Sunday, January 31, 2010 'Roy Eaton performs on February 7, 2010 at 2:30 p.m.'

[Roy Eaton performs a program of Chopin and Joplin on February 7, 2010 at 2:30 p.m.]

Pianist Roy F. Eaton tells AfriClassical of a piano recital he will give at the Church of the Good Shepherd on Roosevelt Island in New York City:
"Roy Eaton first performed in Carnegie Hall on Thursday, June 17,1937 as a Gold Medalist in a competition sponsored by the Music Education League of New York. Winner of the first Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Award in June 1950, he made his American debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performing Chopin's F minor Concerto under George Schick in 1951. He was re-engaged to perform Beethoven's 4th concerto, and also made his New York Town Hall debut in 1952. His career was "temporarily" interrupted by two years in the U.S.Army, then approximately thirty years in advertising at Young & Rubicam, Benton & Bowles, and Roy Eaton Music. Roy Eaton’s life story is one of spiritual and creative triumph - overcoming significant difficulties and adversity. One of his missions has been to restore Scott Joplin's works to the domain that it was Joplin's intention that they live--as classical works in the tradition of the great European masters. He is on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music and performs in concert throughout the world. December 9,2002 marked his return to Carnegie Hall as soloist with the N. Y. Pops Orchestra led by Skitch Henderson.

"His current featured recordings are Joplin: Piano Rags, Sony; The Complete Preludes Of Chopin, Gershwin, Still, Summit Records, Keyboard Classics For Children, Summit Records, and The Meditative Chopin, Rhahm Records. Olivier Dahan, the Academy Award winning director of 'La Vie en Rose' has selected three preludes from the 24/7+7 album as background music for his upcoming film "My Own Love Son" starring Renee Zelwegger and Forest Whitaker. His CDs are available on line at (Mr. Eaton has been featured in a New York Times article on Friday, January 22, 2010. 'In Sugar Hill, a Community That Nurtured Black Talent When the World Wouldn’t' by David Gonzalez.)"

Inquiry on Sheet Music for Piano Works of African Composers

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

A visitor to thanked us for the attractive website and asked how to obtain piano repertoire of the Nigerian composer Akin Euba and other African composers in sheet music form. This is a question which is likely to be of interest to others as well, so our reply is reprinted here:

Many thanks for your compliment about and your inquiry about piano repertoire by African composers. I am happy to recommend a unique resource compiled and edited by Dr. William Chapman Nyaho, a pianist born in the U.S. but raised in Ghana, the home county of his parents. He is profiled at and at

Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora

For the contents of each volume, you may consult this page:

As you will see, piano works of Akin Euba are found in Volumes 2 and 3, along with works by many other composers of Africa and the African Diaspora. Oxford University Press offers the series in 5 separate volumes or a single volume.

The Akin Euba page at features a Works List by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma of Lawrence University Conservatory in Wisconsin. Dr. Fred Onovwerosuoke is an American composer who was born in Nigeria. He heads African Musical Arts, Inc.,, an organization whose activities include publishing both sheet music and recordings.

His works for piano include Twenty-Four Studies in African Rhythms. Six of he Studies open the program of Dr. Nyaho's latest CD, ASA: Piano Music by Composers of African Descent; MSR Classics MS 1242 (2008). Bob Briggs of MusicWeb International has written:

"This is strong music with a very individual voice. Each piece imitates a dance or musical pattern and they make a very attractive suite, with lots of variety and plenty of fun. These six come from a set of 24 and I yearn to hear the others. This taster is really too good to miss..."

William Chapman Nyaho's earlier recording is Senku: Piano Music by Composers of African Descent; MSR Classics MS 1091. I hope this information will assist you in finding the sheet music you are seeking.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Morning Chamber Music in Ottawa Feb. 2 Features Mozart, Haydn & William Grant Still

[William Grant Still; Photo is the property of William Grant Still Music, and is used with permission.]

February is Black History Month in Canada, as well as in Jamaica and the United States, as made clear by this Website, Music of William Grant Still will be heard in Ottawa on Feb. 2, 2010.

Ottawa Citizen
Classical Ottawa
by Steve Mazey
Mozart in the Morning: Joanna G'froerer and friends in concert Feb. 2
Jan 27 2010
“Who says that concerts always have to take place at night?
Not Ottawa cellist Julian Armour.” “The morning concerts start Feb. 2, with a performance at Dominion-Chalmers Church involving Armour and other high-profile Ottawa musicians, including NACO principal flute Joanna G'froerer. The concert will include pieces by Mozart, Haydn and William Grant Still. If it's as wonderfully performed as Armour's Christmas concert was, audiences are in for some memorable music-making.

“The Feb. 2 concert will include Mozart's Quartet for Flute and Strings in A major, an
arrangement of Haydn's
Symphony No. 94 and William Grant Still's Folk Suite No. 1. In
addition to Armour and G'froerer, musicians will include harpsichordist Thomas Annand,
violinists Manuela Milani and Andréa Armijo Fortin and violist Guylaine Lemaire. It starts
at 10:30 the church, O'Connor Street at Cooper. Coffee will be served starting
at 9:45 a.m.” “
For full details on the concert lineup, go to
[William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at
, where a complete Works List by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma
is found.]

