Tuesday, February 21, 2012

DailyRecord.com: 'In Classical Style: Drew professor adding to legacy of black composers'

[ABOVE: Florence B. Price: Concerto in One Movement, Symphony in E Minor; New Black Music Repertory Ensemble; Leslie B. Dunner, Conductor; Karen Walwyn, Piano; Albany Records 1295 (2011) BELOW: "Madison, 02/15/12---44-year-old Trevor Weston, chair of the music department at Drew University. Weston is a composer of more than 40 classical works, including orchestral and choral pieces and even an opera. Recently he was commissioned by the Center for Black Music Research to record a symphony, and reconstruct a concerto for piano," STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/BOB KARP 2012. / Bob Karp/staff photo]

Written by
Lorraine Ash
Staff Writer
MADISON — Mozart and Beethoven inspired generations of classical composers, but who inspired them? For one, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, the first black composer to lead major French orchestras. In 1779 Saint-Georges performed with Queen Marie-Antoinette. Yet his works — and those of generations of black classical composers — do not appear in anthologies of classical music.

Trevor Weston, chairman of the music department at Drew University, has an opinion about that. 'When it comes to discussing who creates what sort of music,' Weston said, 'we tend to identify things by what people look like as opposed to what they’ve actually done.' As a professor, the 44-year-old Weston works hard to make the black contribution to all music visible, even as he writes his own works and contributes to the legacy. 'Black Americans have been writing in a classical style for a long time,' Weston said. 'But rarely do we hear of it because of social issues.'

In the 20th century alone, the list includes William Grant Still, William Dawson, R. Nathaniel Dett, and Florence Beatrice Price, the first female African-American classical composer to have her work performed by a major American orchestra. Both of Weston’s mentors also are major composers in their own right — T.J. Anderson at Tufts University and Olly Wilson at the University of California at Berkeley, where Weston earned his doctorate.

In a project called 'Recorded Music of the African Diaspora,' the Center for Black Music Research decided to revive the music of black composers. As part of its efforts, it commissioned Weston to reconstruct Price’s long-lost Concerto in One Movement for Piano.” [William Levi Dawson, R. Nathaniel Dett, Florence B. Price, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges and William Grant Still are profiled at AfriClassical.com, which features Works Lists for William Levi Dawson, R. Nathaniel Dett, Florence B. Price and William Grant Still by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, http://www.CasaMusicaledeLerma.com]

No comments: