Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Gramophone.co.uk: 'In the composer's centenary year Andrew Achenbach celebrates Coleridge-Taylor's life and music'

[Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912): Violin Concerto, Legend, Romance; Lorraine McAslan, violin; London Philharmonic Orchestra; Nicholas Braithwaite, conductor; Lyrita SRCD.317 (2007)]

Tue 31st July, 2012

Poor Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912): in agreeing to a one-off fee of 15 guineas for the publishing rights to his 1898 cantata Hiawatha's Wedding Feast, he missed out on a fortune. In the years preceding the Great War, Novello sold in excess of 140,000 copies of the vocal score alone, the royalties from which would have secured the young composer and his growing family a far more amenable and stress-free lifestyle. 
Born in Croydon of mixed race to a doctor from Sierra Leone and English mother, young Samuel revealed a talent for the violin and, aided by a local benefactor, found himself at the age of 15 studying the instrument with Henry Holmes at the Royal College of Music. Here he also became a composition student of Sir Charles Villiers Stanford and, the following year, Novello published his anthem In Thee, O Lord.
1898 was the breakthrough year. Endorsed by Elgar as 'far and away the cleverest fellow going amongst the young men', Coleridge-Taylor was commissioned by the Three Choirs Festival to compose an orchestral work. The resulting Ballade in A minor proves a splendidly ebullient, big-hearted essay featuring a peach of a second subject. It was most warmly received by the audience in Gloucester Cathedral. However, that was nothing as to the sensational impact of the world premiere some three months later of Hiawatha's Wedding Feast. This 50-minute adaptation of words from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's The Song of Hiawatha (1855) made the 23-year-old a national celebrity overnight and its prodigal fund of melodic riches, narrative flair and sense of wide-eyed wonder never fail to captivate (try the indelible tenor aria 'Onaway! Awake, beloved!'). The cantata's runaway success (by 1904, it had chalked up well over 200 performances on both sides of the Atlantic) spawned two further settings from Longfellow's epic poem, namely The Death of Minnehaha (1899) and Hiawatha's Departure (1900), and the trilogy was published under the title of The Song of Hiawatha. Between 1928 and 1939, all three (together with the Hiawatha ballet music of 1912) were lavishly staged for two weeks every year at the Royal Albert Hall with Sir Malcolm Sargent an avuncular presence on the podium.

Coleridge-Taylor was enormously proud of his African heritage. In 1898, he collaborated with the African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar on an 'operatic romance' entitled Dream Lovers, and two years later was a delegate to the inaugural Pan-African Conference held in London. 1904 brought the first of three high-profile visits to the USA, where the composer found himself hailed as a hero among the black community in Washington, D.C. (that same city's African-American Coleridge-Taylor Choral Society had been founded three years previously). He was even received at the White House by the President, Theodore Roosevelt.

Other notable works with a black or African sensibility include the 1901 concert overture Toussaint Louverture (inspired by the eponymous black leader of the Haitian Revolution), an ambitious sequence from 1905 of 24 Negro Melodies for solo piano, Symphonic Variations on an African Air (a powerfully argued, consummately scored and deeply poignant canvas from 1906, based on the spiritual and old slave song, 'I'm troubled in mind'), and, last but not least, The Bamboula, a roistering dance rhapsody first played in June 1910 by the New York Philharmonic (whose members nicknamed its creator-conductor 'the African Mahler') and commissioned by the philanthropist Carl Stoeckel.
Do check out, too, the lovely Violin Sonata (1898) that was championed by the legendary Albert Sammons after the composer's death, as well as the vernally fresh Petite Suite de Concert (1911) – light music of the very highest quality, and crammed full of tunes that lodge themselves securely in the brain. Who knows, perhaps the centenary of his death will prompt some enterprising record company to explore more of his output: how about the shipwreck cantata Meg Blane (1902), choral rhapsody Kubla Khan (1905), incidental music to The Forest of Wild Thyme (1910), A Tale of Old Japan (a 1911 setting of his good friend Alfred Noyes's oriental poem) or his Nordic opera in three acts, Thelma (1907-09), which was finally staged last February by Surrey Opera and is reputed to contain some of his most characteristic and urgently expressive inspiration? 