Philadelphia Sunday Sun: 'Pianist and alumnus Leon Bates to Lead Workshop at Settlement Music School, Sunday, Feb. 21'

[Leon Bates; photo from The Philadelphia Sunday Sun]

The Philadelphia Sunday Sun
Inside Philly
Jan 29, 2010
Posted by: donnell
“The Knowlton Leadership Program of Settlement Music School, designed to enrich the learning experience for all Settlement students and anyone else considering a career in music, is offering a free workshop on Sunday, February 21, 2 PM at Field Hall, Mary Louise Curtis Branch, 416 Queen Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147.” “The workshop, 'Practice Smart…Not Just Hard,' will feature Settlement 100 honoree and recording artist Leon Bates who will demonstrate time-tested techniques for learning difficult passages and new pieces more quickly. Students will also learn how to develop the right attitude for long term success and learn how to better organize practice time, an ongoing issue for both students and their parents.

From the New York Philharmonic to the Vienna Symphony to South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic to the Today Show, Leon Bates has traveled the world. His repertoire stretches from the Bach and Brahms to Gershwin and Ellington. But Bates is more than just a world-class pianist; he has made education – sharing his gift – a priority, performing up to 50 residencies per year, making it a point to try to expose all children but especially African American children to classical music. 'Beethoven should be just as much a part of the African-American experience as anything else,' he told Ebony Magazine in an interview.

Perhaps his generous spirit can be traced back to his own early studies. At age 12 Bates began lessons at Settlement under the late Irene Beck and has come back to Settlement numerous times to perform and hold masterclasses. Among his many awards is the National Endowment for the Arts Solo Recitalists Fellowship Grant and an honorary doctorate from Washington and Lee University. But perhaps Bates’ most unique distinction is that he’s also a disciplined body builder, which he feels enhances his playing. 'The last piece on the program is the one that is the most demanding and dynamic,' he told Ebony. 'You don’t want to run out of energy as you are coming to the piece that demands the most from you.'”

For more information, or to RSVP to this workshop, please contact the Knowlton Leadership Coordinator Kyle Bartlett at (215) 320-2693 or Settlement Music School is the largest community-based school of the arts in the United States, serving 15,000 students each year at six branches in PA and NJ. It provides people of all abilities, age, race and financial means with programs of the highest quality in music and dance to help them achieve their greatest potential and award nearly $2 million a year in financial aid. Close to 300,000 students have attended Settlement Music School since 1908. It is the largest employer of musicians in the region, with more than 250 dedicated faculty members, most of whom have advanced degrees.

Jean Montès Conducts Illinois Honors Orchestra in Ludovic Lamothe's 'Danse Capoise' Today

[TOP: Prof. Jean Montès, Loyola University, New Orleans; BOTTOM: Fleurs d`Haiti, 10 Selections de Piano par Ludovic Lamothe Compositeur; Disques Victor]

The Haitian composer Julio Racine has explained to us that Dr. Jean Montès is responsible for more performances of his compositions, and his arrangements of Haitian folk music, than anyone else. We had known of Dr. Montès previously, but our interviews with Julio Racine have deepened our understanding of his influential role in Music Education. Julio has also stressed the importance of the work done in Haiti by John Jost, Professor of Music at Bradley University. Prof. Jost has orchestrated “Danse Capoise,” which Ludovic Lamothe composed for piano.

Voxitatis Blog
Honor concert preview: looking at Haiti with majesty, joy, and love
By Paul Katula · January 29, 2010
“PEORIA (Jan. 29, 2010) — The levels of excitement and anticipation are high here at the Illinois Music Educators Association All-State Conference.” “Our coverage is centered here. Among the works to be performed by the All-State Honors Orchestra at a 3 p.m. concert Saturday is the Danse Capoise by Ludovic Lamothe, orchestrated by John Jost. One of Haiti’s greatest composers, a student at the Paris Conservatory and the Institution de Saint Louis Gonzague in Port-au-Prince, Lamothe composed only for the piano. In this transcription of one of his works, the stroking of each note will have a unique effect for each person in the audience.

When the pianist-composer returned from Paris to his homeland in 1911, he supported himself mostly by giving piano lessons and Sunday afternoon recitals in the homes of middle- and upper-class Haitians. These performances earned him the nickname 'The Black Chopin,' since his recitals often included works of the 19th-century piano master. Honors orchestra conductor, Jean Montès, has significant ties to Haiti as well, having spent his summers as assistant director at the Holy Trinity Music Camp there.

The piano music of the Haitian masters takes listeners on a journey—a journey purely of the soul—to discover just a few of the country’s hidden treasures: the sounds of the wind, the trees, the ocean. The glimpse Montès will bring us is brief, indeed, but our nature pauses to listen and take in these rarest of jewels. The soul can do wonders in just a few moments. For this brief moment, then, we close our eyes and let the music evoke a vision of Haiti as it was for Lamothe: majestic, joyful, and full of love. [Ludovic Lamothe is profiled at]
An accomplished conductor, educator, clinician, lecturer, and performer, Dr. Jean Montès is passionate about challenging and stimulating audiences and musicians alike. He is the Director of Orchestral Studies and Coordinator of Strings at Loyola University in New Orleans, Louisiana where he conducts orchestral ensembles and teaches conducting and string pedagogy courses for music education majors. In addition to his responsibilities at Loyola University, Montès is the Artistic Director of The Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestras (GNOYO) where he conducts the Symphony Orchestra which he lead in their Carnegie Hall debut.”
“John Jost, Professor of Music, has been Director of Choral Activities at Bradley since 1989. He also serves as director of the Ecole Sainte Trinité summer music program for Haitian youth in Léogâne, Haiti.”

