 7
th at 8 p.m. in P.E. Monroe Auditorium on the campus of Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, NC. The concert features composer/pianist Anthony M. Kelley, member of the theory/composition faculty at Duke University, and recent UNC School of the Arts graduate Jarae Payton, soprano.

The concert will begin with the American premiere (perhaps the live performance premiere?) of Coleridge Taylor Perkinson’s Mop Mop based on the iconic drum solo of Max Roach. Arrangements with the estate of the late composer and his publisher Lauren Keiser Music Publishing and particularly the production assistance of Joe Derhake have helped to make this performance possible.

Following Mop, Mop, the orchestra will perform the Symphony in D Major by Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges also used as the overture to his opera L’amant anonyme in 1780. The Chevalier’s music has recently enjoyed increased popularity with the release of the television film Le Mozart Noir on CBC and Radio Canada. Our thanks for the assistance of Tafelmusik, the Toronto-based ensemble led by Jeanne Lamon for their making this music available.

Closing the first half of the program is Chicago/Cleveland based composer Delores White’s Give Birth to the Dream featuring the orchestral debut of young American soprano Jarae Payton. We anticipate Ms. White will be present for the performance and will attend the final rehearsals.

Following intermission, Anthony M. Kelley will appear as piano soloist in Africamerica: Sound Images for Piano and Orchestra. Dr. Kelley composed this work while serving as Meet The Composer’s New Residencies composer for the Richmond Symphony and other local partners. It was premiered by Donal Fox in 2000 with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra. It has also been performed previously by its composer including a performance last season with the Duke University Symphony Orchestra lead by Harry Davidson. Ticket information is available at by calling the Western Piedmont Symphony at 828-324-8603. [Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (1932-2004) and Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799) are profiled at]

Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799) Was 54 When He Died

[Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Violin Concertos, Op. 5, Nos. 1 & 2; Op. 3, No. 1; Op. 8, No. 9; Bernard Thomas Chamber Orchestra; Jean-Jacques Kantorow, Violin; Arion 68093 (1990)]

Parisienne Postcards published a post entitled Le Nègre des Lumières” on Sept. 22, 2009. It says, in pertinent parts, “I have read about the french revolution but I was not aware of the wonderful and remarkable story of le Chevalier de Saint-Georges until I attended the opera Le Nègre des Lumières in Paris.” “The Chevalier de Saint-Georges was born Joseph de Bologne on the 25th of December 1745.”

Ultimately, toward the end of his life, in 1797, he directed the Circle of Harmony, a concert organization established at the Palais-Royal. In 1799, living alone in a small apartment in Paris he succumbed to an untreated bladder infection. He was taken in and cared for by an old friend, Nicolas Duhamel, until his death on the 10th of June 1799. He was 60 years old.”

If in fact Saint-Georges was born in 1745, he was 54, not 60, when he died in 1799. The age of 60 is, however, consistent with the biography
Le Nègre des Lumières (1999) by Alain Guédé, which states that Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges was born in 1739.

Three major biographies have been published since 2004:
The Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Virtuoso of the Sword and the Bow (2006) by Gabriel Banat; Le chevalier de Saint-George (2004) by Claude Ribbe in French; and Joseph de Saint-George, le Chevalier Noir (The Black Chevalier) (2006) by Pierre Bardin. The authors of these works examined historical documents related to Saint-Georges, and all found that the authentic date of birth of Saint-Georges is Christmas Day, 1745. [Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges is profiled at]

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

José Mauricio Nunes Garcia, Afro-Brazilian Composer, Born September 22, 1767

[Padre José Mauricio Nunes Garcia: Te Deum and Requiem in D Minor, Music of the Court of Dom João VI; UFR Chorus and Symphony Orchestra (2008)]

José Mauricio Nunes Garcia (1767-1830) is profiled at and was an Afro-Brazilian composer and organist who was the grandson of slaves. Antonio Campos Monteiro Neto is Webmaster of an extensive illustrated Brazilian Website in English and Portuguese with numerous audio samples, José Mauricio Nunes Garcia: The Webmaster begins by noting that 240 works of music by José Mauricio Nunes Garcia have survived, and that early biographers estimate his total output at nearly twice that number.

Garcia wrote his earliest surviving work, “Tota pulchra Es Maria”, in 1783. Garcia joined the brotherhood of Saint Cecilia as a music teacher in 1784. He wrote “Litany for Our Lady in 4 voices and organ”, and by 1788 he was composing anthems and acapella works for church services. He gained fame in 1790 with his “Funeral Symphony”. Garcia was ordained as a priest in March, 1792. The chapel master died in 1797 and was succeeded by Garcia. The Royal Family took refuge in Brazil in March 1808, and clerics who accompanied them tried to remove Garcia from his position because of his race. Garcia was then told to concentrate on composition. His works that year included the “Missa Pastoril”, recorded in 1998 by Ensemble Turicum. Two masterpieces were the “Requiem Mass” and the “Officium for the Dead”.

