Saturday, June 30, 2012

'Adolphus Hailstork: An American Port of Call' on Naxos is an exciting yet cerebral disc

[Adolphus Hailstork: An American Port of Call; Naxos 8.559722 (2012)]

Adolphus C. Hailstork is a prolific African American composer whose vocal and instrumental works are performed with great frequency. He was born on April 17, 1941 and is featured at, which lists 28 recordings on which his works appear. The Virginia Symphony, under the direction of JoAnn Falletta, has just released its first CD on the Naxos label, An American Port of Call, Naxos 8.559722 (2012).

The new CD opens with the composer's Symphony No. 1 (1988) (21:10). JoAnn Falletta leads the Virginia Symphony in a bright and lively rendition of the work. Next is
Three Spirituals (2005) (8:17), an instrumental piece encompassing Everytime I Feel The Spirit; Kum Ba Yah; and Oh Freedom. The title work of the recording follows: An American Port of Call (1985) (8:33). Fanfare on Amazing Grace (2003) (3:32) is next. The program concludes with the choral work, Whitman's Journey: Launch Out on Endless Seas (2005) (17:37). The texts are by Walt Whitman. Vocal performers are Kevin Deas, baritone; and the Virginia Symphony Chorus, whose Director is Robert Shoup.

Composer’s Notes
“In 1987 I was asked to write a piece for a summer music festival in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. Since the piece was to be twenty minutes long and for a Haydn-sized orchestra I decided that a simple first symphony would fit the bill. It is written in the standard four movements: Allegro, Adagio, Scherzo and Rondo. The final rondo brings back themes from the previous three movements.

“The Three Spirituals are orchestral settings of three spirituals I set for pipe organ: Everytime I Feel The Spirit, Kum Ba Yah, and Oh Freedom. I made the arrangements in 2005 to help celebrate the reopening of the Crispus Attucks Theater in Norfolk, Virginia.

An American Port of Call was written in 1985 for the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. The concert overture, in sonata-allegro form captures the strident (and occasionally tender and even mysterious) energy of a busy American port city. The great port of Norfolk, Virginia, where I live, was the direct inspiration.

Whitman’s Journey, Launch Out on Endless Seas was commissioned by Donald J. McCullough for the Master Chorale of Washington, DC. The première took place in April 2006 at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Though this movement was originally conceived as the first of a set of three, it stands alone as a tribute to the adventurous spirit of all people setting out on the seas of life. The texts used in this piece are among the early, youthful poems in Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. They depict Whitman’s vigorous optimism and his call to all women and men to join with him as he launches out on life’s great journey.
Adolphus Hailstork

Adolphus Hailstork, JoAnn Falletta and the Virginia Symphony have worked their magic once again, this time with an international release on the world's leading classical music label, Naxos. This is an exciting yet cerebral disc we expect to make a regular part of our music listening.

Disclosure: A review copy of this CD was provided by the record label. 

'IHLOMBE South African Choral Ensemble' July 5-15, 2012

Fred Onovwerosuoke, composer, brings this festival to our attention.

Eric Conway: Morgan State University Choir Performs in Jamaica

Dr. Eric Conway, Director of the Morgan State University Choir,, writes:

Hello everyone,

This is our first communication from Jamaica.  Many of you already know that our plane had to depart from Ronald Reagan Airport in DC at 6:05 AM on Thursday, June 28, which meant that we needed to leave from Murphy at Morgan absolutely no later than 3AM, which was actually too late a departure time.  Of course my biggest concern was leaving someone behind that early in the morning.  Well, my worst fear was realized, and one choir member did not make the flight with us to Jamaica.  Thank you God for stand-by flights.  The one student did manage to get to Jamaica by himself through Miami airport. We were made whole again.

We are staying at a very fine hotel, paid for by the United States Embassy in Jamaica.  Fortunately, the schedule was not too rigorous the first day and everyone is well rested. 

Our first concert was at the Institute of Jamaica, almost as old as Morgan, founded in 1879.  Before we began, we experienced some of the almost third-world conditions that exist here in Jamaica, in when we arrived at the school, the electricity just went down.  Just about everyone in Jamaica has a generator, except for this school.  We planned to use our electric keyboard, but fortunately, there was a relatively in-tune piano on the premises.  Just before the concert began, the electricity cut back on and we were ready to go!  We had a very good concert and Ambassador Bridgewater, herself was in attendance.  She wanted to hear our full concert despite the fact that we are invited to sing for her at her residence during her 4th of July bash, where only the most important VIP's on the island will attend, given on this Monday, July 2, 2012, hours before we depart on Tuesday, July 3, at 6:40AM. 

After the concert, we were graciously invited to her residence for a meal cooked by her executive chef.  Simply scrumptious.  He prepared for us perhaps Jamaica's most popular food - jerk chicken.  In attendance were several Morgan alums - notably Minister Anthony Hylton, Minister of Industry and Commerce in Jamaica.  He is a very proud Morgan graduate who in addition to meeting with us at the ambassador's residence, provided tickets for us to attend the Jamaican Olympic trials.  Many of you already know the great competition between Jamaica and the United States in the track and field events.  For many of us, this may be the closest we physically get to an Olympic related event.  The trials were very exciting.  As a matter of coincidence, one of the best track and field participants was a cousin to our own choir member, Tristan Morris.  He won his best event - 200 meters event. 

