Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Trombonist Weston Sprott Gives Master Classes & Recitals in Texas September 1 & 2, 2010

[Act I; Weston Sprott, trombone; Hanako Yamagata, piano; WS Records (2010)]

Weston Sprott is a trombonist in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. He has also performed in two films. Weston released his first CD, Act I, in February on WS Records. It is a solo trumpet recording with piano accompaniment by Hanako Yamagata. The CD is available at CDBaby.com and the music can be downloaded at Amazon.com. We purchased a copy through the website of the performer, and have been enjoying it ever since.

Weston's website is http://www.westonsprott.com/, where his calendar of performances can be found. September 1 and 2, 2010 find him in Texas for master classes and recitals. On Sept. 1 he will be at Texas State University-San Marcos. His appearance on Sept. 2 will be at the University of Texas-Austin.

Pasadena Star-News: 'James DePreist, Pasadena Symphony's new artistic advisor, makes first visit'

[James DePreist]

Posted: 08/30/2010
“PASADENA - On his first visit to Pasadena since being named artistic advisor to the Pasadena Symphony in June, Maestro James DePreist found his surroundings strangely familiar. 'I think I conducted the Monte Carlo Symphony here a few years ago,' DePreist said, looking around at the orchestra's new Ambassador Auditorium digs. 'I know my aunt, Marian Anderson, sang here.' DePreist may face a less daunting situation than the iconic African-American contralto when she sang from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1939 at Eleanor Roosevelt's invitation.

“But the 73-year-old DePreist said he knows his new job will have its own challenges at a 'fragile' time for orchestras in this country. He gave 'considerable thought' to becoming advisor to the symphony on guest conductors, soloists and orchestral repertoire, he said. More so in light of the publicly unexplained departure of Maestro Jorge Mester in May after 25 years, then last week's sudden resignation of 10-year POPS music director Rachael Worby.

"'It gives one pause,' he said, adding that it suggested not everyone has been 'on the same page.' 'The question is, can you rise above the schisms that exist? I don't underestimate the challenge at all,' DePreist said. 'I know Jorge, we've been friends for a long time,' DePreist said. 'I'm not a replacement for anyone, I'm not rushing in to fill a void ... I agreed to work alongside everyone, in a way that I can use the experience I have. And if I can't, I will be the fastest person leaving Pasadena."

[On March 1, 2010 AfriClassical.com announced a complete revision of its page on James DePreist (b. 1936), the world-famous African American conductor who is Director of Conducting & Orchestral Studies at The Juilliard School in New York City. James De Preist has also published two volumes of poetry and has his own website, http://www.JamesDePreist.com.]

Monday, August 30, 2010

Kelly Hall-Tompkins: 'Music Kitchen Reaches Homeless Youth for the First Time'

[Kelly Hall-Tompkins & Mark O'Connor at Music Kitchen Performance (New York Times)]

Kelly Hall-Tompkins sends us this news of Music Kitchen, which she founded and directs:

“44th Music Kitchen Performance of the String Quartet #2 'Bluegrass' and Appalachia Waltz by Mark O'Connor
Turning Point Youth Shelter, Brooklyn – May 18, 2010
**New Venue**
Kelly Hall-Tompkins, violin; Mark O’Connor, violin; Gillian Gallagher, viola; Patrice Jackson, cello

“Dear Friends of Music Kitchen,
Tonight's Music Kitchen was another exciting foray into a new venue in New York City's rich, diverse metropolis. In addition to the two wonderful church shelter programs that we have the opportunity to serve, I am really excited to bring Music Kitchen concerts back to a full-time homeless shelter. As a result of their budget cuts and subsequent restructuring, the Olivieri Center for Homeless Women, my initial Music Kitchen shelter partner, has been unable to resume hosting Music Kitchen performances, so I was happy to respond to an unsolicited appeal from a new shelter resulting from the recent New York Times feature.