A Royal wedding in 1817 included skilled musicians from Europe, giving Garcia the opportunity to compose “12 Divertimenti”. That was also the year in which Garcia composed the first Brazilian opera, “Le Due Gemelle” (“The Two Twins”), which was destroyed by fire in 1825. Monteiro Neto tells us that in December 1819 Garcia conducted the first Brazilian performance of Mozart's “Requiem” (K 626). His last work before he died on April 18, 1830 was the “St. Cecilia's Mass”.

South Africans Perform Music of Mokale Koapeng in 9 Cities of India, 22 Oct. - 13 Nov.

Mokale Koapeng of South Africa forwards a poster and concert schedule received from Berthine Van Schoor, South African cellist:
“After an unforgettable tour to India in Oct. 2007, the globally acclaimed musicians of South Africa are back. This time in a series of special 'South by South West” concerts, renowned cellist Berthine Van Schoor and pianist Albie Van Schalkwyk will weave their magic and make music like never before. The duo alongside Hanna van Niekerk will celebrate the 'Haydn and Mendelssohn Year 2009' by playing select compositions of these legendary 18th century composers.”

Concert Schedule
"Programme: Haydn, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Ram, Koapeng, Saint-Saens, Poulenc, and more.”
Thursday 22 October: Mumbai
Saturday 24 October: Poona
Monday 26 October: Goa
Thursday 29 October: Cochin
Sunday 1 November: Mysore
Wednesday 4 November: Bangalore
Thursday 5 November and Friday 6 November: Chennai -
Monday 9 and Thursday 12 November: Kolkata
Friday 13 November: Delhi

Bereniece Jones is Artistic Director of Cascadia Concert Opera in Eugene, Oregon

[Cast: Top (left to right): Kevin Helppie, Don Kelley, Phillip Engdahl, Nicholas Larson
Second row (left to right): Derek Larson, Marieke Schuurs, Sandy Naishtat, Jan Kirkpatrick, Lauren Servias (accompanist), Webb Parker
Bottom row: Bereniece Jones, Nicole Knight, Catherine Olson]

Bereniece Jones signed the Guest Book at on Tuesday, September 22, 2009: “Thank you so much for your hard work and contribution to the scholarship of classical music! I and my students will be taking advantage of what you have offered here! From: Oregon Web Site: Cascadia Concert Opera.”

The company's website elaborates on its mission: “Cascadia Concert Opera is the creative impulse of Bereniece Jones, Marieke Schuurs and Jan Kirkpatrick.” “Cascadia Concert Opera is a non-profit, co-operative, summer season, concert opera company based in Eugene, Oregon. We are a professional ensemble made up of local opera singers who present entire operas in a more intimate, concert form and in English. CCO is committed to sharing opera as an art form in various venues throughout the Oregon/Washington Cascades area, to bring opera to new audiences and do our part to help keep opera's presence in our Pacific Northwest arts culture.”

Bereniece Jones, Artistic Director
“Currently, Bereniece is an intern for Eugene Opera and she is pursuing her Doctorate of Musical Arts degree with a supporting area of Arts Administration at the U of O where she is a Graduate Teaching Fellow.” Bereniece Jones co-founded Genesis Opera of Chicago in 2000. “Bereniece collaborated with the International Music Foundation to present opera and art song to the students of Chicago Public Schools.
Bereniece also established the Chicago Opera Singers' Acting Project.”

Maestro John McLaughlin Williams: 4 Roles on Dorian CD 'Quincy Porter: Complete Viola Works'

[John McLaughlin Williams]