Some how, we happen to always be in good favor.  We were glad that we had the opportunity to attend.  Please see photos attached.  More to come. . . . 

Eric Conway, D.M.A.
Fine and Performing Arts Department, Chairperson
Morgan State University

Naira Underwood, violinist, on Coleridge-Taylor work: 'it was a quite enlightening experience to be able to play such a work'

[Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912)]

A documentary promo for a March 2013 film, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor in America, has been posted on YouTube:

“Samuel Coleridge-Taylor in America, Documentary Promo (7:32)
One hundred years ago, African-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) was not only one of the world's major musical figures, he also exerted an important influence on the post-Reconstruction social politics of America as represented by such prominent African-Americans as WEB Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, numerous critics in black American newspapers, and composers and musicians writing and performing ragtime to classical.”

Those who speak on the video include Charles Kaufmann, Artistic Director, The Longfellow Chorus; Rodrick Dixon, tenor; and Naira Underwood, violinist. Ms. Underwood says “This is my first time hearing and performing any work by Coleridge-Taylor, and it was a quite enlightening experience to be able to play such a work that integrates so many different cultural elements in a classical work...”

[Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) is profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works List and a Bibliography by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, We are collaborating with the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Foundation of the U.K.,]

Friday, June 29, 2012

American Tenor Noah Stewart Releases Debut Album 'Noah' July 3 on Decca Records

Noah Stewart

From Harlem to the Royal Opera, Singer Looks to Lanza with a Program of Opera, Spiritual and Popular Favorites

"White hot talent“  The Washington Post

June 29, 2012 (New York, NY)  On July 3, 2012 Decca Records presents Noah the debut album from American tenor Noah Stewart. Born and raised in Harlem, Stewart was mentored by the great soprano Leontyne Price and the legendary Bill Cosby, the latter having sponsored the young singer during his musical training at Juilliard.  The album, Noah, includes renditions of enduringly popular arias - Bach/Gounod's Ave Maria as well as Puccini's Recondita Armoria - but also casts a wider net with inspirational input from producers and arrangers Steven Baker and Christian Seitz. The album presents Noah's rich, resonant voice in the spiritual classics Deep River and Shenandoah, This Land Is Mine and Nearer My God To Thee, the hymn played during the sinking of the Titanic. Exclusive to the American  edition is ABBA's I Have a Dream, as well as Noah’s soaring rendition of The Star Spangled Banner, which he memorably sang at the televised Chicago Bears/Tampa Bay Bucaneers NFL game at Wembly Stadium. When he was a student at New York’s renowned La Guardia High School, Noah Stewart gained some experience in the pop music industry when he sang backup for Mariah Carey at Madison Square Garden and appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman with rapper Coolio. This experience gave Noah a feel for how to tackle the pop standards that appear on this debut album, like Nights In White Satin (Notte di Luce) and Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. There's also a visit to the movies with a stirring new arrangement of the theme from Exodus

Upon the album’s UK release in April Noah debuted at #1 on the British Classical Charts (making Noah Stewart the first African American to reach that milestone).  Listeners in the US were captivated by Noah when he appeared on NPR's Weekend Edition  on June 3, and the album jumped straight to #1 on the Amazon Classical Chart the day the piece ran.  

It is hard to believe that only a few years ago Noah was a receptionist at New York’s Carnegie Hall and a clerk at the Metropolitan Opera Gift Shop, working to pay for his music education. He has since performed on stage at Carnegie Hall and is building a fine reputation as a fast-rising operatic tenor, equally accomplished in interpreting such core roles as Don José in Carmen or Rodolfo in La Bohème or pioneering new roles in contemporary opera. Noah Stewart was raised in Harlem by his mother Patricia, a single parent from New Orleans, who instilled a strong work ethic in her son. It became obvious from an early age that Noah had an extraordinary voice; while still in junior high he was chosen to sing for Audrey Hepburn and recorded voice-overs for Sesame Street. His mother’s self-sacrifice and strong belief in the value of education led to Noah enrolling in the world-famous LaGuardia High School. Noah’s mentor, the great soprano Leontyne Price, encouraged Noah to attend The Juilliard School, where he was awarded a full scholarship. Stewart participated in the prestigious Adler Fellowship at the San Francisco Opera in 2008, and has since performed with the Metropolitan Opera, Chicago Opera Theater and Michigan Opera Theater.

