Monday, November 23, 2020

John Malveaux: Early Music Access Projects new virtual series, Expanding the Narrative, aims to center Black Music and musicians in the story of early America

John Malveaux of writes:

Early Music Access Projects new virtual series, Expanding the Narrative, aims to center Black Music and musicians in the story of early America Curtis Institute names pianist Michelle Cann to new chair honoring legendary professor Eleanor Sokoloff

Michelle Cann
(Jiyang Chen)

by Peter Dobrin

November 17, 2020

The Curtis Institute of Music has created a position in honor of Eleanor Sokoloff, the legendary piano professor who taught at the school for more than eight decades, and the school has named Philadelphia pianist Michelle Cann to fill the spot.

The 2013 Curtis graduate takes up the inaugural Eleanor Sokoloff chair in piano studies with duties she expects to begin in the new year. Sokoloff died in July at age 106.

Cann will teach private lessons as well as coach chamber music, and said Tuesday that she hopes her role will be even more expansive. Nothing is set, but she envisions making mentorship connections between Curtis students and young musicians in the city.

She also hopes to broaden the career-soloist mind-set with which some students enter Curtis.

 “The world is really changing, and I think it’s extremely important to be more than great pianists who sit in the practice room for hours to win a competition and get a solo career,” said Cann. “That’s not to say that that work isn’t important, but we are at a point for every conservatory to take it much farther than that. It’s important for Curtis students to be much more well-rounded.”

Cann, 33, has performed with the Florida Orchestra and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and in early 2021 is slated as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra in its first performance of Florence Price’s Concerto in One Movement.

John Malveaux: Palm Beach Opera has announced its star-studded, outdoor 2021 Festival which will take place at the South Florida Fairgrounds

by David Salazar

November 17, 2020

Palm Beach Opera has announced its star-studded, outdoor 2021 Festival which will take place at the South Florida Fairgrounds’ iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre.

The festival will kick off with Puccini’s “La Bohème” starring Michael Fabiano as Rodolfo, Latonia Moore as Mimì, Isabel Leonard as Musetta, Quinn Kelsey as Marcello, Ryan Speedo Green as Colline, and Samuel Ramey as Benoit / Alcindoro. James Robinson will direct the production with David Stern at the podium.

Performance Dates: Feb. 19, 24, 2021

Sterna and Robinson will also team up for “Die Zauberflöte” starring Janai Brugger, Matthew Polenzani, Joshua Hopkins, Morris Robinson, Kathryn Lewek, Patricia Westley, Shannon Jennings, Ryan Speedo Green, Jenny Anne Flory, and Avery Amereau, among others.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Free Directories of Classical Music Written by Black Composers, including Repertoire for Violin and Orchestra, Launched by Music by Black Composers



CHICAGO –  The not-for-profit Rachel Barton Pine (RBP) Foundation’s Music by Black Composers (MBC) project has launched its first free online directories of classical music written by Black composers: Repertoire for Violin and Orchestra, and Repertoire for Unaccompanied Solo Violin. MBC works to rectify historic and ongoing racial injustices in the classical music sphere.

MBC’s repertoire directories establish a central location for existing music by Black classical composers. They are a free resource for performers, conductors, concert programmers, students, and teachers seeking existing music, as well as for researchers and scholars of classical music. Whenever possible, the directories include instrumentation, length, links for acquiring the sheet music, links to recordings, and other helpful information to aid in programming. Additionally, the works in the directory for violin and orchestra are sortable by piece (composition date, orchestration, length) and composer (gender and geographical region). Built to be ever-expanding, MBC asks that users alert them as to any missing works by emailing

“We’ve been hearing from conductors and orchestra managers who want to diversify their programming, but they do not have a definitive list of what repertoire exists and where to find it. MBC has created these directories so that anyone, anywhere can learn about repertoire by Black classical composers, get the music, and program it. Our team is really excited for conductors, orchestras, and soloists to start discovering these incredible concertos and concert works. It’s our hope that these compositions will become part of our standard repertoire, as they should have been all along,” says Pine, a leading violin soloist, who is president of RBP Foundation and Executive Editor and Music Editor for MBC. Pine and Megan E. Hill, Ph.D., Managing Editor, Head Researcher and Writer for MBC, compiled and edited the directories.