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

Monday, July 30, 2012

AfriClassical.com Updates Scott Joplin Page With Discussion of 'Weeping Willow' On 'But Not Forgotten'

[ABOVE: Scott Joplin  BELOW: 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)]

Scott Joplin (c. 1867-1917) was a composer of both Ragtime and opera.  He is featured at AfriClassical.com, which has been updated to include a paragraph on his composition Weeping Willow:

Weeping Willow
Susan Curtis writes on page 94 that Scott Joplin's Weeping Willow was published in 1903.  We read on Page 147 that it was among the songs of which Joplin cut piano rolls.  Weeping Willow: A Ragtime Two-Step (2:51) has been recorded by clarinetist Marcus Eley and pianist Lucerne DeSa in an arrangement by Eley on the CD But Not Forgotten: Music by African-American Composers for Clarinet & Piano; Sono Luminus DSL-92156 (2012).  Marcus Eley writes in the liner notes:

The title, "Weeping Willow", gives one the impression of a swaying weeping willow tree in a calm breeze.  In this arrangement, the clarinet and piano alternate equally between the playful syncopated melodies.  Throughout this "Rag" the tempo is not hurried as Joplin
  instructs NOT FAST.  The stately opening melody is majestic but not pompous.  One can feel the inner pulse of each section.  Like two well-suited partners, the clarinet and piano are mindful of each step through the dance.

Williamsport Symphony Orchestra Auditions Sunday, August 26, 2012

AfriClassical.com Update on J.S. Mzilikazi Khumalo Includes Name on Music, Spirituality and Family

[J.S. Mzilikazi Khumalo Conducting (Peter Mogaki)]

James Stephen Mzilikazi Khumalo (b. 1932) has been the subject of many articles resulting from observances of his 80th birthday on June 20, 2012.  Several facts elicited by the reporting on his life and career have been noted in a revision of the J.S. Mzilikazi Khumalo page at AfriClassical.com from an article July 9, 2012 at SundayWorld.co.za:

SundayWorld paid tribute to James Stephen Mzilikazi Khumalo on July 9, 2012, shortly after his 80th birthday, celebrated June 20, 2012.  The article by Mzwandile Kabizokwakhe was entitled Up Close & Personal with James Stephen Mzilikazi Khumalo:

"It was only when I was older and I composed my first work of music that I started using Mzilikazi exclusively as my signature on my work."

Born to deeply religious parents, Andreas and Johanna, Khumalo imbibed a spirituality he has transferred to all his musical compositions from his first work Ma Ngificwa Ukufa in 1958 to his current composition Hallelujah Mdumiseni Nonke - written in the rondo style.

Khumalo, a high school teacher by training, and his wife, Ditlhare, have four children who he says are not that musical.

"My third son has a degree in music but is a church minister and my first daughter sings but is a medical doctor," he says.

AfriClassical.com Update on 'Pastorale' of Samuel Ekpe Akpabot on 'But Not Forgotten' on Sono Luminus CD by Marcus Eley and Lucerne DeSa

[TOP: Samuel Akpabot: The Odyssey of a Nigerian Composer-Ethnomusicologist (Paperback) by Godwin Sadoh  BOTTOM: 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)]

Samuel Ekpe Akpabot (1932-2000) is featured at AfriClassical.com, where his page has been updated with a new paragraph on Pastorale from Scenes for Nigeria:

The African American clarinetist Marcus Eley and pianist Lucerne DeSa, his duo partner, were invited to perform works for clarinet and piano at South Africa's premier National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in July 2009.  Along with works of African American composers,  Samuel Akpabot's Pastorale from Scenes for Nigeria (3:32) was included on the program.  After performing at the Festival, and before leaving South Africa, Eley and DeSa recorded the program at the University of Stellenbosch on July 13, 2009.  The recording is But Not Forgotten; Sono Luminus DSL-92156 (2012).  Marcus Eley writes in the liner notes:

"The composer has arranged this Pastorale section from his orchestral setting of 
Scenes for Nigeria for clarinet and piano. The Pastoral is essentially a lullaby in call response fashion.  The texture is somewhat sparse but is just right for this setting.  From its undulating rhythms and unique harmonies, this composition reminds one of an African 'pastorale' landscape."

Detroit’s Brazeal Dennard Chorale brings home medals and memories from the 2012 World Choir Games in Cincinnati

Brazeal Dennard Chorale
Representing the ‘D’ in distinguished style

DETROIT/July 30, 2012—The critically acclaimed Brazeal Dennard Chorale, directed by Dr. Augustus Hill, added another proud chapter to its musical legacy by winning gold and silver medals at the 2012 World Choir Games, which took place July 4-14 in Cincinnati.