“This concert was unique in many ways: not only was it a new venue and partnership, but it represented the very first concert in the outer boroughs - this time Brooklyn. This concert was even more unique because our audience were the clients of two youth shelters - one temporary shelter where the clients are runaways aged 16-20 and the second, an all-women's shelter, where the clients range up to age 25. There were so many remarkable human stories and interactions which unfolded in this one concert that it's difficult to capture them all in this narrative. There are even many additional layers which I was only able to discover upon debriefing with the shelter staff afterward as several of us rode back to Manhattan on the subway. But following is a snapshot of my experience of last night's concert.

“First of all, it became evident right away as the clients entered the room that homelessness combined with near adolescence would be a brand new challenge for Music Kitchen concerts. Some were talkative with us right away as they entered in a fresh and youthful way, while many had the wait and see approach. Naturally when we started playing, since we were completely new visitors for them, we had their rapt attention. We began with Mark's calm and nostalgic work- Appalachia Waltz, the version for just 2 violins. Their attention lasted for all of 5 minutes, if that.

"Then there were snickers to the left, and a bit of antsy fidgeting began as some of the young listeners, in typical peer pressure fashion, were looking around the room to gauge whether or not it was 'ok' to enjoy this. Many others seemed to ignore this age old drama and actually began to open up to us and the performance from the beginning. Despite all these conflicting attitudes, I felt the energy in the room begin to settle and soften. But considering it was a slow, melodious work - it was in fact 2 minutes too long for a group of young people not sure exactly what to expect from the evening and without a swing to something more lively.

“This made it the perfect introduction to our next, very energetic work - perfect for the audience, particularly at this moment. I explained a bit about Mark O'Connor's quartet entitled 'Bluegrass', with its motoring 'Bartok meets Appalachia' rhythms and twangy and soulful, blues-inspired melodies. 'What's Blue-grass?' one NY area native asked. 'I thought the grass was green.' Mark explained how the style of music gets its name from the tint of the grass in the distance in the hills of rural Kentucky where it originated. And then we jumped right in. There were a few puzzled looks and sounds for a couple of minutes until the listeners gained their footing, then that same young man, who quipped about the grass, set the tone for the whole group as he spoke, almost to himself over the music: 'That-is-awesome-!'. I smiled. From then on we were in!

“I explained the second movement’s special sound effect, called 'chopping', where the quartet becomes a rhythm section under various melodies, striking the hair on the string instead of drawing it in the typical lyrical fashion. Though it is based on a traditional Bluegrass technique, Mark pointed out that it also resembles a hip-hop scratch technique. We played the movement and asked afterward if the listeners had recognized the chopping technique. By this time, a couple of the young men who had previously been snickering in the beginning, had now moved closer to us for an up-close view. The staff later told me that, to their delight, some of their most troubled, hardest to reach youths were among those who moved closer. We then moved on to the slow movement, very Bluegrass, but also strongly Gospel influenced. The listeners questions became freer, the most interactive so far - one young woman asked articulately, 'How do you create that sound that's almost like bagpipes or an accordian?'

“'Excellent question', I said, and I demonstrated what harmonics are and what they can sound like when they are so expertly composed and voiced into such mysterious and soulful harmonies. Another young woman asked if we could play the theme from Titanic. I had already played it in the beginning on request, before this and most other guests had arrived. But Gillian wisely interjected that we could play it again after they listened to the final movement of the quartet, creating a little bon-bon for us to leave them with that would be more immediately familiar. With that we launched into the 4th movement with more grooving rhythms. At the conclusion of the piece, we bowed and sat for more questions.

“One youth who did not appear to be interested and made no eye contact with anyone, moved to the front row. Though she continued to stare straight ahead, I was glad that she felt comfortable to open up even just that little bit. Another young woman said of the 4th mvt, 'Now this is just a crazy fantasy in my head, but that one makes me feel like I should have pink hair and bang my head like punk music.' Actually, I could see her point - it does have a punk flair to it.