The directory of Repertoire for Violin and Orchestra currently features 38 compositions by 19 composers (four women and 15 men), which were composed between 1773 and 2020. In contrast, the website most frequently used by conductors, orchestra administrators, and librarians, Daniels' Orchestral Music Online, only includes 15 works by seven Black composers (two women and five men). 

The directory of Repertoire for Unaccompanied Solo Violin currently features 36 compositions by five women and 23 men, which were composed between 1868 and 2020. The category of Unaccompanied Solo Violin is defined as works intended for a solo performer. The vast majority are unaccompanied, but may include electronics, narration, or other auxiliary actions performed by the soloist.

MBC is currently working on further directories of music for violin and piano and music for multiple violins. In addition, MBC is collaborating with colleagues to build directories of music for viola, cello, bass, string quartet, piano, organ, recorder, school band, school orchestra, and symphony. 

MBC also aspires to function as a hub for existing resources by linking to directories created by others. A directory of Repertoire for Classical Guitar, compiled by Ciyadh Wells and Neil Beckmann, is now linked to MBC’s website. It includes data about sheet music, recordings, composers’ biographies, composition length, and the year written. The works are categorized as chamber classical guitar, solo electric guitar, chamber electric guitar, solo “other plucked string,” and chamber “other plucked string” music. The directory features 139 compositions by four women and 16 men, which were composed between 1973 and 2020.

MBC’s repertoire directories serve as companion resources to MBC’s free, sortable directories of Living Black Classical Composers (currently more than 300) and Historic Black Classical Composers (currently more than 150). These directories are one of the ways MBC makes the music of Black composers available to everyone, so that it may bring greater diversity to the ranks of classical music performers, composers, and audiences. 

In 2018, MBC published MBC Violin Volume I, the first in a series of pedagogical books of music exclusively by Black classical composers; The Rachel Barton Pine Foundation Coloring Book of Black Composers featuring 40 prominent Black composers from around the world; and a timeline poster featuring more than 300 Black composers spanning four centuries. MBC Violin Volume IIand MBC Carillon Volume Iare currently being edited for publication.

Currently, the Music by Black Composers website hosts a number of free resources aimed at spreading awareness of classical music written by Black composers. There is a list of children’s books about Black classical music making, a bibliography of reference books on Black classical music composers, a discography of works by Black classical composers, and a list of podcasts and radio programs that celebrate Black composers. The website also offers Digital Resources for MBC’s instrument books which include recordings (audio and video) for each published piece to help students learn to play the music, and many links for further reading about the article topics featured in the books. For more information about other current resources and future plans, please visit MBC’s Projects Timeline
MBC’s Board of Advisors includes Aaron Dworkin, Sphinx Organization Founder; Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE, double bassist and founder of Chineke!; Lee Koonce, President & Artistic Director, Gateways Music Festival; Mike Wright, Founder and Chair, International Society of African to American Music; Henry Fogel, Dean of Roosevelt University’s College of Performing Arts; Toni-Marie Montgomery, Dean of the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University; Dr. Fred “FredO” Onovwerosuoke, composer; conductors James Blachly, Philip Greenberg, and Michael Morgan; pianist Awadagin Pratt; violinists David Caines Burnett, Terrance Gray, Mariana Green-Hill, Ed Kreitman, Diane Monroe, Arnold Steinhart, and Almita Vamos; violists Robert Fisher and Dr. Juliet White-Smith; cellists Dr. Tanya L. Carey and Anthony Elliot; Dr. Barbara Wright-Pryor, Former President, Chicago Music Association, Branch No. 1, NANM, Inc.; Sheila A. Jones, Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association and Director of Community Stewardship/African American Network; historian and journalist William J. Zick; and Lee Newcomer, owner of Performers Music.