The international event brought choral groups from across the globe to compete in 23 music categories.  The Brazeal Dennard Chorale won a gold medal in the spiritual music competition and a silver medal in the mixed chamber music category.

 “This was the ‘Olympics of Choral Music’ so the competition was extremely stiff, but the Chorale was up to the task,” said Don Robinson, executive director of the Brazeal Dennard Chorale.  “We hear the term ‘represent’ used often these days, but never was the term more fitting because the Chorale represented Detroit with pride and brought home memories that will last a lifetime.”

In addition to the Chorale’s performances during the World Choir Games, on July 9, Dr. Hill presented a symposium entitled “The American Negro Spiritual: A Gift to Choral Music.” This symposium discussed the elements and historical context of Negro spirituals, and demonstrated aspects of choral performance practices.

“The World Choir Games provided an excellent forum to convey to participating nations the beauty of our ancestors’ story through the Negro spiritual,” said Robinson, who accompanied 23 Chorale singers to the event, which attracted more than 15,000 participants representing 70 nations. 

Named after its legendary founder, the late Brazeal Dennard, the Brazeal Dennard Chorale’s mission is to “remember, discover, preserve, and share the Negro spiritual as a part of the artistic community, and to rediscover and perform significant choral works by African American composers.”  To learn more about the Brazeal Dennard Chorale please visit www.brazealdennard.org or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/brazeal.dennard.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dr. Jan Marsh discusses images of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor on display at National Portrait Gallery

[Samuel Coleridge Taylor's portrait was painted when he was about 7. Emil Hoppe photographed the composer in 1912, shortly before his death.]

Dr. Jan Marsh is on the staff of the National Portrait Gallery of the United Kingdom. Her blog describes her as “Writer and Curator author of biography and art history.”

Jan Marsh
Tuesday, 17 July 2012

COMPOSER Samuel Coleridge-Taylor died of pneumonia 100 years ago this summer – 1912 was apparently very wet and cold too. He was only 37 and although already a musical celebrity it was probably too early for a formal portrait so this small, gravely observed head study is the only painting of him. When he was about seven, he was asked to pose for a group of artists in Croydon, where he lived. He must have impressed them with his self-possession. He seems to have been one whose talents drove achievement without egotism; despite his very modest background he appears never to have doubted his life's work.

Right at the other end of his life, just a few weeks before his death, he sat to the rising photographer Emil Hoppe, who this year created striking portraits of many figures in the arts world who were making names for themselves, including Marinetti, the visiting Futurist and poseur, and Karsavina, star of the Ballets Russes. Coleridge-Taylor was still pushing forward, with a completed but as yet unstaged opera, and an orchestral work due for performance at the Proms (then held in the autumn). With Hello Ragtime and Stravinsky both on the stage, and Post-Impressionists and Fauvistes in the galleries, it was a moment of extraordinary cultural dynamism to which had he lived Coleridge-Taylor would have made a unique contribution. African themes and Gospel music were among his inspirations.

Both these works feature in a display at the NPG [Room 29] to mark the centenary. Other items include a newspaper double-spread featuring contemporary musical generations - the elders including Stanford, Parry and Elgar, the youngsters including Coleridge-Taylor and Ethel Smyth – though not Vaughan Williams or Gustav Holst, both fellow students of Coleridge-Taylor at the RCM, but who had yet to become known.

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

'TONIGHT ON ITV Sunday July 29th 7pm/ROYAL GREENWICH presented by John Sergeant' With' DIAMOND GREENWICH' of Errollyn Wallen

Featuring my work DIAMOND GREENWICH for Trinity Laban orchestra and massed choirs.  Conducted by Gerry Cornelius. 

DIAMOND GREENWICH – performed in the presence of The Queen, is featured in an ITV documentary – Royal Greenwich – presented by John Sergeant and transmitted Sunday July 29th at 7pm. Errollyn is currently putting the final touches to her works for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Paralympic Games featuring the LSO.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Violist Nokuthula Ngwenyama in 'What Makes It Great: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik' Ottawa Chamberfest 2012, Aug. 7, 10:30 PM

Tuesday, August 7, 10:30 pm
Saint Brigid's Centre for the Arts

Concert made possible in part by the Embassy of the United States.

The renowned violist Nokuthula Ngwenyama (b. 1976), http://www.ngwenyama.com/, is President of the American Viola Society and has long been featured at AfriClassical.com.]