Friday, January 29, 2010

“Washington Savoyards brings Scott Joplin’s 1910 opera 'Treemonisha' back to Washington”

[Piano Rags; Roy Eaton, piano; Sony SBK 833 (1995)]
Scott Joplin's TREEMONISHA
Feb 19-21, 26-28; Mar 5-7

Atlas Performing Arts Center
1333 H Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002
“The Washington Savoyards brings Scott Joplin’s 1910 opera
Treemonisha back to Washington for the first time since it was performed during the Kennedy Center’s celebration of the Bicentennial in 1976. This rarely performed opera—which was never performed during Joplin’s lifetime—is a superb piece of American operatic literature which draws on African American traditions for both its story and its music, but is also deeply influenced by classical opera. Joplin posthumously received the Pulitzer Prize 1976 for his contributions to American music .

The story : The Washington Savoyards production sets this opera in a Louisiana bayou. Treemonisha is an educated young African American woman who denounces the superstitions of her community. In retaliation, local conjurers kidnap her and take her into a swamp teeming with animals. Remus, her beau, rescues her at the last moment and they return home. A champion now of the community, Treemonisha triumphantly espouses education as the key to African American success.

Why Treemonisha and the Washington Savoyards: Since moving to the Atlas Performing Arts Center in 2006, the Washington Savoyards has broadened its repertory to include musical theatre and light opera as well as its traditional repertory of Gilbert and Sullivan.” “Treemonisha will share in this mission and will have a diverse cast. Treemonisha is a too little-known treasure of the rich American cultural tradition—created by one of the great masters of the American cultural tradition. Treemonisha will be attractive to audiences: it is by Scott Joplin, it tells an African American and an American story, it lauds education, the music is elegantly stirring, and there are roles for every age group that will delight every age group—the swamp animals and alligators will be great fun for children of all ages.

Artistic Director N. Thomas Pedersen was involved with initial productions of Treemonisha in the early 1970s and has long wanted to bring it to the stage again. The Intersections Festival provides the ideal setting for this to happen. The opera presents excellent opportunities for partnerships with not only our colleagues among the Atlas Arts Partners but also for reaching more deeply into the Washington area’s diverse artistic communities. For the Washington Savoyards, it is the perfect vehicle to demonstrate the Company’s deep commitment to casting that is ethnically and generationally diverse and to the belief that education and knowledge are keys to superb productions and to life.” [Scott Joplin (1868-1917) was a Ragtime and Classical composer and pianist of African descent who is profiled at]

Composer Regina Baiocchi and the Late Hale Smith, Part 5

(Part 4 ended with a comment by Regina Harris Baiocchi that for her Music Thesis she had written a paper entitled "Black Curtains Up," for which she interviewed every living composer of an opera she could find.)
(Since the date of the interview, Raoul Abdul of The New York Amsterdam News has died, on Jan. 15, 2010. AfriClassical has published Regina Harris Baiocchi's tribute to him, "In Memoriam: Raoul Abdul (1929-2010)" The CUBE concert on WFMT, which is also discussed in the interview, has taken place on Jan. 18, 2010.)

T.J. Anderson said to me, "You know, if I had it to do over again, I would not write an atonal opera." "But," he said," you know you live and learn." T.J. is another person. He is such a giving man, and I'm sure you've seen the Tribute he wrote to Hale!"
I certainly did! I linked to it from my blog.

Oh yes, I did see that link! He's another one! He's the last of that era of composers. There's the younger group of the Dorothy Rudd Moores and the Alvin Singletons...

Probably 10 years his junior, and of course...
You know Alvin is in his 70s.
You are right. I think Kermit and Hale were the same age; Kermit Moore, Dorothy Rudd Moore's husband. I believe they have 10 or 15 years on Dorothy, so I think she is 70 as well.
I wonder if you would like to address the later stages of Hale's life and any contact you had during the later years?
Luckily for me, and I suspect these were mutual feelings, we spoke quite often. I would venture o say if not every day at least every other day.
Is that right?

Oh, yes.
You were soul mates!
Absolutely! I had an 800 number installed in my house, because we would get on the phone and talk for hours and our phone bills were absolutely outrageous!
I imagine so!

He said to me one day, "You know, I better hang up this phone...we've been talking for five hours!" And I had a niece who was away at school, and she wanted to call home a lot, and so I had two very good reasons, my niece and Hale, and I installed this 800 number so he could call me on the 800 number, for nothing really. And then of course I got the situation I have now, where I have unlimited national calling. It was not uncommon for him to call me - I remember a few times he called me - at one, two o'clock in the morning. The phone would ring, I'm a night owl, but there are times when I do need to sleep!
Right! He called and said "Are you awake?" I said "Hale, it's two o'clock, what do you think I'm doing?" And he said, "I was just reading something." He would just go into whatever it was that he was reading, he was so passionate about it. My husband is a very light sleeper, and he would say "What's going on? Is everything okay? Did somebody die?" I would say, "Oh no, Hale wants to talk to me about some music." He would say "At two o'clock in the morning!" He was very interested in the Hubble Telescope. He was very interested in current events. He was a very, very well-rounded, well-educated man!
Were you still able to keep up these frequent conversations even during the final months, when he was in the hospice care?

No, we weren't. As a matter of fact, the last six months or so, we didn't have any phone contact at all.
That must have been a loss?

It was a great loss! It happened, I would say, starting a couple years ago. His vocabulary kept decreasing.