“More questions, the environment became even warmer and almost festive as we had an easy going exchange with our young listeners - 'How can you read all those notes like that?' I showed her the music and briefly explained that although we all learned as children, it's never too late. I showed her one particular passage and tried to demystify it. I also told her that this music is particularly complex to read because it takes rhythms which are naturally part of our American culture and it has to notate them in a European classical language - the result is very complex to just sit down and read the first time. Mark continued that after we have put so much time into learning the notes and rhythms, we're no longer really reading the notes but merely reminding ourselves of what has been internalized.

“One beautiful and obviously intelligent young woman, who had been riveted from the very beginning, constantly taking in my every move, finally began to speak up. Could you tell me the difference between the violin and the viola? Gillian and I held up our instruments and explained the difference in register of all the instruments. No - it was becoming apparent that we had a former player on our hands - she wanted specifics. Can you tell me the names of the strings? I did so and asked, 'Do you play?' 'I used to,' she said shyly, looking down. I felt a pang for whatever lost opportunities were in her past and for what I wanted in that moment to help her achieve in her future. 'You should pick it up again.' I said, hoping to encourage her. 'How can I afford lessons, an instrument…?' she said, with overwhelm. There is always a way, we all encouraged, scholarships, people willing to help. Many in the room wanted to believe us. We shared briefly some of our personal stories of opportunities and scholarships coming our way.

“I felt it was a good time to reprise one of my favorite quotes, which I had already printed for them on today’s 'The Music You heard Today/Favorite Quote of the Day' cards. I had also recently dramatized it for a younger group of students at a school in Florida where I was recently a visiting artist: 'Follow your Bliss and the Universe will open doors where there were only walls' I recited. Then all eyes followed me to the cinder block wall in the back as I slapped the bare wall- 'You see this solid wall? It looks impenetrable and imposing - but if you follow your bliss, the solid wall can become a door to places you didn’t know were possible.' 'You know how many walls I have in front of me?' one young woman quipped saucily, half dishearteningly to herself, half in jest. I knew that there was no way I could fully understand the experience she might be speaking from, but still I tried to speak words of encouragement.

“Soon after that, another young woman asked if she could play one of our instruments. Gillian immediately rose to the occasion, patiently showing her how to hold her viola and coaching her in the delicate art of making sound with the bow. The youthful client looked truly happy while she tried it and we all shared laughs and jokes as she got the hang of it and got into it. This was just enough to give the other young woman, who had taken lessons before, enough confidence to come up as well. She approached with a combined sense of inhibitions and longing for an old friend. We joked that she would have to lose her beautiful long fingernails in order to take lessons, but for the moment, she reconnected with what was obviously a dormant passion. We applauded her tone as she put bow to string, trying to remember how.

“At the end of our performance, as promised, I played the melody from 'My heart will go on,' the theme from the movie Titanic. Afterwards, we were greeted warmly by many of the young listeners as they stayed for the refreshment reception provided by the shelter staff. I feel we made a difference here – many of our listeners asked us when we were coming back. I do look forward to returning though, as always, this particular moment in time and these young people will likely be long gone.”
“Thank you for your support of Music Kitchen concerts.
Kelly Hall-Tompkins, Violinist/Founder/Director

David O'Rourke's Blog: William Grant Still's 'slow movement of his 2nd Symphony is breathtaking'

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

String Writing
String Writing in Jazz
“Bill Finegan's string charts on Ellington's music for a Sonny Stitt album also contain some great overlooked writing. William Grant Still straddled both sides of the classical/jazz fence - his slow movement of his 2nd Symphony is breathtaking.”

William Grant Still's Symphony No. 1 (Afro-American Symphony) was premiered in 1931. Michael Fleming has written the liner notes for Still's Symphony No. 2 in G Minor (Song of a New Race) (29:22). It was recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Neeme Jarvi, Conductor, on Chandos 9226 (1993). Fleming recounts: “For several years after his successful debut as a symphonist, Still continued to be regarded as primarily an arranger.” The composer provided subtitles for the four movements of the symphony: Yearnings, Sorrow, Humor and Aspiration. [William Grant Still (1895-1978) and Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (1899-1974) are profiled at AfriClassical.com, which features a complete Works List for William Grant Still, compiled by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma.]