Birmingham Times: 'I had to make a recording. I needed to document this musical journey.'

A personal mission - a musical journey.
June 28, 2012
This CD is the result of Eley's successful concerts after his appearance at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa.
"I felt excited about being in South Africa. The audiences were extremely courteous. I had to make a recording. I needed to document this musical journey." But Not Forgotten was recorded in Endler Concert Hall in Stellenbosch.

"This recording, although reflective of the collection of works for clarinet and piano by African-American composers, is merely a sample of the total body of material that has remained largely untapped."

Dali Quartet and Camp Faculty Concert is Saturday, August 4 at 6 PM

Note Revised Time For Concert

The Calico Winds Perform Works of William Grant Still and Scott Joplin at L.A. Public Library

[ABOVE: Scott Joplin  BELOW: Africa: Piano Music of William Grant Still; Denver Oldham, piano; Koch International Classics 3-7084-2H1]

John Malveaux of www.MusicUNTOLD.com writes:

The Calico Winds (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and horn) presented a program of American Music saluting the creation of the United States Constitution on July 21, 2012 at Los Angeles Central Library, Mark Taper Auditorium. The program included three movements of FOLK SUITE No. 4 by William Grant Still, arr. Adam Lesnick and MAPLE LEAF RAG by Scott Joplin, arr. Arthur Frackenpohl.

The quintet's musicians perform with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Fresno Philharmonic, Long Beach Symphony and the Pasadena Symphony. Program is free and sponsored by California Reads. 

[Scott Joplin (c. 1867-1917) and William Grant Still (1895-1978) are profiled at AfriClassical.com, which features a comprehensive Works List for William Grant Still by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, http://www.CasaMusicaledeLerma.com]

New York Times: Brooklyn String Orchestra Performs 'Beethoven, Fela Sowande and Noel Pointer'

New York Times
July 23, 2012
Nancy Bruni

The String Orchestra of Brooklyn concert in Fort Greene Park on Saturday, featuring young musicians from the Noel Pointer Foundation, did not disappoint. What a treat it was to listen to the music of Beethoven, Fela Sowande and Noel Pointer on top of the hill with the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument as a backdrop. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 came alive under the cool sky.

The evening, part of the Fort Greene Park Conservancy summer concert series, started with an instrument “petting zoo” for kids. Neighborhood children plucked or strummed violins, violas, cellos, double basses and guitars. To the delight of young concertgoers, String Orchestra of Brooklyn and Noel Pointer Foundation’s youth orchestra members answered any question.

Then it was time for the performance. The young musicians, eight to 14 years old, took their seats with the String Orchestra of Brooklyn’s members and played – side by side and bow by bow – the Danza and Roots Suites. They kept their beat and every note with helpful direction from their musical mentors and conductors, Jesse Henkensiefken and Eli Spindel.

We can all aspire to be like the passionate members of the String Orchestra of Brooklyn, who come from diverse backgrounds. The cello section includes doctoral candidates in neuroscience, architectural acoustics, psychology and classics. Violinists are also social workers, college professors and computer programmers. Other players are students, teachers and music performers.

[The Nigerian composer Fela Sowande (1905-1987) is featured at AfriClassical.com]

Patrick McCoy, D.C. Examiner: 'Soprano Leontyne Price honored in new publication by D. C. area association'

[Leontyne Price (Jack Mitchell)]

By Patrick McCoy
July 28, 2012
The legendary soprano Leontyne Price is profiled in a newly released collection recently published by the Association of Black Women Historians, based just outside of D. C. in Silver Spring. In Spite of the Double Drawbacks: African American Women in History and Culture focuses on a cross section of historic figures, the work celebrates the diverse contributions of African American women in society, despite adversity.
The book's title was inspired by the 2012 theme for Black History month, thus culminating into this important collection.

Founded in 1979, the Association of Black Women Historians (ABWH) is a dynamic network of scholars representing every region of the country. The organization's goals are to support black women in the historical profession, disseminate information by, for and about black women and promote scholarship by and about black women. We are relaunching our organization into the 21st century."

Submitted by the D. C. Performing Arts Examiner, the entry on Ms. Price begins as follows:
"Many times when the artistry of the legendary soprano Leontyne Price is mentioned, it is almost always remarked that there are not enough words to express the greatness of her talent. This particular entry does not even attempt to find all the words to capsulate this mighty opera legend, rather it seeks to resound the hymn again in praise of this remarkable woman's art."