I don't think he ever lost any cognition. I think he was totally aware of what was going on. But because he couldnot express himself verbally, it was hard! I remember when he had the first stroke, I got a letter from him with a tape in it, and I noticed that his handwriting was different.

He called me and he said, "Did you get my tape?" And I said "Yes, I did get it and it looks different." He said "I had a hard time dubbing that tape!" I said "Really?" and he said "Yes." Then out of the clear blue he said "You know, if I ever got sick, I would hope that I didn't just hang on. I would never want to b e in a vegetative state, I would rather die." I thought about it and I said "Yes, I agree with you." Within a week or so I got this call saying he had had a stroke, a heart attack, and it was right around the time that Juanita, his wife, was recovering from breast cancer. She had lost her Mom, who was well into her 90s. It seemed like there were a lot of things going on in their lives by that time. I distinctly remember the conversation we had and I'm sure he felt some physical breakdown then. It was just very sad!
It had to be!

Yes, and I really miss talking to him. Every now and again, I'll have a thought and say "Oh I'll run that by Hale," or "I'll see what Hale's doing with that." Juanita and I have become very close over the past several years, and I speak to her at least once or twice a week.
That's good!

It is good, and she gave me very high praise the other day, she said she considers me a member of their family. I certainly consider both of them as cultural parents.
There is certainly a lot of mutual recognition there!

Yes, I remember when Hale and Juanita met my parents, I had other siblings here because we went for dinner in Chicago, and they got the same feeling. They feel as though Hale and Juanita were at least godparents to them.

It was a very interesting and very moving dynamic!
It sounds like it!

You know I love to cook, and I had made this lavish meal, and we have a dining room table that seats six, and then I had like a card-table setup that seats four. Our parents were there at the table and I said to Hale and Juanita and to my parents, "You know it's time for you to move so that the second shift can eat. Because I have seven siblings and my husband has seven siblings, a huge family!" I said to them, "You know it's time for the next group to eat." They said "Oh we're the elders; they can go over and eat at the card table." Anyway, they wouldn't move! So they sat there and Hale and my father both loved to talk, and they could talk, because they were both very informed, very learned, well-read men!
That was what Dominique said in his interview about his career, that if Hale happened to speak at length it was worth while.

Absolutely, because he made it his business to know what he was talking about! If he had a thought, he followed that thread until he had other opinions, other facts to either support his scholarship or inspire him to take that scholarship up in another direction. He was very passionate about his feelings, about his thoughts, about his work and all of his work as an artist was informed by that passion. If I do have one regret in life beside the fact he's not here anymore, it would be that I didn't meet him sooner in my life! I wish I had known him for longer.
That's understandable.

I really do! And I'm sorry that every musician did not get the chance to meet him, because I think the world really cheated itself by not really giving him the recognition and the exposure he deserved. That certainly speaks highly for your appreciation!
And you know I don't just mean because he was my teacher. Whenever people hear his music, they love it! I think if Hale had not been a Black composer, he probably would have been the leading composer in the world. I really do believe that!
I see!

You know also, I think everything happens in due time.

He certainly has paved the way for a composer in the 21st century to take his or her rightful place, and to be prepared to take that place. I think that would be very important to him...
To go into Third Stream, or Contemporary or Jazz Fusion or whatever that person was driven to do?
Yes, I think so, but I think he would want to make sure that they were ready, that they were prepared, and that they could take up the charge! Because I think a lot of people have certain opportunities, but there is a lot of junk out there too!
The fundamentals are not always heeded.

People are too quick to do things - I think I see what you mean.

Yes, and I was listening to some music today, and I heard so many filters, where the music had been filtered to take out imperfections. That was certainly something Hale did not care for at all! He felt that music should be successful or unsuccessful on its own feet. So he did not believe in all of the electronic props that people use.
So electronic editing would not have appealed to him?
Absolutely not! He spoke quite eloquently on the topic. There are so many ways around it. the first thing to do is to hire certain musicians. The music I heard today was a popular tune. An actress recorded the music with a singer. You know, those kinds of stunts!

I'm not against seeing actors do things. I heard Aretha Franklin once on a talk show. She had a recipe with the host. And she said "This food is really delicious! Have you ever thought about writing a cook book?" And she said, "Oh, I have written cook books. I have written recipes, I have developed recipes. Why should I have a cook book out there when there is some kid who has gone to chef school, this is his passion, his life. Imagine his book next to a book of mine, by Aretha Franklin. People are going to reach for my book because they know my name! That would be unfair, to me. I am making it as a singer, I am making it as a musician. I want to give this chef a chance to make it in the world! I don't need it...
That is fascinating!

Yes, it is! I got a chance to work with her when I was the Coordinator of Operation PUSH. She was the ultimate musician, extremely prepared, the rehearsals were like clockwork! She came in, she knew exactly what she wanted, how she wanted it done.
Was she with the Supremes?
No, Aretha Franklin was basically a solo artist on Arista. The Supremes were a trio on Motown.

But they are contemporary. Aretha also played piano and organ. Her father C.L. Franklin was a minister in Detroit, so they all came out of the same city. Interestingly enough, she was not a Motown product. She was on the Arista label and I believe Capitol label. I always remember her talking about not standing in the way of another young artist. I think Hale did that in a positive way. He always made sure that he cultivated whatever it was that an artist needed to be cultivated! In other words, it was important for me to be adaptable and to make sure that I knew the literature, that I knew the language to write it. To be able to go to one person and study Jazz, Blues, Gospel, Classical...
It's almost unheard of!

Oh yes! Poetry - the work that he did with Langston Hughes - Hale Smith was the only composer I knew who had carte blanche to any Langston Hughes poetry!
Is that right?

Absolutely! He gave him that right in writing! They met each other when Hale was a student at Cleveland, and Langston came through there to do a reading, and Hale actually got his autograph on manuscript paper! Years later, Hale was in the post office in New York and Langston recognized him. He said "Hey, weren't you from Cleveland?

You know, he had made that impression on him! Hale said "Yes, I am! This is my first week in New York." And he told the story of how he had not moved his family there yet, he was in New York by himself, going there to pave the way for the family to come later. Langston said, "Listen, if you're not doing anything, I want you to join me for dinner." Langston invited him to his home, and that began a very long friendship! He began setting his music, and he became acquainted with Raoul Abdul - I don't know if you know him? Raoul Abdul writes for The Amsterdam News.
I've heard the name, but I've not really been in touch.
Raoul Abdul also wrote several books on Black artistry. He was Langston Hughes' personal assistant. I just spoke to Raoul a couple of days ago. We were talking about Hale and how much we miss him and he said, "You know, I think if we can do anything, in your case the best tribute you could give to Hale is to continue to write good music the way you know he would have wanted you to." That's certainly a charge that I will take up, and Raoul has done the same thing. He's the one primarily responsible for the New York Times obit that ran. He worked very closely with the editors to make sure that it was accurate and that it was timely. He has a column that he writes for The Amsterdam News. He's also a singer and he used to have these regular salons where he presents new singers in New York.


Yes, he's very active as a musician. Being Langston Hughes' personal assistant was - he's got a lot of stories!
He must have! Is there anything you want to say about the planned Memorial Concert?

The Memorial Concert I know is tentatively scheduled in May, 2010. It will definitely be in Manhattan. The last time I spoke to Juanita she had several venues she was looking at. To my knowledge nothing has been solidified yet but she is looking for something in May of 2010. As soon as she gets that date, I'll make sure that you get it. I will speak to her before the week is over.
I don't want to rush her, but when it's available I'd like to know.

Okay. The Memorial will be a tribute to Hale through his music so it's going to be a concert of all of his music.

I want to say something about the January 18th radio concert...
Oh yes!
On WFMT, that will be Monday, January 18, 2010, 8 PM Central Time, WFMT 98.7 FM in Chicago. And of course you can stream online. It's a show called "Live From Studio One." CUBE Ensemble is commissioning works by myself and Valerie Capers, the other living composer on the program. They will have music by Hale Smith and music by Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson,who is also a Hale Smith contemporary.

I have two pieces that are on that program. One is called "Liszten" and it's a solo piano piece that was inspired by Franz Liszt and also a book that I read. I have a double major in Psychology and Music and so I'm very interested in things related to Psychology. There is a guy named Oliver Sacks who wrote a book called "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat."
Yes, I've read that and I also have his most recent book, "Musicophilia."
I was very taken by "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat," so I wrote the piece called "Liszten: My Husband Is Not A Hat!"
So that's inspired by that title?

Absolutely! It's inspired by that title and the readings. Franz Liszt is probably my favorite composer of the Romantic era.

Oh, absolutely! I love his music, I love teaching it, and if I could be a pianist I would love to be a Liszt aficionado and play his music.
Is that right?

Absolutely! The other piece CUBE commissioned, and it'll be a world premiere, is a piece called "Triptych." It's a piece that I dedicate to Hale and Juanita Smith. The first movement is called "Ancestral Passage," the center movement is called "Floating Feathers" and the last movement is called "Poco a Poco," which in Italian means "Little by Little." It's a three-movement piece for B-flat clarinet, percussion and cello. Hale Smith had a story he used to tell about how he had a beautiful white feather, because the teacher asked each one of the kids to bring a feather to school. They put all the feathers in a box and then they had some spelling bee or some assignment. The teacher let each student choose the feather that he or she wanted, in order of how they scored. So the person who got 100% took his beautiful white feather! His feather was like this beautiful, fancy thing you could see on the end of a quill.

He ended up with a small feather, maybe an inch in size.
What a comedown!

Oh yes, and for her not to tell them what she was going to do with the feather! So you'll see that feather theme in his music. He wrote a piece called "Feather for Jazz." After he told me the story, I went and found a beautiful feather and I put it in a wooden box similar to the one that he described to me, and mailed it to him.
Oh, wow!

Of course he was very moved by that! It's amazing how that story affected him for the rest of his life!
It obviously had power!

Very much so! Is there anything else you would like for me to address?
I don't think so, Regina. I think that we've done a good survey.

Well I really appreciate your interest in Hale Smith and interest in myself and my music.
Certainly! Dominique-René de Lerma is the one who gave me an appreciation of both of you!
Oh, Dominique! He's a very good man! (End of Interview)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Junior Division of Sphinx Competition Streamed Live, Feb. 5

[2009 Sphinx Competition Junior Division Winner, Khari Joyner.]

Watch the top three Junior Division Semi Finalists compete live at the Honors Concert presented by MASCO Corporation Foundation

Friday, February 5th, at 12:00 p.m. from the University of Michigan's Rackham Auditorium in Ann Arbor, Michigan in partnership with University Musical Society.

