Saturday, February 28, 2015

Center for Black Music Research: National Endowment for the Arts: Art Talk with Jonathan Bailey Holland:

Jonathan Bailey Holland 
(Sancho Maulion/New York Times)

A tweet from the Center for Black Music Research alerted us to an interview with Jonathan Bailey Holland, who has been featured in AfriClassical a number of times, with the National Endowment for the Arts:

The arts] are a place where we reflect the world around us, and it's the one place that anybody can do that, honestly and, hopefully, in an uncensored way.” – Jonathan Bailey Holland

Jonathan Bailey Holland may be known as a classical composer but he's been influenced by everyone from NEA Jazz Master Wynton Marsalis to legendary rap group Run DMC to 70s rock stalwarts Chicago. A native of Flint, Michigan, Holland has received commissions from the National Symphony, the Detroit Symphony, and the Chicago Sinfonietta, to name just a few orchestras. He has written a ballet (for the Dallas Symphony and the Dallas Black Dance Theater) and musically mused on everything from Chicago's storied architecture to the history of the Underground Railroad. Holland holds degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music and Harvard University, and he teaches at the renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston. Holland has commissions upcoming from the Cincinnati Symphony and Left Coast Ensemble and most recently he's completed a work for orchestra, titled Elegy for Humanity, written, he explains,"partly in response to all the injustices and atrocities we continue to hear about in the news these days." We spoke with Holland via telephone about inspiration, failure, and his 2015 cultural resolutions.
NEA:  What was your road to becoming a composer?
JONATHAN BAILEY HOLLAND:  There was always music at home when I was a kid, and I often talk about my dad's eclectic record collection, where he had everything from Lou Rawls to Nat Adderley to Miles Davis to Bootsy Collins to Handel's Fireworks. I always remember getting excited when I would listen to his records, and my mom also played piano just for her own enjoyment…. As a little kid, I would always sit at the piano and kind of make up songs, and then I eventually started taking instrument lessons, piano lessons, and trumpet lessons…. I ended up going to Interlochen Arts Academy for high school, which was great, and started doing some composition while I was there, and this was a kickoff for me, and I’ve just been going since.
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