Friday, July 27, 2012

A New Paradigm? 'But Not Forgotten' Recorded in South Africa by Clarinetist Marcus Eley, Released in U.S. by Sono Luminus

[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)]

On July 8, 2009, AfriClassical wrote of that year's National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa: “AllAfrica.com: 'African-Americans have proved their mettle as masters of the art form.'” Jeff Brukman wrote in CUE Online on 8 July 2009: “The consummate artistry of Marcus Eley (clarinet) and Lucerne DeSa (piano) makes the African-American Celebration an event to be included in your festival diary.”

But clarinetist Marcus Eley was determined that the carefully-chosen program of works of the African Diaspora for clarinet and piano would have a life beyond the National Arts Festival. He searched for a suitable venue in which the duo could record. The two musicians recorded their program on July 13, 2009 at Endler Concert Hall, University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa.  Their acclaimed 2009 concert program is now easily accessible to people around the world through the Sono Luminus CD But Not Forgotten.  We have already enjoyed a number of hearings, and look forward to many more. 

Marcus Eley's determination to record the works of several African Americans and one Nigerian before leaving South Africa reminds us of the philosophy of the African American conductor James DePreist.  Music Critic James Reel wrote a cover article on the  career of Maestro DePreist for Fanfare Magazine, Nov.-Dec., 1995. He quoted James DePreist on the subject of recording: "Recording for me is absolutely essential.  What we do as musicians normally evaporates as soon as it's created.  That's the nature of concerts."

In a more recent example of the imperative to record live performances, trumpeter Martin McCain and pianist Artina McCain, who are husband and wife, performed works of Rachmaninoff, Lebedev and Tchrepnin live on KMFA-FM, in Austin, Texas on July 25, 2012.  Dr. McCain has announced at his website that the duo will release a CD, Russian Treasures: Live at KMFA, on September 4, 2012 on the new Kairoi Music label.

A very large number of works of Composers of African Descent are seldom performed and never recorded.  The examples of James DePreist, Martin and Artina McCain, and Marcus Eley provide at least some hope that a new paradigm
may emerge to increase the share of works composed or performed by musicians of color which are recorded.

We arranged a telephone interview with Marcus Eley for June 21, 2012. A transcript was posted June 28, 2012: “Marcus Eley Discusses CD, 'But Not Forgotten: Music by African-American Composers for Clarinet & Piano.'”
A July 13, 2012 post was titled: “Greg Kostraba: Quincy Hilliard's'Coty' on WBAA-FM.” Greg Kostraba, D.M.A. is Program Director at WBAA, Purdue University. He announced that Coty by Quincy Hilliard would be broadcast later that day.
Three composers on the disc are featured at AfriClassical.com: Samuel Akpabot, William Grant Still and Scott Joplin.
Marcus Eley writes in the liner notes that Night Fantasy of Dorothy Rudd Moore (b. 1940) has a “pointillist” first movement (6:14), while the second movement (5:21) is characterized by “frenetic energy.”
Alvin Batiste (1932-2007) is represented on the CD by Episodes (2:28), which Marcus Eley writes is taken from a larger work of chamber music.
Clarence Cameron White (1880-1960) composed Basque Folk Song (2:34), a brief but attractive piece.
Undine Smith Moore (1904-1989) wrote Introduction and Allegro (2:20). Marcus Eley tells us the composer “inspired and influenced many black musicians across the United States.”
Samuel Akpabot (1932-2000) of Nigeria is the only African represented on the recording. He composed Pastorale from Scenes from Nigeria (3:32), an orchestral work according to Marcus Eley.
Quincy Hilliard (b. 1954) tells AfriClassical he had his favorite uncle in mind when he composed Coty. Its movements are Daybreak (1:36), Sunset (3:12) and Dance (1:57).
William Grant Still (1895-1978) wrote Romance, (5:13). Marcus Eley says “It is essentially a love song without words.”
Scott Joplin (c. 1867-1917) composed Weeping Willow: A Ragtime Two-Step (2:51).
Todd Cochran (b. 1951) is represented by Soul-Bird (8:26).
The recording closes with Amazing Grace (Arranged by H. Stevenson) (3:47).

Opera Australia Performs Aida, 'led by the powerful soprano of Latonia Moore in the title role.'