Visit at 12:00 p.m. to view a live stream broadcast of the concert for the first time in Sphinx's history. [The Founder/President of The Sphinx Organization is violinist Aaron P. Dworkin (b. 1970), who is profiled at]

Julius P. Williams, Serena Creary & Jonathan Holland Premiere Black History Works, Winchester, MA

[TOP: Jonathan Bailey Holland; CENTER: Serena Creary; BOTTOM: Julius Penson Williams]

The Taunton Gazette
Taunton, Massachusetts
Black History Month: Winchester's Alcyon Chamber Ensemble pays tribute to civil rights strides
By Staff reports
GateHouse News Service

Posted Jan 28, 2010
Winchester, MA

Winchester’s Alcyon Chamber Ensemble ushers in Black History Month with a children’s concert of music for string quartet. The concert, titled 'Making History,' will take place at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 31, at Parish of the Epiphany, 70 Church St., Winchester. The program features premiere performances by three area African-American composers, Julius P. Williams, Jonathan Holland and Serena Creary.

Williams, noted conductor, composer, recording artist, educator and author is a professor at Berklee College of Music. He was born in the Bronx, N.Y., and graduated from the High School for the performing arts in New York City. He began playing the drums when he was eight years old, adding violin, clarinet and keyboards as he became older. By the time he was 20, he was recording with Fifth Dimension. His composition, written for the Alcyon String Quartet’s celebration of Black History Month 2010, is titled 'Black Symbols in the Sand.' Williams likens it to 'writings in the sand of life.'

Holland’s work, 'Meditation,' is a newly created arrangement of his 'Etudes for Brass and Strings,' originally written for Cleveland Orchestra youth concerts. He describes it as 'representing calmness' and 'floating,' manifested by constantly rising notes with slowly shifting chords above them. Holland is a prolific composer, with commissions from diverse performing organizations and residencies throughout the country.

Creary is currently a student at Natick’s Walnut Hill School for the Arts. Also a prolific composer, her latest piece is for string quartet and narrator. The piece is titled 'Thomas and His Imagination,' and is a charming story about a young lad who learns to trust his imaginings. Performers will include Shufang Du and Randy Hiller, violins; Joan Ellersick, viola; Shannon Snapp, cello; and Serena Creary, narrator. The concert will be repeated on Feb. 6 at 10:30 a.m., at the Class of 1959 Chapel on the Harvard Business School campus in Boston, and on Feb. 21 at 3 p.m. at Creative Arts in Reading.” [Julius Penson Williams (b. 1954) is profiled at]

Johannesburg International Mozart Festival: 'Music and Exile: North-South Narratives' Jan. 27-28

[Mokale Koapeng is a presenter at the Symposium]
“Musical Hemispheres"
27 January 2010 9.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m.
28 January 2010 9.00 a.m. – 4.00 p.m.
Goethe Institut Johannesburg

“This year is seeing the introduction of a Symposium as a new scheme to the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival. The Symposium will present an informative and thought-provoking extension of the 16 music concerts – an opportunity to explore the context of “Musical Hemispheres” as this year’s theme. The Symposium is specially linked with the concert on 27 January at the Linder Auditorium, where works of double-exiled composer Friedrich Hartmann and South African composer Michael Moerane will be performed. The Music and Exile: North-South Narratives Symposium explores the relationship between sound and place in South Africa and internationally. This is done from the perspective of scholars, performers and composers, and covers a wide variety of music, including Western art music, jazz, South African traditional and folk music.

“Composers or performers who have been forced to leave their countries are different to those who leave it voluntarily; musicians who use their music to migrate ‘inwards’ in their art are different to those who use it to remember the places they have left behind. Exile prompts categories like ‘Before the departure’; ‘uprootment’, ‘flight’, ‘arrival’, ‘place’, ‘new beginnings’, ‘nostalgia for home’ and ‘return’.”

“Some of the prominent presenters who will present papers at the symposium include Tim Jackson (University of North Texas), Michael Haas (Jewish Museum, Vienna) and Stephanus Muller (Stellenbosch University), Mokale Koapeng and David Coplan (University of the Witwatersrand). There will also be discussions with composers and performers.” [Michael Mosoeu Moerane (1909-1981) was a South African composer, pianist and choral director. He was the first Black Music graduate of a South African University, and is profiled at]

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Boston Chamber Music Society Performs William Grant Still's 'Suite' for violin and piano

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

The Boston Musical Intelligencer
in: Reviews
January 25, 2010
“Time After Time After Time: BCMS Wraps Winter Series at MIT

By Vance R. Koven

To pick up where we and they left off last week, the Boston Chamber Music Society concluded its three-week winter festival and residency at MIT with a program pursuing the festival’s theme of Musical Time at Kresge Auditorium on January 23. This last installment, with works by Mozart, Loeffler, Still and Foss, was more varied in style and timbre than last week’s all-strings affair, featuring two works—the Mozart Quartet and the Loeffler Two Rhapsodies—with oboe, and one—Foss’s seminal Time Cycle—for a mixed ensemble with a wide battery of percussion.”