Noah Stewart knows that there was a time when being an operatic tenor didn't just mean performing at the opera house, but could encompass all kinds of popular and traditional songs as well. From Enrico Caruso to Luciano Pavarotti, history's classic tenors all had the popular touch. "Mario Lanza was a huge idol of mine!" declares Noah, referring to the tenor who also became a Hollywood movie star and reached global audiences with a mix of music that included operatic arias, operetta, Neapolitan songs and popular standards. "Lanza was really important because he was a legitimate singer who sang songs but also sang opera. He had tremendous vocal gifts, and he showed that in all kinds of music it's all about feeling and it's all about emotion." How appropriate, then, that Noah recently won the Mario Lanza Competition for Tenors. And Lanza himself would surely have approved of the breadth of material that Noah has chosen to sing for his debut album for Decca, not least I'll Walk With God, which Lanza sang in the movie The Student Prince.

For more information about Noah Stewart and the new album, visit and


Noah Tracklisting:
1) Cara Mia (Philharmonia Orchestra / Nicholas Dodd)
2) Deep River (Apollo Voices / Philharmonia Orchestra / Nicholas Dodd)
3) Puccini: Recondita armonia (The Vienna Session Orchestra / Johnny Bert)
4) Justin Hayward: Notte di luce, Nights In White Satin (Philharmonia Orchestra / Nicholas Dodd)
5) Youmans: Without A Song (Philharmonia Orchestra / Nicholas Dodd)
6) Leonard Cohen: Hallelujah (The Vienna Session Orchestra / Johnny Bertl)
7) Shenandoah (The City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra / Richard Hein)
8) J.S. Bach / Gounod: Ave Maria (The Vienna Session Orchestra / Johnny Bertl)
9) I Have A Dream (Benny Andersson / Bjorn Ulvaeus)
10) Brodszky: I'll Walk With God, The Student Prince(The Vienna Session Orchestra / Johnny Bertl)
11) Amazing Grace (The City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra / Richard Hein)
12) This Land Is Mine (Ernest Gold / Charles Boone)
13) The Star Spangled Banner (John Stafford Smith / Francis Scott Key)

Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival July 29-August 7, Lincoln Center, NYC

'As his youngest son I can say unequivocally that Composer Hale Smith was without equal as an Artist, husband, and father.'

[Hale Smith (1925-2009)]

Hale Smith is profiled at, which features a complete Works List by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma,

Today AfriClassical posted: "Innovative Composer Hale Smith (1925-2009) Was Born June 29."

The composer's youngest son has made a comment which we feel deserves a post of its own:

As his youngest son I can say unequivocally that Composer Hale Smith was without equal as an Artist, husband, and father. He was the most brilliant and most decent man I have ever met or ever hope to meet. America and the Arts rightly mourns the passing of this magnificent man; he was to put it simply quite irreplaceable. Yet to me he was in the end just my Pop, my Old Geezer. He was my confidant and my best friend. He will be forever missed and forever cherished in my heart.

Eric Smith
June 29, 2012 2:14 PM

Comments by email:
Thank you for the posting.
Juanita Smith

Dear Bill: Thanks for keeping Hale Smith alive to so many young people who can trace the Truth through Hale Smith’s life, music and other gifts he shared with this world. I spoke with Juanita early this morning. So I’m confident this tribute brightened her days and her memories. To know that my mentor and teacher lives on make my life worth living.  All the best…
Regina Baiocchi  

Innovative Composer Hale Smith (1925-2009) Was Born June 29

The page on the late Hale Smith, who was born June 29, 1925, was made possible by research generously provided by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma, He also compiled the complete Works List featured at

Regarding the role Hale Smith played in American music, The New York Times put it well when it titled his obituary of November 27, 2009: “Hale Smith, Who Broke Borders of Classical and Jazz, Is Dead at 84.”

“Hale Smith (1925-2009), a classical composer who also worked as a performer and arranger with jazz greats like Dizzy Gillespie and Chico Hamilton, died Tuesday at his home in Freeport, L.I. The noted composer and longtime friend of Smith, T.J. Anderson, reflects on the life of Hale Smith in New Music Box. Hale Smith was a member of the American Composers Alliance from 1958 to 1995. He served on its Board of Governors from 1966 to 1972.” T.J. Anderson began his memorial of November 30, 2009 with these words: “On November 24, 2009, America lost Hale Smith, one of its most important composers. His works musically intertwined the dialectic between African American identity and European traditions.”

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture presented “An Evening of Music by Hale Smith” on May 17, 2010. Laura Rivera wrote in Newsday that day: “Smith's wife, Juanita, 82, selected music for the program and invited Smith's former students and colleagues to perform. Violinist Sanford Allen, 71, a friend and collaborator of Smith's since the 1950s and the first African-American member of the New York Philharmonic, said that while Smith was outspoken about his theories on music and life, 'he was a man who was open to other points of view.' Smith even acknowledged preferring Allen's approach to one of Smith's own compositions, 'Epicedial Variations.'”

