Friday, May 9, 2014

'Frances Walker: A Miraculous Journey - Coleridge-Taylor's 24 Negro Melodies' is New Short Documentary by Charles Kaufmann, The Longfellow Chorus

[Charles Kaufmann: Frances Walker, as she appears in my new short film, Frances Walker: A Miraculous Journey - Coleridge-Taylor's 24 Negro Melodies.]

The Longfellow Chorus Portland, Maine
May 9, 2014

"I had a problem years ago with communication. . . and 
I thought, 'How do you get people. . . involved?' And I 
found, you have to be involved. The performer has to be 
involved. It's like the pot is up here, and when the pot is 
ready to boil over, that's when the audience feels 
something -- when it's your emotions up to the top and 
boiling over. When I play, I have to put a tight rein on 
myself because I get emotional. . . ."

—Frances Walker, from my new short documentary, 

Frances Walker Shares Her Story on Film:
Recording Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's 24 Negro 
Melodies in 1979

Charles Kaufmann:

I have just completed a new 15-minute 
documentary compiled from my interview last week 
with pianist Frances Walker in her Oberlin, Ohio, 
home. You can view the complete 15-minute film 
contains a number of excerpts from Walker's 
groundbreaking 1979 recording of Coleridge-
Taylor's 24 piano miniatures, a collection itself 
groundbreaking when it was first published in 
Boston in 1905.

Candid, humorous, moving, and ultimately 
inspiring, Frances Walker, in her gentle, 
musical voice, expresses her views on 
Coleridge-Taylor and speaks out about her 90 
years of personal history, expanding upon the 
narrative in her autobiography, A Miraculous 
Journey (2006). 

Shortly after I met Frances Walker-Slocum at 
Oberlin College last February during the 
screening my film, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor 
occurred to me that her voice was missing from 
the film. Having been born and raised in 
Washington, DC, in the 1920s, having begun 
classical piano at a very young age in the same 
tight-knit Washington community that welcomed 
SC-T twenty years before, having made the first-
ever recording of Coleridge-Taylor's 24 Negro 
Melodies -- setting the standard for the next 35 
years -- and having nurtured numerous 
performers and composers and advocated for 
African-American fine arts, Frances Walker owns 
a remarkable part of the Coleridge-Taylor in 
America story.

Frances Walker's narrative now joins the narrative 
of the other experts in my Coleridge-Taylor 
documentary and spins off into a new 
documentary of its own, (to be expanded upon at 
a later date from material now on film). Thanks in 
no small part to cameraman John Cummings, of 
Cleveland, Ohio, who worked with me on the 

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