William Grant Still was far from the first African-American composer to achieve recognition, but except for Duke Ellington he is probably now the best remembered. His
Suite for violin and piano, from 1943, attempts to interpret in musical time what the eye can take in all at once from three sculptures by African-American artists. On this occasion, the projected images of these works served an eminently sensible purpose. The first, of a figure frozen in the midst of dance, allowed Still to uncoil over time the intense energy only implicit in the static form. His result was propulsive, jazzy, modal, and once again pentatonic, an abstraction of dance rather than its representation. The second, a mother and child sculpted in a fairly stylized and abstract way, yielded music contrastingly more concrete in affect, with a gorgeous tune full of plagal cadences that could easily do duty as a popular song or, ironically, an aria somehow omitted from Porgy and Bess. The third is a stunning bust of a young man, cloth cap slightly askew, with the knowing half-smile that bespeaks urban cool. His face bears, to this viewer, a close resemblance to the young Nat King Cole, and Still’s musical portrait conveys the type of easy, knowing grace of Cole’s early piano playing. The pictures in this exhibition were admirably conveyed by Rhodes and Lee, perfectly capturing each mood.” [William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at, where a complete Works List by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma is found.]

BU Today: 'Opera Star Grace Bumbry Returns to BU'; Scott Joplin's 'Treemonisha'

[Grace Bumbry]

BU Today
Boston University
January 27, 2010

Busy 'retirement' for humanitarian, distinguished alum
By Susan Seligson
Internationally celebrated mezzo soprano Grace Bumbry, whose voice — that sultry, wide-ranging instrument — has inhabited every major operatic heroine, from Santuzza to Dalila to Eboli to Salome, and an unforgettably seductive Carmen, returns to BU this week. The distinguished alumna will address students and the public at the Metcalf Ballroom tonight, as part of the Friends of the Libraries speaker series. An honorary UNESCO ambassador and one of the world’s leading vocal teachers, Bumbry (CFA’55) created the Black Musical Heritage Ensemble, and was one of the 2009 recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors. She will be in residence at the school of music through January 29.

Bumbry, 73, who retired from the stage in 1997, recently accepted the role of the mother in an upcoming Paris production of the Scott Joplin opera Treemonisha, the story of an African-American community’s emergence from slavery. The opera's opening at the Théâtre du Châtelet will mark the 50th anniversary of Bumbry’s opera debut. She spoke to BU Today from her home in Salzburg, Austria.”

BU Today: Were there any offers you just couldn’t refuse?
I’ve accepted the role of the mother in the Scott Joplin opera Treemonisha. It’s at Châtelet in Paris, where I made my operatic debut in 1960. I chose to do it because the content of this piece has to do with the education of blacks from that period. For me it has more value than Porgy and Bess, and that’s had so much exposure. Why not let Treemonisha have the same kind of exposure? I’ve just begun learning it. Rehearsals start in March; you don’t know what to expect with directors with quote-unquote brilliant careers. They didn’t divulge what their ideas were, but they kept insisting I do this role — I didn’t immediately accept it.” [Scott Joplin (1868-1917) was a Ragtime and Classical composer and pianist of African descent who is profiled at]

Monday, January 25, 2010

NYC Opera & Schomburg Center Co-present 'Opera at the Schomburg' Feb. 1, 2010

[Piano Rags; Roy Eaton, piano; Sony SBK 833 (1995)]

Monday, January 25, 2010; Posted: 05:01 PM
“Opera at the Schomburg is the first in a series of three new collaborative programs co-presented by New York City Opera and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Delving into the substantial role of opera in African-American culture, as documented in the Schomburg's prized collections of rare scores, librettos, images, recordings, films, and documents, this public event underscores the intersecting histories, missions, and grassroots work of City Opera and the Schomburg Center.

New York City Opera partners with artists from Opera Noire of New York to present rarely performed live excerpts from the operas Treemonisha, Ouanga, Four Saints in Three Acts, Till Victory is Won, Troubled in Mind, and I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky by composers John Adams, Edward Boatner, Mark Fax, Scott Joplin, Virgil Thomson, and Clarence Cameron White. This program is presented in honor of the Schomburg Center's 85th Anniversary and Howard Dodson's 25th Anniversary as its Director, and dedicated to the memory of the distinguished author and musician Raoul Abdul (1929-2010).

WHEN Monday, February 1, at 7 pm
WHERE The Schomburg Center
515 Malcolm X Boulevard (at 135th Street) New York, NY 10037
TICKETS Tickets: $10
The Schomburg Shop at (212) 491-2206 or
For more information visit and [Scott Joplin (1868-1917) was a Ragtime and Classical composer and pianist of African descent who is profiled at]

On Feb. 2 WHPK-FM, 88.5 Chicago & Online, Plays W.G. Still Symphonies 4 & 5, Interviews John Jeter, Conductor

[William Grant STILL (1895 – 1978); Symphony No. 5 Western Hemisphere (1945, rev. 1970) [19:37]; Poem for Orchestra (1944) [10:27]; Symphony No. 4 Autochthonous (1947) [26:15]; Fort Smith Symphony/John Jeter”; World Première Recordings; NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559603 [56:24]]

Sergio Mims: Live Interview With Maestro John Jeter of the Fort Smith Symphony
I wanted you to know that next Tuesday Feb.2 on my radio show on WHPK-FM aside from playing the new Naxos CD of William Grant Still symphonies No. 4 and 5, I'm also going to be interviewing conductor John Jeter live on my radio show (around 1PM Central Time) about the music of Still and the Fort Smith Symphony Orchestra.
Sergio Mims
Sergio Mims is an African American host of a classical music radio program in Chicago. He notifies AfriClassical when he has scheduled classical works of Composers of African Descent. His latest email concerns his broadcast on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010, which will feature Naxos 8.559603 (2009):

I know that you and your readers will love to know that I'll be playing on Feb. 2 on my classical music radio show on WHPK-FM (88.5 FM in Chicago and live stream online at (12-3 PM Central time) the new Naxos recording of William Grant Still Symphonies Nos. 4 and 5.