National Symposium on American Choral Music, Washington, DC

The American Choral Directors will host the National Symposium on American Choral Music beginning this morning, Friday June 29 in Washington, D. C. Of special note, The R. Nathaniel Dett Chorale under the conductor Brainerd Blyden-Taylor will perform on Saturday, 2 p.m. at the Library of Congress and in two performances Sunday at The Hamilton Hotel Gospel Brunch, being sponsored by the Canadian Embassy. For specifics, visit
Patrick D. McCoy
"The African-American Voice in Classical Music”

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Marcus Eley Discusses CD, 'But Not Forgotten: Music by African-American Composers for Clarinet & Piano'

[But Not Forgotten: Music by African-American Composers for Clarinet & Piano; Marcus Eley, clarinet; Lucerne DeSa, piano; Sono Luminus DSL-92156 (U.S. release date July 31, 2012)]

William J. Zick interviewed Marcus Eley by phone on June 21, 2012:

Good morning!

Hello, this is Bill Zick calling for Marcus Eley.

This is he speaking. Good morning and thank you so much for your time!
Oh, it's my pleasure! This is the first opportunity I've had to write about a clarinet and piano CD. It's not an instrument combination that has come up very often.
Well, based on the repertoire and on the reviews for this recording, we hope that that will change!
I do too. A contact in the U.K. sent an email that it was coming out there a little bit earlier than it is in the U.S.?

Yes, I found that interesting myself, because, surfing the web I saw that the recording will be released July 2 in the U.K. It won't be released here until July 31. Whenever it hits this world, that's good!
Right, I certainly agree with that! I understand you grew up in  Indianapolis?

That's correct, yes. I was born in Indianapolis and attended Indianapolis Public Schools and Indiana University. From there I studied at the Hochschule fuer Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna, Austria. I did some postgraduate work with Robert Marcellus at Northwestern University. 

I read that you and your sister took part in a radio contest for school children to identify music?
That's correct. There was a competition in the Indianapolis school system. It gave students a chance to become oriented in classical music. We would hear excerpts from records. After a perfect score of identifying ten excerpts, we would progress to the radio stage. After you got a “10” on that you would hear a live orchestra performing. In this case the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra would perform snatches from the Brahms Third, or it could have been the Grieg Piano Concerto.

You got to hear them in person, right?

Yes, you would go there as the winner of this competition, hear the concert live and have a chance to guess which movement it was and the composer. I missed one, and my sister got a perfect score and she won the prize, a recording of Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performing the Tragic Overture, and on the same side the Brahms Third or Fourth. I was very upset with that at the age of 8 or 9!

Did it help stimulate your interest?
Yes, it did! 
Doesn't the program on this recording reflect the concept of the performance that you and Lucerne DeSa gave a few years ago?
That's correct! One of the things that I wanted to do when I received the invitation to perform at the National Arts Center Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa was to present a program that would be unique, reflecting the reason that I was invited. For the first time at the festival they wanted to focus on the diaspora. Because of the uniqueness of my program, it was something that allowed me to feature women composers, African-American women and African-American composers that had never been highlighted before at the previous festivals. I thought well, since I am going to be here, and we had rehearsed the program, and we had performed it, let's record it. Before leaving I was able to find a very fine concert hall in Stellenbosch that had the time available and allowed us to give our concert there and at the same time we were performing we would be able to record the music on the concert hall stage. 
Did you bring something back?
Yes, I did! In fact it was recorded there, I then brought it back to the United States, and I had it mastered. The biggest challenge was to start trying to find a record home for this. It took quite some time. And then I was very, very conscious about trying to find the right vehicle for this. I went, and I had written and spoken with all of the major classical record companies in this country. Can I mention the names?
Yes, certainly.
From BMG to Sony Classical to Decca, Universal, Harmonia Mundi, etc. Unfortunately, after several weeks passed, I would get a phone call or a message or email saying thank you very much, but we can't find a home for it; we don't know how to place this. Nothing critical of the performances, but in fact in all cases, very fine performances, well presented and so on but the next step was going on because, even in my previous recording, I believe that because of the nature of the recording at this point it is almost incumbent to the artist to make sure that everything has been placed...
You say the previous recording; would that be the Arabesque CD called Welcome Home?
That's correct! 
Would you like to comment briefly on that one?
Again, I wanted the recording to be a potpourri of music by American composers for clarinet and piano. It included Sonata for clarinet and piano by Alec Wilder.
David Baker?
David Baker, of course!
H.T. Burleigh?
Yes! And another good friend of mine, Thom Ritter George, I met at the Sun Valley Arts Festival years ago. These were the composers I wanted, to say that this is a panorama of American composers.
Oliver Nelson and John Price?
Yes, exactly! John Price I had met some years previous and I had the pleasure of performing a recital at Auburn University and at the time, we met and talked. I had already performed his Blues and Dance I and I said if I ever get a possibility I will record your work. The mission became possible, and then I recorded it. It's angular in its compositional technique.
I haven't heard your current recording, but someone wrote a glowing review for the American Composers Alliance...
Dorothy Rudd Moore said the performance of Night Fantasy was stunning!
Well, thank you very much!

I'm just passing on what she said! 