AfriClassical learned of Eliesha Nelson's CD “Quincy Porter: Complete Viola Works” from the African American conductor John McLaughlin Williams, who won a Grammy in 2007 and was nominated for a Grammy in 2009 as well. We interviewed John on Sept. 19, 2009:
Can I start with where you were born?
I was actually born in Greensboro, North Carolina. That's a town where my grandparents lived, my Mom's parents. My grandfather was Dean of A & T, the university there, for some years.
Would that be Agricultural and Technical?
Exactly, yes. It's a famous school there actually.
Was that the same community in which you were raised then?
No, well I spent every Summer down there. My brothers and I always spent a good part of the Summers with our grandparents down there. So Greensboro actually turned out to be a second home. I went one entire year of high school in Greensboro, my last year. So that's why I graduated from Grimsley High, in Greensboro. All my other precollege education had taken place in Washington, D.C., which is where my parents lived. And that's where I began to study the violin.
Somehow you began poring over Baker's Biographical Dictionary at an unusually early age?
My parents both played piano. They had lots of music in their own library, and I began to peruse all these books they had, Baker's being among them. It was a fascinating tome for me.
I have also read that you got some ideas from that as to what some of the nuggets of valuable, overlooked music could be?
Well, absolutely. You read an article about someone, I think in the edition of Baker's I had it said Nikolai Myaskovsky, “eminent Russian composer.” Someone that warrants four pages in Baker's and is called “eminent” and has a works list that's a mile long, that says that there's something valuable here and it's worth investigating. You had to ask yourself why you weren't hearing that in the concert halls? Well that's a question I asked myself probably hundreds of times as I read Baker's through and through. It certainly did come in handy, and certainly will later, when the time came for me to propose some projects for Naxos and its American Classics Series. I really had no problem reaching back and throwing out a whole cadre of names of people to consider for a recording.
What instruments had you studied, John?
Well, I formally studied violin, though I played other things, and in high school I actually played trumpet and trombone, and I actually played quite a bit of French horn. But it's the piano that I really persistently pursued, though I never studied piano in the formal sense, I never had any piano lessons. I literally taught myself by studying Scarlatti sonatas! I used it as an antidote almost for the violin.
Has violin been your primary instrument then?
Yes, violin is my primary instrument. I always had lessons on the violin. My formal study and my major in college up until the Cleveland Institute was always Violin Performance.
Where did you go to college before the Cleveland Institute of Music?
Boston University and the New England Conservatory.
What emphasis did you have in your studies at those two schools?
Violin Performance, exclusively. It wasn't until much later that I decided to shift gears, when I went through the Cleveland Institute of Music and began to study conducting and composition.
So you went to the Cleveland Institute specifically to do graduate work in conducting?
Is there any specific thing that had inspired you to get into the work of conducting?
Well, yes. I finally realized that if I was going to do any interesting programs, to play something that I really wanted to, that I'd have to be in a position to call the tune. The interesting thing is, now when I look back, my early training, the breadth of it, and taking in piano literature and all the literatures about composers and dictionaries, and training myself in piano, reading the scores and everything, I realize that in actuality, all these years I have been training myself to be a conductor! A time came when I realized I had gone as far as I could just being a violinist and it was time to really make a change.
I have to ask you about the graduate work; I understand that you did a project there on William Grant Still?
I didn't do a project there, but they did do every year a “Black Heritage Concert.” So when I came there they allowed me to program and conduct these concerts with the school symphony orchestra, which was a great experience in addition to all the other conducting experience I was getting at the school anyway, so they would put together these programs with specialized repertoire, and I did do quite a bit of Still. Things that hadn't had an airing in quite a while like the “Archaic Ritual” or his hybrid cantata/oratorio “And They Lynched Him On A Tree.” I did it each year for the three years I was there.
Did you feel that the music of Still and other Black composers was a significant part of the overlooked music?
Oh absolutely! I've been playing Still's music on the violin since I was a student the first time. So his neglect was not new to me and I'd always intended to do as much as I could to promote his larger works. Because you see Still was yet to hear any of his operas, so his true status as an American composer can't be reckoned until we hear the works that he thought the most of himself. Really, he was very seriously into composing operas. I think that's where he put his best efforts.
Would you regard “Troubled Island” then to be a significant achievement?
Oh, absolutely, there's no doubt about it! Aside from the historical novelty of it being the first opera by a Black composer to be done by a major opera company, the fact is, the music's terrific! It offers tremendous performance opportunities for the chorus, it will make a delightful staging, it's a really good story, and you can glean all these things from the faded historical recording that you can get from William Grant Still Music.
How many recordings have you made?
Oh gee...
You had one come out last month, I understand?
Well, I suppose, it either came out last month...
August 25 is what it says on Amazon, “Dancing on the Brink of the World”?
I wasn't sure about that because Cambria is also recently distributed by Naxos, so I wasn't sure if that was the official release or not. Including the “Quincy Porter” that's coming out in a week or so, there are eleven out all together.
It sounds like someone who should be a conductor!
(Laughs) That's what I keep telling myself!
Can I ask how you became interested in “The Quincy Porter Project”?
Well of course, working with Eliesha is a thing I've always wanted to do! But the producers are Marina and Victor Ledin. They are several-time Grammy nominees who have been in the business many years. They've produced Grammy-winning recordings for other people. I think the “Viola Concerto” particularly is probably the greatest concerto written for the viola. It's really something!
Well, you mentioned the leg work being done by Eliesha – apparently that included standing in Lake Erie?
(Laughs) You never know how things are going to work out. But it turned out beautifully!
I see that you did a harpsichord track on this CD?
Yes, I filled several roles on that CD. Of course I'm conducting the orchestra for the “Viola Concerto,” but I also am playing piano, harpsichord and violin on the other works.
That's almost something of a record!
You know it might be! I know there have been others who might conduct the orchestra and play violin or play piano, but I'm not sure if anyone has ever done piano, violin and harpsichord on a single CD? I don't think so. I'm going to call Guinness!
Is there anything you'd like to say about the works, either the earlier or the later ones?
First of all, he has a very recognizable voice, but it can be a subtle one sometimes. As I said before, his writing is highly considered and very judicious.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
It's amazing how many African American musicians are involved in classical music these days, but a lot of folks wouldn't hear about it if it weren't for AfriClassical!
Thank you, I very much appreciate your support!