Thursday, January 7, 2016

Ulysses Kay, African American Composer, Conductor and Professor Was Born January 7, 1917; His Diverse Output Includes 5 Operas and Film and TV Scores

Ulysses Kay (1917-1995) is profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works List and a  Bibliography by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma,

The International Dictionary of Black Composers  gives this overview of Kay's output as a composer:
Ulysses Kay composed approximately 140 musical compositions for orchestra, chorus, chamber ensembles, piano, voice, organ, and band, and he wrote five operas as well as scores for film and television.  Kay’s works appear in numerous published editions and on approximately 21 recordings.  Avoiding obvious musical references to his ethnicity, Kay preferred to immerse himself in compositional procedures that were a natural outgrowth of his educational and international experiences.   According to Robert D. Herrema, “Kay believes that a composer is the product of his extraction and environment as well as his political and ethnic interests, but should not be limited by them.”  In spite of these reservations, however, Kay incorporated the use of black spirituals in the opera Jubilee (1974–76) and in his last opera, Frederick Douglass  (1979–85), treated the life of the legendary abolitionist.
Comments by email:
1) Hello Bill! Thank you so much! I'm copying my sisters here​ to enjoy this lovely surprise  as well. A wonderful 2016 to you and to AfriClassical, Virginia [Virginia Kay]
2)  Bass-Baritone Kevin Deas and pianist Victor Simonson performed an aria from Kay's opera JUBILEE during the concert to celebrate 150th anniversary of
13th amendment abolition of slavery on November 21, 2015 at DAR Constitution Hall. A video of the performance is forthcoming. [John Malveaux]
3)  Wow, it all came thru! Congratulations, John. I look forward to the video.
Happy 2016, Virginia [Virginia Kay]

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