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Kelly Hall-Tompkins Receives $15,000 Donation for Music Kitchen from Buck Family Foundation

[Kelly Hall-Tompkins]

Violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins sends us news of a recent grant for Music Kitchen, which she founded and directs:

Music Kitchen Awarded $15,000 Grant from The Buck Family Foundation

Thanks again to the exposure from The New York Times feature last December, I was contacted by The Buck Family Foundation as the Music Kitchen Mission had piqued the interest of members of their board. Following an initial round of questions I was informed that Music Kitchen had progressed to their shortlist for funding consideration, and I was invited to give a live 1-hour presentation to the board this summer. Since my concertizing travels had me in South Dakota on the appointed day in July, the foundation was kind enough to allow me to make my Power Point Presentation over the internet via Skype!

Immediately following the presentation I was notified of the award. Many thanks to Stacey Morris and The Buck Family Foundation for their generosity, vision and support of Music Kitchen- Food for the Soul! Many thanks also to Michael Hill and The Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City, South Dakota for graciously facilitating the use of their conference room and ethernet hookup.

Comment by email:
Congratulations!! Keep up the great work you are doing for the benefit of music and humankind!! Dr. Timothy W. Holley, North Carolina Central University

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pasadena Symphony Hosts Meet-and-Greet with Maestro James DePreist Aug. 29

[James DePreist, Fanfare Magazine, November-December 1995]

Sunday, August 29, 2010 from 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM (PT)
Pasadena, CA
The Pasadena Symphony Association invites you to a festive meet-and-greet with Maestro James DePreist
Date: Sunday, August 29th, 2010
Time: Between 4 & 5:30 pm
(Q & A session will begin at 4:30 pm)

Location: The Club Room at Granite Park Place
920 Granite Drive
Pasadena, CA 91101

Parking is available in the underground garage. Please take the central elevator to the main level and follow the signs
Light refreshments will be served
Tours of Granite Park Place will be available
[On March 1, 2010 AfriClassical.com announced a complete revision of its page on James DePreist (b. 1936), the world-famous African American conductor who is Director of Conducting & Orchestral Studies at The Juilliard School in New York City. James De Preist has also published two volumes of poetry and has his own website, http://www.JamesDePreist.com.]

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Nigerian Composer Meki Nzewi: 'African Classical Ensemble Music, Books 1 to 3'

[Prof. Meki Nzewi; African Classical Ensemble Music, Books 1 to 3; Meki Nzewi and O’dyke Nzewi ISBN: 978-1-920355-03-6]

On Jan. 2, 2010 AfriClassical posted: “Meki Nzewi: 'I...register my appreciation of the committed service you are rendering.'” The post quoted an email received that day from Prof. Meki Nzewi:

“Bill, I wish you the best of 2010, and hereby register my appreciation of the committed service you are rendering through promoting the advancement of the classical merits of African music through representing its literacy composers and performers globally. Highly appreciated. Prof. Meki Nzewi Professor of African Music - Theory and Practice Dept. of Music, University of Pretoria. Centre/Programme Director, Centre for Indigenous Instrumental Music and Dance Practices in SADC (CIIMDA)”

The Dictionary of African Composers does not appear to be accessible at present, but it was the resource which introduced us to Prof. Nzewi. This week we heard from his daughter Onunna Anyiwo:

“Good Morning and thank you for the wonderful posting on Meki Nzewi. My name is Onunna Anyiwo and I am Meki's last child. I saw your wonderful write up on http://africlassical.blogspot.com/2009/08/dictionary-of-african-composers.html and wanted to use this opportunity to reach out to you.