Oh, it was very kind of Dorothy Rudd Moore! I had performed her work at the conference in South Africa. All the works in this compilation were of African-American composers. I wanted to give an overview of what it is like, because there is nothing, to my knowledge, that has a recording of this type for this instrument and these composers. I wanted to have Undine Smith Moore's work and I wanted to make sure that women composers were represented.

The program goes on to Alvin Batiste, Episodes?
Alvin Batiste was a very good friend. We had the pleasure of working with Alvin on different occasions. This music Episodes is a part of a larger piece for clarinet, string quartet and jazz trio, which Alvin and I will perform on the next recording, which will be the music by Black composers or African American composers for chamber music setting. First you have the clarinet and piano, then you have the larger chamber music.
Then you have Clarence Cameron White, The Basque Folk Song?
Yes, that has not been recorded. That is something I think is from the middle part of his compositional life. All these pieces on the recording reflect the composer's passion for the instrument and the setting, particularly The Basque Folk Song. The same thing is true with the Romance composed by William Grant Still which I had found out was originally a dynamic piece for alto saxophone. As I listened to it as I was reading the score, I thought this would work really well with the clarinet. As I mentioned in the program notes, it is a song without words, and it has a very nice melody which is typical of William Grant Still.
I see the program goes on with another woman, Undine Smith Moore?
Undine Smith Moore has been, throughout her compositional life, someone who wanted to show her love for the spiritual, and also her work for choral writing. I remember when I first got the work from her she said this is one of my earliest pieces for clarinet, and it was Introduction, Allegro and Fugue, so one other piece if I'm not mistaken. I remember the discussion very briefly. This piece, again, is one of the pieces which work well for the instrument. It allows one to see what Undine Smith Moore has done outside of her area. Her instrumental writing is very interesting, and challenging!

A fascinating choice I haven't seen before, Samuel Akpabot?

This is from a larger piece.

Scenes from Nigeria?
Exactly! This particular excerpt from the piece features the clarinet. He rewrote this for clarinet and piano. I think I found this piece at Indiana University School of Music. It's a piece that's very melodic. Its titled Pastorale; it's a lullaby type of song which puts it in a very tranquil and relaxed mood. This is one of his pieces that I wanted to include. For an African composer, you don't see that many pieces for traditional wind instruments in Western compositional technique.

I see you go on then to Quincy Hilliard?


You chose his work Coty?

Yes, I did. A friend of mine knew Coty. He said Quincy is a very fine composer; this is a piece for clarinet you should look at. This is a friend of mine from the Indianapolis Public Schools who knew Quincy Hilliard. When I got the piece from him, I thought it was quite interesting. It is something that could definitely work well in any recital setting for clarinet. The second movement is something that I think is very interesting and yet passionate. The last movement, which is something that I remember from playing it in South Africa, reminds one of the Mission Impossible theme.

Is that right!
In the ostinato; when you listen to it you'll hear it. What makes it very interesting is what Mr. Hilliard does in the clarinet part. It's the movement that is the most virtuosic for the instrument. There are things that require a lot of technique and use of different types of control of the instrument. It's a fun piece; I think you'll enjoy it! It reminds me of that period, and it works well!
You have Scott Joplin represented here?
With Weeping Wilow, A Ragtime Two-Step?
Exactly! This piece is something that I have done many times as an encore. Not many people know this piece! It's one of the pieces that are arranged to give the clarinet a prominent voice but then still goes back to what Mr, Joplin said, that a rag should be played not very fast, and that it's much more dignified than what people frequently think of when they think of the rag. This one I wanted to have a very stately approach to a genre that many people feel should be played very quickly. The Weeping Willow was something that I felt works well on the instrument.
The piece that follows is Todd Cochran's Soul Bird?
Exactly! This was commissioned from Mr. Cochran. Todd, a good friend, lives here in the Los Angeles area, and has done much work as a jazz pianist and also as a film composer. When I approached him I said I'm going to South Africa, I really want to feature a world premiere. Would you have anything, or would you have the time to compose a piece? He graciously accepted and Soul Bird is one piece that, as I wrote in the program notes, gives one an impression of how a bird will land, a soul bird metaphorically speaking, will land and become a part of life and then flourishes and then the bird encounters the rest of his life. There are things that happen, and then he flies away before he dies.
You close the program with Amazing Grace?
Yes! This piece I have given several years ago, and and it's a great arrangement!
The arrangement by H. Stevenson?
Yes! Mr. Stevenson lives here in the Southern California area. I was able to get the piece. My friend said “Marcus, I know you can play this quite well!” I've used it as an encore. It's a composition everyone knows, but to have it performed on the clarinet gives it a different type of feeling. My hat goes off to the arrangement by Mr. Stevenson! With all these other composers, and all the works that have been played and not played, the amazing grace is that we are able to realize that there by the grace of God with all these works that the composer's art has contributed, we are able to say, that we have come, and we will survive and we will not be forgotten! 
You end with a very thoughtful and pleasant perspective!
Yes, in fact that's what I want! This is a celebration of works by composers whose voices need to be heard! They have to be heard! And they will be heard! I want in this recording to do what I can do as a performing artist to show what there is in this repertoire. Hopefully this will stir other composers, other musicians, other clarinetists to aggressively challenge the view of work. When you look at the programming of orchestral, chamber and solo recitals or concerts, you don't see this type of thing. 
You have chosen a fine record label, Sono Luminus!