The show will also include Brahms String Quartet No.3 and Bartok's Divertimento for string orchestra. Sergio Mims [William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at, where a complete Works List by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma is found.]

Sunday, January 24, 2010

New York Times: 'Memories of Sugar Hill' for Pianist Roy F. Eaton & Other Artists

[PRODIGY Roy Eaton with the piano on which he learned to play. Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times]

On Jan. 21, 2010 AfriClassical posted word of a forthcoming article on Roy F. Eaton and his old Edgecombe neighborhood in New York City. Here is a link to the story in The New York Times, which published additional photos as well.
Memories of Sugar Hill
By David Gonzalez
Published: January 22, 2010
“New York is a city of blocks, each with its own history, customs and characters. Yet from these small stages spring large talents. Anyone who doubts that need look no further than a stretch of Edgecombe Avenue perched on a bluff near 155th Street.” “The son of a taxi mechanic, Roy Eaton was a childhood piano prodigy who became a trailblazer in advertising. His friends on the block included the artist and writer Faith Ringgold; Cecelia Hodges, a Princeton professor and actress; and Sonny Rollins, the 'saxophone Colossus,' who is still touring. Many of them came from Depression-era families who were short on cash but long on dreams, managing to scrimp for music lessons or art supplies. And they lived in a community where neighbors and churches offered encouragement amid rampant racial discrimination.

“It was like our place to dream the impossible dream,” Mr. Eaton said. “It gave me a sense of, you might call it entitlement or unlimited possibilities — that nothing could stop me from doing what I felt I could do.” “For Roy Eaton, the childhood wonder of his Edgecombe Avenue days has been like a light guiding him through dark moments and celebrations alike. His piano career almost didn’t happen. He was slipping a piece of paper under the bathroom door, imitating the men evicting his neighbors in 1933, when it suddenly opened and mangled a finger. Three years later, when he received the first of many awards, the 6-year-old pianist stood on stage at Carnegie Hall and carefully hid the shortened digit. 'I thought if somebody noticed my finger, they’d change their minds and take away the prize,' he recalled. 'That was the first challenge I had to face in my life.'

“He did not shy away from it or those that would follow, thanks in large part to his mother, Bernice, who worked as a domestic servant after she arrived from Jamaica. 'My mother constantly reminded me that I was black in America,” he said. “In order to get credit for 100 percent, you have to do 200 percent.' He began taking piano lessons at age 6, just nine months before winning his first competition and receiving that award at Carnegie Hall.” “'When I sat down at the piano, it was as if I was speaking,' he said. 'I knew I wanted to be a concert pianist, and never wavered. Nobody had to tell me.' “His growth as a pianist continued through college, though his concert career petered out after he served in the military during the Korean War.

“He ended up as a copywriter and composer at an advertising agency, a rarity for a black man in the 1950s. He wrote jingles, including the one for Beefaroni, a pop-culture standard burned into a generation’s collective subconscious.” “None of his accomplishments were unusual for him, he said, even if others thought they were. 'I went through my life as if racial prejudice did not exist,' he said. Now the father of 7-year old twins, he is reminded daily of his own early energy.”

Portland Press Hearald: 'For a small nation, Haiti heavy on classical composers'

[Occide Jeanty and the score from "1804", Marche Militaire, on a 1960 Haitian stamp.]

An interview with Christopher Hyde five years ago resulted in a column about on Jan. 23, 2005. We appreciate Christopher's use of the website to illustrate the classical music heritage of Haiti in his column today. The titles of two recordings he mentions are linked to the websites at which they are available.
Portland Press Herald - Maine Sunday Telegram
For a small nation, Haiti heavy on classical composers
Christopher Hyde
January 24, 2010
For a small nation, which gained its independence from France in 1804 after a long and bloody slave revolt, Haiti has produced more than its share of classical composers. One estimate in "Vodou Nation: Haitian Art Music and Cultural Nationalism" (Michael Largey, University of Chicago Press, 2006) is as high as 60." "The most prominent of Haitian composers – Solon Verret, Justin Elie, Occide Jeanty and Ludovic Lamothe – wrote primarily instrumental music, usually for the piano, and marches and other works for public occasions. The most famous of the latter is Jeanty's '1804' commemorating Haiti's independence. He was prohibited from conducting it during the U.S. occupation of Haiti from 1915 to 1934."

Lamothe, the best known of the Haitian composers, incorporated both Vodou religious music and meringue in his work, hoping that the African ancestry of both would fuse into a national musical style. He was hindered in this effort by the disdain of the Haitian upper classes for 'peasant' music and religion, although he was able to combine the two under the flag of nationalism, as in 'Nibo, Meringue de Carnaval,' of 1934, which was widely played to celebrate the end of American occupation.

"Lamothe's works have been recorded in 'A Vision of Ludovic Lamothe' (IFA Music Records, 2001) by pianist Charles P. Phillips. An overview is provided by guitarist Jean E. Saint-Eloi in 'Music of the Haitian Masters' (IFA Music Records 256, 1999). Elie was the most widely traveled and published of the Haitian pianist-composers and eventually made his home in the United States. His nationalism took the form of support for the Native American cause, something that Haiti had offered since its inception. A sidelight to Elie's successful career was his writing of music to accompany the 1925 silent film 'Phantom of the Opera.' I wonder if Andrew Lloyd Webber ever heard it. I am indebted for most of the information in this column to William J. Zick's formidable Web site,"