[Latonia Moore (Cory Weaver/Metropolitan Opera)]

John Malveaux of www.MusicUNTOLD.com sends this link:

Latonia Moore - Opera Australia

Aida is the stuff of operatic legend. Gold-clad warriors and lithe dancers traverse the stage. Pyramids loom from the shadows.  And Verdi’s moving songs tell of two peoples at war.

Graeme Murphy’s production of Verdi’s Aida is back to fill the stage of the Sydney Opera House with soaring voices and glittering pageantry. This is grand opera, writ large, brought to the stage by a master of spectacle.

Arvo Volmer, conducts a cast of blazing voices, led by the powerful soprano of Latonia Moore in the title role.

Radamès is an Egyptian warrior, Aida is an Ethiopian princess, and the two are on opposite sides of a bitter war. When they fall for each other Aida must choose between her love for Radamès, and love for her country.

An Opera Conference co-production. Performed in Italian with English surtitles
Running time: Approximately three hours and ten minutes including two twenty-minute intervals.

North-West Evening Mail: 'Musical history to be made in Ulverston' July 28

[Samuel Coleridge-Taylor; Illustration from website of Lake District Music Festival]

North-West Evening Mail

A PIECE of musical history will be made at Ulverston’s Coronation Hall tomorrow night, Saturday, July 28. For the first time in 40 years all three parts of the famous ‘Song of Hiawatha’ music trilogy will be performed in Cumbria as part of the Lake District Summer Music Festival.

Hiawatha’s three cantatas were composed by Samuel Coleridge Taylor between 1898 and 1900. The first part, Hiawatha's Wedding Feast, was particularly famous for many years and it made the composer's name known throughout the world. One of the earliest performances of the full trilogy was at the Drill Hall in Kendal in 1901 when Samuel Coleridge Taylor himself was the conductor, cementing Cumbria’s important place in the Hiawatha story.
Hiawatha was popularised in the 1930s when it sold out the Royal Albert Hall for 14 consecutive performances and was the biggest musical event of its day, with the King and Queen attending the opening night.
• "The Song of Hiawatha" Trilogy, Music by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, is the opening concert of Lake District Summer Music Festival on July 28 in the Coronation Hall, Ulverston at 7.15pm.

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

Thursday, July 26, 2012

'Verlangen' by Music@Menlo with Pianist Gloria Chien and Clarinetist Anthony McGill

John Malveaux of www.MusicUNTOLD.com sends a link to this Vimeo.com video:

Pianist and Chamber Music Institute Director Gloria Chien discusses her history with Music@Menlo, leading up to her Carte Blanche Concert collaboration with clarinetist Anthony McGill.

IWCMF 2012 Begins with Opening Concert by Imani Winds

  This Sunday, July 29, begins the 3rd annual Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival! 
The kick off concert will feature the music of Mohammed Fairouz, Phil Taylor, Derek Bermel and of course IW's own Valerie Coleman and Jeff Scott. 
Christ & St. Stephens Church  120 W. 69th St. New York City - 7PM - FREE and Open to the Public

Justin Holland, African American Guitarist, Arranger & Composer Born July 26, 1819

[Justin Holland (Photo Courtesy Douglas Back)]

On April 7, 2012 AfriClassical posted:
Virginia approves historical marker for Justin Holland (1819-1887), African American Classical Guitarist & Composer. That must be the most important development in the latest year of the history of Justin Holland. Dr. Barbara Clemenson and Dr. Kim Perlak made favorable comments by email. During the year we also posted, on February 24, 2012: Donald Sauter: “Final batch of 'Scraps From The Operas For Two Guitars By Justin Holland' on YouTube”.
“Justin Holland was born to free black parents in Norfolk County, Virginia on July 26, 1819," Barbara Clemenson writes in her article Justin Holland: Black Guitarist in the Western Reserve. Guitarist Douglas Back has made a recording which includes five works of the composer, American Pioneers of the Classic Guitar, Mento Music Press SMM 3023 (1994). It can be ordered at his website, http://www.DouglasBack.com

The CD liner notes by Douglas Back tell us of two separate periods during which Justin Holland was a student at Oberlin College in Ohio, first for a year in 1841, when he was 22, and later for a shorter time in 1845. Douglas Back writes: “After returning to Oberlin in 1845, Holland married and soon moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he established himself as a teacher of guitar, mandolin, piano and flute, becoming the city's first black professional.” “Between the years 1848 and 1854 Holland participated as an assistant secretary and member of council at National and State Negro Conventions, where he worked alongside such noted activists as Frederick Douglass. He is known to have worked with the Underground Railroad...”