Oh, thank you very much! It was a challenge trying to find a home, and I am so happy that Sono Luminus has given me this opportunity and I am sure that this will add significantly to the discography of works by African-American composers!
This is the second Sono Luminus recording that I've dealt with. The first one was the Russian Viola Sonatas of Eliesha Nelson and Glen Inanga.


Is there any concluding remark you'd like to make?
Just listen, enjoy and listen again!
Thank you very much, Marcus!
Thank you so much for allowing me to have the forum!

Sphinx Launches New Website - Visit Today!

John Malveaux on 'Young Artists Competition Finale Concert'

With free bus transportation provided by County Supervisor Don Knabe, the Los Angeles Philharmonic education program provided free admission to 42 inner city youth and 8 chaperones collected in the Central Area of Long Beach to attend the Young Artists Competition Finale Concert at the landmark Walt Disney Concert Hall on June 26, 2012. Two (2) competition winners of extraordinary achievement performed with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. A picture of diversity was achieved through the evening's host and conductor Thomas Wilkins, Music Director of the Omana Symphony and Principal Guest Conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. Hooray for the Los Angeles Philharmonic's education programs.

David E. Robinson, III: 'Urban Strings of Columbus, Ohio Performs Friday, June 29, 2012'


June 25th-29th, 2012
King Arts Complex 867 Mt. Vernon Avenue
Columbus, OH

Conducted by:
David Robinson, Founder and Director of Sinfo-Nia Youth Orchestra of Atlanta, GA

Beginners (Elementary): 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.
Intermediate/Advanced (Middle, High school): 11:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Registration Fee: $75.00

Sponsored by:
Friends of Art for Community Enrichment (F.A.C.E.)

The Urban Strings Youth Orchestra of Columbus, OH Summer Camp Grand Finale Concert, will take place Friday, June 29, 2012, 7:00 PM at the King Arts Complex (Black History Museum and Performing Arts Center) located at 867 Mount Vernon Ave., Columbus, OH 43203.  The concert is free and open to the public.  David E. Robinson III who resides in Decatur, GA is the guest conductor for their first annual one-week summer camp.  Urban Strings also operates a school-year program.  Students come from private and public schools throughout the metropolitan area.  Urban Strings is sponsored by Friends of Art for Community Enrichment (FACE) is the Program Chair. 
Mr. Robinson, the founder and artistic director of the Still Waters Youth Sinfo-Nia of Metropolitan Atlanta, Inc. has done workshops for Urban Strings including one in which Sinfo-Nia came and performed in a joint workshop/concert.  Mr. Robinson has a unique teaching style, which makes learning to play a stringed instrument a lot of fun and easy to pick up especially with his soulful variety of orchestra arrangements. 
For more information, please contact Mrs. Catherine Willis at (614) 282-7222.
David E. Robinson, III
Founder and Artistic Director
Still Waters Youth Sinfo-Nia of Metropolitan Atlanta, Inc.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Composer and Pianist George Walker, Winner of Pulitzer Prize and Aaron Copland Award, is 90

[George Walker: Great American Orchestral Works, Vol. 3; Albany Records 1334 (2012) (Cover Photo: Frank Schramm) (56:13) ]

George Walker was born 90 years ago, June 27, 1922. He is a prolific composer and pianist whose website is; he is featured at His latest recording, reviewed on AfriClassical February 26, 2012, is George Walker: Great American Orchestral Works, Vol. 3; Albany Records TROY1334 (2012).

George Walker was the first composer of African descent to win the Pulitzer prize for music, for his work Lilacs, which was inspired by a poem of Walt Whitman on the death of President Abraham Lincoln.

Upon the release of Albany TROY117 (1994), Albany Records,, remarked:
“George Walker was born in Washington, DC on June 27, 1922 of West Indian-American parentage. He graduated from high school at the age of 14, attended Oberlin College and the Curtis Institute of Music where he studied piano with Rudolf Serkin and composition with Rosario Scalero. His auspicious debut at Town Hall in 1945 was described in the New York Times as " authentic talent of marked individuality and fine musical insight...a rare combination of elegance and understanding, a technical competence and a sensitiveness rarely heard at debut recitals." Walker obtained his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from Eastman and went on to study in France with Nadia Boulanger on Fulbright and John Hay Whitney Fellowships. His compositions have been played by virtually every major orchestra and chamber orchestra in the United States. This recording uniquely showcases the pianist as composer-composer as pianist as Walker performs his Sonata No. 1.”

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) recently named its 2012 Concert Music Awards Honorees: “ASCAP Honors its distinguished member, George Walker, with the Aaron Copland Award in celebration of his 90th year and for his contribution to American music as composer, pianist, educator and exemplary musical citizen.”

