Thursday, December 11, 2014 La Jolla Symphony & Chorus: Beethoven’s ‘Ninth’ and ‘Afro-American Symphony’ share program [Dec. 12, 13 & 14 UC San Diego]

"William Grant Still (1895-1978) wrote more than 150 compositions. He is often referred to as ‘the Dean’ of African-American composers."
(La Jolla Light)

William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works List by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma,

"Steven Schick conducting La Jolla Symphony & Chorus."
 (La Jolla Light) 

By LJS&C Reports 12:26 p.m. Dec. 11, 2014

In December 1989, Leonard Bernstein led an international orchestra in a performance of Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony” on the ruins of the Berlin Wall, which had just been demolished. The La Jolla Symphony & Chorus (LJS&C) marks the 25th anniversary of that historic concert with a performance of Beethoven’s grandest symphony — one of the best-known works in classical music — in the second concert of its 60th anniversary season, “The Nature of Things,” Dec. 12, 13 and 14 in Mandeville Auditorium at UC San Diego.

However, the concert will open with a different declaration of freedom: William Grant Still’s “Afro-American Symphony,” written in 1930, and the first significant symphony by an African-American composer. Nearly a century later, it remains a compelling piece of music. LJS&C music director Steven Schick will conduct orchestra, chorus and soloists Natalie Mann (soprano), Peabody Southwell (mezzo-soprano), Enrique Toral (tenor), and Ron Banks (bass) in three performances.

Its premiere in October 1931 by the Rochester Philharmonic, made it the first symphony by an African-American composer to be performed by a major American orchestra. The symphony’s success did not end there. Performances of the new work quickly followed by orchestras across the country, and in Europe, by the Berlin Philharmonic.

Comments by email:

1) Unfortunately, this post came after the performance. I would have traveled from Long Beach to La Jolla for the concert. John  [John Malveaux]

2) So glad to know of this, Bill--many thanks.  [Judith Anne Still]

3) My best recollection is a high school orchestra performance the Still Symphony a couple of years ago in La Jolla. [John Malveaux]

4) I am glad that you and Bill keep up on these performances for us--that's marvelous.  [Judith Anne Still] 

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