“Meki has a website http://www.mekinzewi.com and a facebook page http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Meki-Nzewi-Official-Page/128995557127943?ref=ts that I am publicizing. I am looking for resources to republish some of his writings here in the US to increase availability and marketability. I also hope to organize some speaking engagements for him in the near future.” “I am also interested in finding book reviewers.” “Once again, I commend and thank you for the great work that you are doing in bringing his over thirty years of work to the limelight. Thank you. Onunna Anyiwo"

Violinist Danielle Belen & Sphinx Symphony Play 'Mother and Child' by William Grant Still on YouTube

[William Grant Still: Afro-American Symphony; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Karl Kruger, conductor; Bridge 9086 (1999)]

A YouTube video dated Nov. 24, 2008 features violinist Danielle Belen Nesmith, http://www.BelenViolin.com. She is accompanied by the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, led by Tito Munoz, Conductor, as she plays Mother and Child, the Second Movement of William Grant Still's Suite for Violin & Piano:

William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at AfriClassical.com, where a complete Works List by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma is found. Here is the entry on William Grant Still's Suite for Violin & Piano:

Suite, violin & piano (1943). Los Angeles: Delkas Music, 1945. 28p. & part (violin part ed. by Louis Kaufman). 1. African dancer, after the bronze sculpture by Richard Barthe; majestically; vigorously; 2. Mother and child, after the lithograph by Sargent Johnson; slowly and expressively; 3. Gamin, after the bronze sculpture by Augusta Savage; rhythmically and humorously. Dedication: Louis and Annette Kaufman. Première: 1944/IV/15; Boston; Jordan Hall; Louis Kaufman, violin. Duration: 11:22.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kemper Road String Quartet: 'Chamber Works of William Grant Still,' Georgetown University Sept. 17

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

William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at AfriClassical.com, where a complete Works List by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma is found:

Georgetown University
Department of Performing Arts
Friday, September 17, 2010 at 1:15pm
McNeir Auditorium

The Kemper Road String Quartet
Nati Draiblate, violin
John Knudson, violin
Raea Jean Leinster, viola
Danielle Cho, cello
Anthony DelDonna and Rufus Jones, narrators

Co-presented by Lauinger Library
This narrated program features works by William Grant Still related to an exhibition of autograph manuscripts on display in the Leon Robbin Gallery in Lauinger Library. The program will include Little Folk Suites Nos. 1-6, Prince and the Mermaid Suite, and Lyric for String Quartet. The Georgetown University Music Program’s Friday Music Series features acclaimed artists in free concerts on Fridays at 1:15 p.m. in McNeir Hall, on Georgetown’s main campus.

FREE Access » This event has been marked as open to the public.
Contact Department of Performing Arts
108 Davis Performing Arts Center
3700 O St., NW
Box 571063
Washington, D.C. 20057-1063
Phone: (202) 687-3838
Georgetown University Music Program: Friday Music Series Web site
For more information, see http://performingarts.georgetown.edu

Imani Winds: Wayne Shorter, Paquito D'Rivera and Jason Moran on 'Terra Incognita'

[Terra Incognita; Imani Winds; E1 (2010)]

AfriClassical has featured the innovative quintet Imani Winds for several years. The group released its latest CD on the E1 Music label August 24, 2010:

'Terra Incognita' Now Available
We are thrilled for the release of "Terra Incognita," our latest album on E1 music. The record features new pieces by Wayne Shorter, Paquito D'Rivera and Jason Moran.
That these three internationally renowned artists have chosen Imani Winds as the interpreter for their composition is a source of great honor for the group. Each piece on the album reimagines the definition of standard American chamber music by incorporating colorful harmonic language and, especially in the case of the title track, a unique perspective on structure. Terra Incognita, which means "unknown land," is the first piece Wayne Shorter has ever written for another ensemble. It is infused with his unique harmonic language, but also honors the institution of the traditional woodwind quintet. Written in 2008, it was premiered at the La Jolla Chamber Music Festival and performed at Carnegie Hall. Master clarinet player Paquito D'Rivera joins the Imani Winds on his own piece, Kites, along with pianist Alex Brown. Paquito's work captures the spirit of his youth and the soaring kites he recalls in Havana, Cuba, where he lived until 1981, before defecting to the United States. Jason Moran's Cane reminisces about his family's history in rural Louisiana, in the town of Natchitoches. Creole flavors infuse this four-movement work, as does his pride in his family's strong and determined roots.”