Serving on the Honorary Board for MBC are trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis, violinist Joshua Bell, actor Leslie Odom, Jr., jazz bassist and composer Stanley Clarke, mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, pianist and composer Billy Childs, television commentator Gretchen Carlson, pianist and pedagogue André Watts, Kevin Sylvester, and Wilner Baptiste from Black Violin, and violinist and composer Daniel Bernard Roumain. 
The idea for MBC started with a recording Rachel Barton Pine made for Cedille Records in 1997 titled Violin Concertos by Black Composers of the 18th and 19th Centuries. The album contains historic compositions by Afro-Caribbean and Afro-European composers from the Classical and Romantic eras that had long been underrecognized. Soon after its release, Pine found herself sitting on diversity panels and receiving numerous inquiries from students, parents, teachers, and colleagues about where to find more works by Black composers. She quickly discovered that much repertoire by Black composers is out of print or only exists in manuscript. So, in 2001, her not-for-profit Rachel Barton Pine Foundation committed to its Music by Black Composers project. Over the past two decades, MBC has collected 900+ works by more than 450 Black composers from North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania, written by men and women from the 18th to the 21st centuries.
Pine is an award-winning, chart-topping violinist who performs with the world's leading orchestras and has recorded 39 acclaimed albums. Her performances are heard on NPR and stations around the globe. She has appeared on The Today ShowCBS Sunday MorningCBS News, CNN, PBS NewsHour, and has been featured in the Wall Street JournalThe Los Angeles TimesThe New York Times, and in media outlets around the world. In addition to the MBC project, the RBP Foundation assists young artists through its Instrument Loan Program, Grants for Education and Career, and Global HeartStrings, which supports musicians in developing countries.

For more information, please visit, and

Arts Engines: Aaron Dworkin With Career Coach Ashley Hall

Aaron Dworkin sits down with Ashley Hall, Career Coaching Manager and Professor of Trumpet at the Longy School of Music to discuss preparing musicians for success in an evolving arts world

Produced in partnership with the Detroit Public Television, Ovation TV, American Public Media and The Violin Channel, each episode highlights the perspectives of the thought leaders and game-changers who are creating significant impact in the field of the arts.

“I hope that what this time does for us is blows open these myopic views of success that we have sort of held on to, and help us all as artists to go deep into What is my unique contribution?" Ashley Hall said. "What will I contribute? What will my voice look like?” Ashley Hall, Career Coaching Manager and Professor of Trumpet at the Longy School of Music speaks about preparing musicians for success in an evolving arts world."

John Malveaux: Soprano Latonia Moore and pianist Roberto Berrocal in "A Christmas Concert" in St. Hugh-Steinway Concert Series Fri. Dec. 4, 8pm EST

 John Malveaux of writes:

Please join Soprano Latonia Moore and pianist Roberto Berrocal for the St. Hugh-Steinway Concert Series featuring opera and Christmas favorites streamed LIVE on Friday, December 4th, 8pm EST!   

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Sphinx Organization: Announcing the 24th Annual Sphinx Competition Semi-Finalists

 Meet the 2021 Sphinx Competition Semi-Finalists! 

In partnership with the DTE Energy Foundation, we will welcome 18 of the nation’s top young string players to compete at the 24th Annual Sphinx Competition.

Honors Concert 
Friday, January 29th at 12pm ET (Live-Streamed) 
Junior Division finalists compete for the top $10,000 prize.

Finals Concert
Saturday, January 30th at 7:30pm ET (Live-Streamed) 
Senior Division finalists compete for the top $50,000 Robert Frederick Smith prize and solo appearances with major orchestras. 

Monday, November 16, 2020


DECEMBER 6, 2020 at 7pm EST

Dedications to be made at December benefit

November 16, 2020

Brooklyn, NY -The American Opera Project announces fermata, a virtual benefit to be held on Sunday, December 6th at 7pm EST. Soprano Angel Blue and producer Charles Jarden will be honored for their contributions to the world of opera and their communities.

Attendance at the benefit is free ($40 suggested donation) for the 7pm event, hosted by Jorell Williams, and limited spots are available for a 6pm VIP pre-show experience.

fermata will be a celebration of music and two honorees: Metropolitan Opera soprano and founder of the non-profit organization Sylvia’s Kids Foundation, Angel Blue, the recipient of our first ever Van Blazer award and the enduring legacy of AOP’s own Charles Jarden. Created in 2020 to honor a vanguard trailblazer changing the way opera is made and experienced, the Van Blazer award celebrates an iconoclastic artist who has fostered resiliency and inclusivity within their communities by the very way they have shaped their life and career. 

The evening will also include special appearances by legendary soprano Lauren Flanigan and superstar countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, as well as introductions to the many operas currently being created at AOP.