The liner notes continue: “Although Holland seldom performed in public, he developed a national reputation as a composer and arranger for the guitar. To the average amateur guitarist of the day, his numerous arrangements made his a household name. Of his approximately 350 published works for the guitar, which include two acclaimed methods, only about one-third are extant.” “Justin Holland died at his son's home in New Orleans, Louisiana, on March 24, 1887. His son, Justin Minor Holland and daughter, Claire Monteith Holland were also accomplished guitarists...” [Justin Holland is profiled at AfriClassical.com]

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

John McLaughlin Williams Conducts 1944 Film Theme 'Laura' by David Raksin, in Sofia, Bulgaria

          Published on Jul 25, 2012 by
The timeless theme composed by David Raksin for the 1944 film "Laura", with the Classic FM MTEL Orchestra conducted by John McLaughlin Williams in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Laura - Theme by David Raksin (6:27) on YouTube

Reminder: The Harlem Chamber Players in Free Outdoor Concert Friday, July 27, 2012 at Noon

Free Outdoor Concert
Summer on the Hudson Lunchtime Listen Series
Featuring The Harlem Chamber Players
with Conductor Tali Makell
Friday, July 27, 2012 at 12 Noon
West Harlem Piers Park
130th and the Hudson
Mozart and Beethoven Wind Serenades
Mozart Serenade in E-flat Major, K. 375
Selections from Mozart Così fan tutte arranged for Wind Octet
1st Movement from Beethoven Wind Octet in E-flat Major

'Scott Joplin Treemonisha' is Stereophile Recording of the Month of August 2012

Recording of the Month
Recording of August 2012: Joplin: Treemonisha
  Jul 25, 2012
Joplin: Treemonisha
Anita Johnson, soprano; AnnMarie Sandy, mezzo-soprano; Chauncey Packer, Robert Mack, tenors; Edward Pleasant, high baritone; Darren Stokes, Frank Ward Jr., basses; others; Paragon Ragtime Orchestra and Singers, Rick Benjamin
New World 80720-2 (2 CDs). 2012. Judith Sherman, prod., eng. DDD. TT: 99:06
Performance ****
Sonics *****
The great ragtime composer Scott Joplin had grander ambitions than just the magnificent miniatures for piano he's famous for. When he died, in 1917, he had spent much of the previous 10 years polishing and campaigning for his full-length opera, Treemonisha, the piano-vocal score for which he had published in 1911. Joplin had studied classical composition and notation with a German scholar who had happened to settle in his hometown of Texarkana, Arkansas; lore has it that Julius Weiss gave young Joplin lessons in exchange for Mrs. Joplin's services as a laundress. Treemonisha is through-composed, with sophisticated harmonies clearly influenced by European teachings, but it also incorporates early-jazz beats, proto-blues sounds, odd syncopations, occasional Victorian-type ballads, African-American folk and pop music, and moments that recall field hollers and revival meetings—in short, all of the music of the Black experience in America is represented. The amalgam is strange, wonderful, and vastly entertaining. Treemonisha is also the only extant opera concerned with the post–Civil War African-American experience written by someone who had experienced it firsthand. Joplin also wrote the libretto, which is stunningly naãve; the opera will never be confused with a masterpiece (it's no Boris Godunov or Don Giovanni), but it's an instant pleasure, and the more one listens, the richer it gets. And as a historical document, it's crucial.

This is not Treemonisha's first recording. In 1975, Gunther Schuller orchestrated the work Ö la grand opera, and it was presented at the Houston Grand Opera to great critical acclaim; indeed, I still love that recording, which Schuller conducted. But on this new set, conductor and scholar Rick Benjamin has attempted to perform the opera as it would have been heard 100 years ago, using what was then colloquially known as "eleven + pno": flute (doubling piccolo), clarinet, two cornets (in place of trumpets), trombone, violin, viola, cello, double bass, period percussion, and piano. (Schuller used a banjo as well; Benjamin does not, arguing that Joplin would not have wanted anything so closely related to the minstrel tradition.) This does wonders for the work: where Schuller gave us big, rockin' effects, Benjamin offers transparency that allows Joplin's tunes to emerge, and makes the recitatives (there is no spoken dialogue) less stilted and more human.