July 9, 2010
Imani Winds’ new album Terra Incognita (E1 Music) will be available on August 24. The album marks the fifth release on E1 for Imani Winds which has, since the Grammy nominated debut release in 2005, established itself as the premier wind quintet in North America. The recording – titled Terra Incognita after Wayne Shorter’s piece written for the group – celebrates new additions to the woodwind quintet repertoire with three unique compositions by jazz greats Jason Moran, Paquito D’Rivera and Shorter. These works, commissioned and written for the enterprising Imani Winds for their Legacy Project, have become staples in their repertoire, and audience favorites.”

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Eliesha Nelson on Laura Aiken: 'She has a clarity and beauty to her sound that fit the Berg and the Korngold well.'

[Quincy Porter, Complete Viola Works; Eliesha Nelson, viola; John McLaughlin Williams, violin, piano, harpsichord; Douglas Rioth, harp; Northwest Sinfonia, John McLaughlin Williams, conductor; Dorian Recordings DSL 90911 (73:47) (2009)]

Eliesha Nelson has been featured by AfriClassical in connection with her CD, Quincy Porter, Complete Viola Works, as well as her master classes and performances of works for viola of composer H. Leslie Adams. Eliesha is a violist for the Cleveland Orchestra, which took part in the Edinburgh International Festival which began on August 13, 2010 and continues. The orchestra is giving 9 concerts in 6 cities on this tour of Europe. News of the tour is available at: http://www.clevelandorchestrablog.com/

We asked Eliesha Nelson if she would share some of her impressions of the Edinburgh International Festival with our readers, and she kindly provided these remarks:

“I think the high points were definitely soprano Laura Aiken. She has a clarity and beauty to her sound that fit the Berg and the Korngold well.

“As for the Orchestra on tour - I think the musicians always aim to present ourselves and the music at the highest level. We love to bring the best of Cleveland to other parts of the world, and we enjoy the cultural exchange of experiencing other places.”

Comment by email:
Thank you for Eliesha Nelson's posting on soprano Laura Aiken during the Cleveland Orchestra's European tour. Eliesha was the first place winner of the 1992 National Association of Negro Musicians (NANM) string competition. Her instrument at the time was violin and she represented the Central Region of NANM. She was a resident of the state of Alaska at that time and the youngest of four contetants. We continue to wish her well in her career. Musically yours, Barbara Wright-Pryor

Nigerian Academy of Letters Admits Fela Sowande (1905-1987), Composer & Organist

[The Organ Works of Fela Sowande: A Cultural Perspective; Godwin Sadoh, D.M.A.]

August 24, 2010
“Twenty eight leading lights of science and letters in Nigeria will on October 9th be inducted to The Nigerian Hall of Fame for Science and The Nigerian Hall of Fame for Letters at a prestigious gala held by Nigeria LNG Limited, The Nigerian Academy of Science and The Nigerian Academy of Letters. They will be honoured for outstanding contribution to science and letters which has put Nigeria on the world literary and scientific map, promoted learning and scholarship and bettered the lives of Nigerians.

Fela Sowande (1905-1987) is admitted in recognition of his contribution of modernization of Nigerian music and introduction of the Nigerian idiom into symphonic music.”

Fela Sowande is profiled at AfriClassical.com:
The African composer Olufela Sowande was born in Oyo, Nigeria on May 29, 1905. Bode Omojola, Ph.D., chronicles his life and career in the 1995 book, Nigerian Art Music, in which he observes: “Fela Sowande is undoubtedly the father of modern Nigerian Art Music and perhaps the most distinguished and internationally known African composer. The most significant pioneer-composer of works in the European classical idiom, his works mark the beginning of an era of modern Nigerian Art Music.”

Fela's father was Emmanuel Sowande, an Anglican priest of Egba descent who helped establish Nigerian church music in the early 20th century. The elder Sowande taught at St. Andrew's College, a missionary institute in Nigeria which trained young people to become teachers. Emmanuel Sowande was subsequently transferred to Lagos, and young Fela accompanied him there. Fela's father arranged for him to be a choir boy at Christ Church Cathedral.

Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma is Professor of Music at Lawrence University Conservatory of Music, and a leading authority on composers of African descent. He notes that Fela went from choir boy to music student, beginning a "20-year association" with the choir's Director, Thomas King Ekundayo Phillips. The professor has posted an excerpt on Sowande from a manuscript on Black composers at a Web site: http://www.africanchorus.org/Artists/Sowande.htm

Monday, August 23, 2010

Visitor on R. Nathaniel Dett: 'His works will live on for centuries to come.'

[R. Nathaniel Dett (Photo from Library of Congress)]

R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943) was an African American composer, pianist and choral director whose tenure at Hampton Institute, now Hampton University, was legendary during his lifetime. He is profiled at AfriClassical.com on a page which features a complete Works List compiled by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma of Lawrence University Conservatory of Appleton, Wisconsin.

Nathaniel Williams of Albany, Georgia has left two entries in the Guest Book at AfriClassical.com in the past few days. On August 20, 2010 he said “Mr. [R. Nathaniel] Dett was was one of the 'greatest' Composers of his time and even presently. His Music and Composition work is still top notch...” “His works will live on for centuries to come.”

An entry by Nathaniel Williams on August 23, 2020 reads: “This is an honor for me to say a few words about this unique experience for me to read about some of the greatest 'Talented' personalities that I have heard about by listening to some of their 'greatest' Songs and compositions. I have been around since the early 1930's so I've seen a lot and experienced lots of the same kinds of heartbreaks that most of you have during these years that God has kept me and blessed me to see and I do praise God for all that He has done for us through all these years and we aren't there yet but thanks be to God it is better now than it was more than 75 years ago. My prayer is that our younger generations would try very hard to be the 'best' that they can be and follow the examples that all of you have set for 'future' generations to come. I Thank you for this opportunity.”

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Nokuthula Ngwenyama Opens Red Rocks Music Festival in Sedona, Arizona Sept. 3

[Nokuthula Ngwenyama (Photo by Darla Furlani)]

Bach, Vivaldi...and some Latin Jazz
The first concert will be Friday, September 3, at 7 pm and will be performed by Nokuthula Ngwenyama, violin/viola and Eckart Sellheim, Piano. Program includes works by: J.S. Bach and F. Chopin.

“Ms. Ngwenyama came to international attention when she won the Primose Competition and the Young Artists International Auditions when she was 17 years old. She was also a viola professor at Indiana University and president of the American Viola Society. Mr. Sellheim is a concert pianist.”

'You can't imagine how grateful and gleeful I felt stumbling on your page dedicated to Ludovic Lamothe.'

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

Ludovic Lamothe (1882-1953) is a composer and pianist who is a leading figure in the history of Haitian Classical Music. His skill as a performer led to the nickname "A Black Chopin." The pianist Charles P. Phillips has recorded an entire CD of Lamothe's works for piano, A Vision of Ludovic Lamothe, which is available at http://CDBaby.com/cd/cpphillips This is an excerpt from an email received this week on the Ludovic Lamothe page at AfriClassical.com:

I'm a student of redaction at U of Montreal, but really of composition at its music faculty. I decided to change majors for a while to later finish my music bachelor's degree in 'techniques d'écriture' (same curriculum as the composition program, but I chose not to have creative classes; only theory, counterpoint, harmony, etc).

“I'd heard Lamothe's music performed by others all my life, but never by the man himself; thanks for the Megaupload link!! Though my music studies are on ice, I'm still writing and recording. One of the songs I rearranged for an upcoming studio session is a Lamothe. I wanted to read a bit on his life and oeuvre, and thus fell upon your website.”

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Music of José Mauricio Nunes Garcia at Edinburgh International Festival 18 August 2010

[José Mauricio Nunes Garcia]

José Mauricio Nunes Garcia (1767-1830) was an Afro-Brazilian composer and organist who composed Brazil's first opera and left a large body of liturgical music. He is profiled at AfriClassical.com. His music was performed at the Edinburgh International Festival on 18 August 2010:

Edinburgh International Festival, 13 August – 5 September 2010
18 August 2010
About the performance
Director Bruno Procopio, with his choir and instrumental ensemble, takes a musical journey from Portugal to Brazil. The concert includes the extraordinary requiem by 19th century native Brazilian composer José Mauricio Nunes Garcia and Haydn's Missa Brevis written in honour of the Portuguese friar Saint João Cidade, St John of God.