A contribution of $500 or higher grants access to a special VIP pre-show experience at 6pm, featuring a choreography session with acclaimed ballet dancer and Associate Artistic Director of the New York City Ballet Wendy Whelan, an interactive culinary class with chef Tyler Kord of No. 7 restaurants, a communal musical moment with soprano Adrienne Danrich, a song lyric writing workshop with librettist Mark Campbell, a world premiere by composer/performer Gilda Lyons, and more special guests, auction items, toasts and surprises.  

Join us for this exclusive portion of the evening, where we will announce AOP’s inaugural Artistic Advisory Council, led by Council Director and composer Laura Kaminsky, and raise glasses to our beautiful and resilient community.

For more information, or to reserve your ticket, visit


Angel Blue has emerged in recent seasons as one of the most important sopranos before the public today. On September 23, 2019 she opened the Metropolitan Opera’s 2019/2020 season as Bess in a new production of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. These performances follow her internationally praised French Opera debut and role debut as Floria Tosca at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in July of 2019. Earlier, Ms. Blue made her debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Violetta Valery in La Traviata, after which she returned to the Teatro alla Scala in Milan in the same role. She has also been praised for performances in many other theaters, such as the Vienna State Opera, Semperoper Dresden, San Francisco Opera, Seattle Opera, Theater an der Wien, Oper Frankfurt, San Diego Opera and many others.

Alongside her musical activities, Angel Blue, who was raised in California and completed her musical studies at UCLA, is dedicated to the support of inner city youth. She is the founder of the non-profit organization Sylvia’s Kids Foundation, an organization that is dedicated to helping America’s teenagers continue their studies in either a trade school, community college, or four-year university once they have completed high school. The SKF scholarship award is given every year in the month of May. To learn more about Sylvia’s Kids Foundation visit


Jorell Williams is an American operatic baritone with a wide variety of experience from standard repertoire to premiere pieces. He begins the 2020-2021 season with world premieres of Hilliard and Boresi's The Happy Hour and Rachel Peters' Everything comes to a head with The Decameron Opera Coalition / Lyric Opera of the North featuring Bass-Baritone Luca Pisaroni, In Real Life II by Robert Paterson and David Cote in his debut with the American Modern Ensemble, Kamala Sankaram's Only you will recognize the signal with HERE Arts Center, his company and role debut of Don Giovanni with Opera Columbus, and the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon and Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel with The Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center Theater.

A former resident artist of The American Opera Project's Composers and the Voice series from 2011-2014, Jorell is a much in demand interpreter of contemporary opera, and has created roles in several world premieres, notably: Hilliard and Boresi’s Blue Viola with Urban Arias; Matt Aucoin’s Crossing with the American Repertory Theater; John David Earnest’s The Theory of Everything with Encompass New Opera Theater; Anthony Davis’ Lear on the Second Floor at the University of San Diego; John Musto’s Bastianello with Rochester Lyric Opera; and workshops of Michael Torke’s Senna (2010), Nico Muhly’s Two Boys (2011), and Ricky Ian Gordon’s Intimate Apparel (2018) with The Metropolitan Opera. Jorell is a recipient of the 2018 Rochester Classical Idol XII Top Prize and Audience Choice awards, and garners top awards from the Gerda Lissner International Competition, Schuyler Foundation for Career Bridges, Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation, The American Prize, Serge Koussevitzky Foundation, David Adams Art Song Competition, The American Traditions Competition, Civic Morning Musicals Foundation, Harlem Opera Theater, the National Association of Negro Musicians, and the Liberace Foundation.

For more information, visit:

Annamarie Ewing: Black Classical Musicians

Julian Joseph: Tristan and Isolde
recorded at London's Royal Festival Hall
Released on 12 November 2020
Available for 25 days
BBC Radio 3, BBC Concert Orchestra

Annamarie Ewing of BlackClassics in the UK forwards the above performance link, which is still available for listening, and writes about Britain's Black History Month in October:

Dear Friends

This year's Black History Month has educated and entertained us with so much good music that I dare to believe that we may at last have completed our long uphill journey (struggle!) from 'raising awareness' of classical musicians of African-Caribbean heritage past and present, to establishing our ongoing presence on the world stage (on and offline!) and preparing the way for the future. We've come such a long way since BlackClassics here in the UK in 2008 and [in 2000] in the US!  So proud!

Annamarie Ewing