Comment by email:Hello Bill, Thanks so much for posting this. It was most thoughtful of you and it is greatly appreciated.  Best regards.  George  [George Walker]

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Miami University: Undine Smith Moore's 'Daniel, Daniel Servant of the Lord' & Adolphus Hailstork's 'Ye Shall Have A Song'

[Undine Smith Moore; Adolphus C. Hailstork]

Jeremy D. Jones, DMA, Assistant Professor of Music at Miami University, 
promptly replied:

“Hi Bill, 
Thanks for your message and link to the blogspot!

“We will be singing 'Daniel, Daniel Servant of the Lord' by 
Undine Moore and 'Ye Shall Have A Song' by Adolphus 
Hailstork. Also singing 'A Jubilant Song' by 
Norman Dello Joio. 

Thanks again!

Jeremy D. Jones, DMA
Assistant Professor of Music
Miami University

Jeffrey Green: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor And The Handel Society

[Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Violin Concerto; Lorraine McAslan, violin; London Philharmonic Orchestra; Nicholas Braithwaite, conductor; Lyrita SRCD.317 (2007)]

The English historian Jeffrey Green is author of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a Musical Life, published by Pickering & Chatto Publishers (2011). He is also a Guest Blogger at AfriClassical. This is his fifth contribution.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor And The Handel Society
by Jeffrey Green
A love of music has brought together many individuals whose paths would other wise have never crossed. So it was in 1904 when London’s Handel Society appointed Samuel Coleridge-Taylor to be their conductor. He was the illegitimate son of an African doctor; the members of the Handel Society were from London’s upper crust.

A major influence in the Handel Society from the moment it was founded in 1882 was Arthur Balfour – nephew of Lord Salisbury, he became Prime Minister in 1902. Balfour’s entry in the Dictionary of National Biography notes his love of Handel’s oratorios, and his comment that Handel had possessed ‘a more copious, fluent and delightful gift of melody’ than any other composer.

Coleridge-Taylor, born in London in 1875, had studied the violin and then composition at the Royal College of Music 1890-1897, and had written Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast in 1898. This cantata for tenor, chorus, and orchestra included ‘Onaway! Awake Beloved!’— a melodic masterpiece. By 1900 the now three-part Song of Hiawatha began its decades-long position as a firm favourite of choirs all over the English-speaking world.

Members of the Handel Society were wealthy, amateur, and enthusiastic. Balfour had hosted early rehearsals, but the long-serving secretary Philip Webb (a player of the violin and the viola, not the famed architect) managed the society. The social status of the instrumentalists and singers caused difficulties for conductors. August Manns, whose Crystal Palace orchestra had long been a fixture in London’s concert world, conducted the Handel Society from 1892, is recorded as commenting

‘If I hear your first clarinet playing a wrong note, am I to call out, ‘Lieutenant-General Lord Chelmsford, G.C.B., you are playing A sharp instead of A natural’?’

After three years Manns was replaced by J. Samuel Liddle, who was replaced in 1904 by Coleridge-Taylor, who held the position until his death in 1912.

A scan of the musical press of Edwardian England reveals that the music of Handel was far from rare. There was a Handel Festival at the Crystal Palace every three years, where there were occasions when the choir for Messiah numbered four thousand – and the audience twenty thousand. The Handel Society’s programmes were quite different, and had been from the beginning.

In April 1888 the society presented Samson to eight hundred residents of the Homes for Working Girls. In February 1889 they performed in Bow, a concert witnessed by George Bernard Shaw who had made ‘a hazardous voyage to the east end [of London]’. He noted that all of the second violins were ‘beautiful young ladies’ and that the choir seemed to believe ‘that choral singing is merely a habit caught in church’. His review noted Webb’s request for tenors, horns, and a second bassoon.

A year later the society’s two hundred singers and one hundred instrumentalists presented Handel’s Incidental Music to Alceste, Mozart’s Haffner, and the Bach magnificat. At Liddle’s last concert in May 1904 they performed Jeptha. Coleridge-Taylor conducted Max Bruch’s Scenes from the Odyssey at the Queen’s Hall in May 1905. The Musical Times noted that it ‘lacked intensity of expression, the common fault of London choirs’. Shaw’s verdict was still valid.

The society’s Queen’s Hall concert on 23 May 1906 was under Coleridge-Taylor’s baton, and he conducted Dvorak’s Spectre’s Bride and the premier of his own Kubla Khan.

The Handel Society performed for fashionable London at the Queen’s Hall and St. James’s Hall, and in the semi-slum land of Bow (at the People’s Palace). Coleridge-Taylor continued the policy of reviving Handel’s works and presenting music by others. Mozart’s Requiem and Handel’s Triumph of Time and Truth were presented in early 1907 ‘with much testimony of good intention’ (Musical Times). In May the concert was ‘before a large and fashionable audience’ who listened to works by Schumann, Saint-Saens, and Dvorak. In February 1908 Handel’s Hercules was performed at the People’s Palace; in May Coleridge-Taylor conducted Dvorak’s Stabat Mater and Elgar’s From the Bavarian Highlands at the Queen’s Hall. The Musical Times critic observed

The choir of the society seems to be suffering from the usual choral difficulty in London, that of obtaining a sufficient number of male voices to secure perfect balance of parts, but under Mr. Coleridge-Taylor’s direction an effective interpretation was secured.