Performance Details

Ensemble Le Sans-Pareil
Bruno Procopio Director
Luanda Siqueira Soprano
Sacha Hatala Alto
Daniel Issa Tenor
Geoffroy Buffière Baritone
Patrick Bismuth Violin
Hélène Houzel Violin
Frédéric Baldassare Violincello”

University of Miami Music Library Has 'A Choice Collection of the Music of Francis Johnson'

[The Music of Francis Johnson & His Contemporaries: Early 19th-Century Black Composers; Diane Monroe, Violin; The Chestnut Brass Company and Friends; Tamara Brooks, Conductor; Music Masters 7029-2-C (1990)]

Francis B. Johnson (1792-1844) was an African American bugler, bandleader and composer who is profiled at AfriClassical.com. His life has been researched by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, Professor of Music, Lawrence University Conservatory, Appleton, Wisconsin.

We are very grateful for research by an industrious visitor to AfriClassical.com, Micheal Sturgulewski, who sent us an email a few days ago:
“Great website...long overdue. For years I've have been trying to obtain piano sheet music for Francis Johnson's music, especially his moving song, The Grave of the Slave. Are you aware of any sources where I can find this work and possibly others?”

We replied that one source for sheet music of Francis Johnson is:
“Keffer Collection of Sheet Music, ca. 1790-1895” at the Library of the University of Pennsylvania. We also noted that Suzanne Flandreau, Head Librarian and Archivist, Center for Black Music Research, Columbia College Chicago, has excellent reference materials on the music of Composers of African Descent, http://www.colum.edu/cbmr

Micheal Sturgulewski now tells us:
“Luckily, the University of Miami Music Library had a now out-of-print two-volume set entitled 'A Choice Collection of the Music of Francis Johnson.' It includes authoritative and well annotated piano arrangements of most of his major works including The Grave of the Slave.'” He provides this bibliographical information:

Charles Kelly Jones and Lorenzo K. Greenwich II, compiled, edited, and annotated by,
A Choice Collection of the Works of Francis Johnson,
Point Two Publications, NY; 1983.

“The set seems to contain all of his major works and then some. I should mention that it's a very scholarly, well-annotated and beautifully bound couple of volumes; each even comes with a bound ribbon marker. There are two pages of background information for Grave of the Slave alone; similar in many respects to the two-volume Stephen Foster collection that Smithsonian published around the same time...also out of print.

“I can't tell you how pleased I am to have found this set. Though my main musical interests are the German symphonic and operatic works (Beethoven, Weber, Schumann, Brahms, Bruckner, Wagner, Mahler, Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, ...), I've had a deep and lifelong interest in the musical evolution of lighter instrumental works, operettas and song literature, European and American.

"Since I first came across his music, I've long felt that Jack Johnson has been unjustly forgotten and seriously underrated. In my opinion, his dances, marches and quadrilles compare favorably with many of the J. Strauss Jr. and Lanner works written twenty or more years later and 'Grave of the Slave' and other of his songs are reminiscent of many of early Romantic lieder composers (Schubert, Schumann, Weber and Mendelssohn). And considering that most of his music was written in the 1820's and 30's...in America...by a black musician...his introduction of such novel instrumental effects for the period...make his accomplishments all the more striking.

“I would have loved to have heard that Haydn Creation he produced as well as meet this amazing and accomplished man! Though I just retired as founding physics teacher at the New World School of Arts in Miami, I'm forwarding a copy of Grave of the Slave sheet music to our new activities director with the hopes that it will be included in this year's Black History Show performed during February. Though well intentioned, often these ethnic cultural history shows miss the mark and ignore truly significant accomplishments. I'll let you know whether it materializes.”