Sunday, November 6, 2011

'Solemn Prelude' of Ulysses Kay 'becomes considerably more intricate in its bitonal climactic passages'

[ABOVE: Out of the Depths: Music by African-American Composers; Keystone Wind Ensemble; Jack Stamp, Conductor; Myron D. Moss, Guest Conductor; Citadel 88143 (2002) BELOW: Ulysses S. Kay]

Ulysses Simpson Kay (1917-1995) is profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works List by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, Track 3 of Out of the Depths: Music by African-American Composers is Solemn Prelude of Ulysses S. Kay. Guest Conductor Myron D. Moss directs the Keystone Wind Ensemble. He also writes the liner notes of the CD:

“Ulysses Kay (1917-1995) was among the first black composers to work in an 'internationalist' style, directly affected by the music of Stravinsky, Hindemith, and Bartok. Kay studied with Rogers and Hanson at Eastman, and Hindemith at Tanglewood and Yale. Though Kay is never identified as an 'Eastman Group' composer, in the mold of Hanson or Peter Mennin, the lyricism, formal clarity and relatively conservative harmony associated with that group pervades his music. He won critical acceptance swiftly, writing several well-received orchestral pieces before turning 30. His Of New Horizons from 1944 won an American Broadcasting Company prize and was the piece by which he was represented in a 1958 U.S. State Department cultural exchange with the Soviet Union. His compositions include a great deal of vocal and choral music, four operas, and major orchestral works (his Fantasy Variations is included on Citadel CTD 881124). Kay, like Roger Dickerson, served in a military band, and he ultimately composed six band pieces.

Solemn Prelude was commissioned by Donald Moore at Baylor University and premiered in 1949. Kay says he set out to create, 'symphonic expression using quite simple musical materials.' Kay was famously modest and he is being so here. The opening melody with its modal accompaniment is simple sounding (and lovely), but the piece becomes considerably more intricate in its bitonal climactic passages and in the transparently scored final minutes.”

This CD is available from a small number of retailers. The best price we have found is $8.99 at

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