The February 1909 People’s Palace concert was Acis and Galatea with ‘full band and chorus’. Tickets cost three pence. The annual Queen’s Hall concert, however, had nothing Handelian: ‘indeed, nothing nearer his period was heard than Brahms’ noted the Musical News. Conducting ‘with strength and alertness’ Coleridge-Taylor directed an enlarged choir, for the New Philharmonic Society of Richmond had joined with the Handel Society to present works by Parry, Stanford, Bizet, Glinka: and Sibelius’s Finlandia.

Coleridge-Taylor conducted the Finnish masterpiece at a performance by the Croydon String-Players’ Club, augmented by seventy professional instrumentalists, in Croydon in May 1909. His conducting skills had been honed with his friends in the String-Players’ Club. He had known many of them a long time, for he had been raised by his mother and blacksmith grandfather in Croydon, within feet of a railway line, downwind of a slaughterhouse. His features proclaimed his African father’s legacy, but Dr Daniel Taylor had returned to Sierra Leone before his birth, and had died in the colonial backwater of the Gambia in 1904, having never seen his composer son. Coleridge-Taylor’s world was quite different to that of typical Handel Society members. He told his first biographer that many of the members spent their holidays in the south of France and his were taken at Westcliff-on-Sea (Southend). He mentioned that once and thereafter ‘I always avoided mention of my holidays’.

Such social distinctions, so powerful in Edwardian England, were cast aside when Coleridge-Taylor rehearsed and conducted the society.

The February 1911 concert at the Queen’s Hall included the conductor’s Bon-Bon Suite and Handel’s Spring and Summer. Fourteen months later the society’s ‘reputation for independence of choice’ was noted by the Musical Times when reviewing the May 1912 Queen’s Hall concert. Works by Beethoven, Bizet, and Schumann were included. The audience ‘as is usual at these concerts, was very numerous’. The singers showed ‘the benefits of their training at the hands of Mr. Coleridge-Taylor’. His hard work and professional skills were deeply respected.

Philip Webb, when he heard that Coleridge-Taylor had died (aged thirty-seven) in September 1912, wrote to his widow

I cannot tell you how much grieved I am at this sad and unexpected news, and how deeply I sympathise with you in your irreparable loss. It is a great loss to our Society, for your husband was an almost ideal Conductor for us, containing as he did with his great musical talent so much personal sympathy and tact. His simple and [2 words illegible] sweet disposition made him a delightful colleague to work with. I have already received several letters from members of the Society, expressing their great sorrow, and I know that relations between him and the Society generally were of a quite unusual cordiality, and that one and all will be mourning for his loss. I am sending a wreath on behalf of the Society. Believe me, yours sincerely, Philip Webb

The Handel Society continued. Its April 1913 concert had Handel’s Ode on St. Cecilia’s Day, Coleridge-Taylor’s Solemn Prelude, and the new conductor Georg (sic) Henschel’s Requiem: the choice reflecting the impact of Coleridge-Taylor’s death.

Vaughan Williams conducted from 1919 to 1921, then Eugene Goossens until 1925. Venues included the Royal College of Music, and in 1928 the London Palladium where Douglas Hopkins conducted Hercules in aid of the National Sunday League. In June 1931 the society gave a concert at University College when the Musical Times noted it existed to maintain ‘the healthy practice of performing music by amateurs’ and praised its choice of non-familiar works. Its last conductor was Reginald Goodall, whose biographer John Lucas noted disliked Handel’s music: but it paid well. One of the members remarked ‘We are gentry, not working class. It is a choir for our friends and relations’. Lucas added – ‘A large number of them lived in Eaton Square’[Belgravia].

The wealthy, high-born Britons who played and sung in the Handel Society, from those initial rehearsals at Balfour’s London home in 1882 to performances under Goodall – in Handel’s Semele in December 1938, the Chandos Te Deum and Beethoven’s seventh symphony in March 1939, and finally the May 1939 performance of Handel’s Joshua – were all having fun. They gave pleasure to London audiences. Their largesse was appreciated by Goodall and other conductors; their willingness to perform from a wide range of concert music, and to revive rare Handel, was all very praiseworthy.

Consider the changes in British society since this era: when a cabinet minister could slip out of parliament to go to a concert of Handel’s music – and a black man could direct the sons and daughters of high society in music-making of a high order.

This article is based on materials gathered for a talk, presented to the London Handel Society, St. George’s church, Hanover Square, London, on 6 May 2003. Philip Webb’s letter is in the archives of the Royal College of Music. My thanks to Oliver Davies.

[Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) is profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works List and a Bibliography by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, We are collaborating with the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Foundation of the U.K.,]