Monday, October 18, 2021

New CD Release: Maria Thompson Corley: "Soulscapes 2: Piano Music by Women of African Descent" due out in November on MSR Classics

Soulscapes 2:
Piano Music by Women of African Descent
MSR Classics

Dear Bill,

My new CD, Soulscapes 2, will be released in November. 

I practiced way too much overly difficult repertoire for what seemed like an endless stretch, but then again, I was never bored during the pandemic, so there's that...

As you can see, the cover is attached.


Eric Conway: Morgan choir sings national anthem at Ravens game against the Chargers!


Dr. Eric Conway writes:

Hello Morgan Fine Arts Community,

Given that Morgan State University was a proud sponsor of the Baltimore Ravens football game today against the Los Angeles Chargers, the MSU choir sang the national anthem for the game!   Surprising to most, this was the first time the Morgan choir had ever sung the anthem for a Ravens game.  Given NFL policy states that all persons must sign an affidavit positively affirming COVID vaccinated status, I had the task of picking fifteen choir members from the hundred plus on the choir, who could comply with the NFL COVID policy.

We left campus at 9AM to arrive early for a soundcheck before the stadium opened to the public!  Upon arrival we were given Ravens credentials to get onto the field.  We had to be off the field by 10:30AM for both teams to take field for their warm-up time before the game.  After our warm-up, we took a group photo on the field, and were escorted to the tented area with refreshments.

To be early on a Sunday morning, everyone around the stadium was as cheerful as could be!  It was certainly a beautiful day today!  Because of the Morgan sponsorship, there were probably more Morgan alumni in the stadium than is typical.  I saw several Morgan alums who were attending the game, working at the stadium, or playing in the Ravens Marching Band.  

I spoke with the Ravens Marching band president, John Ziemann, who told me to keep sending the Morgan musicians to the band, as they have done quite well in the organization.  Although the Morgan Marching band has played with the Ravens Marching band in the past, unfortunately, he and Melvin Miles, Morgan band director,  were not able to align schedules this time around to rehearse the two bands together for today’s game.  

You will see pics of the choir waiting to go onto the field, seeing the Marching band precede us.  We happened to enter out of the tunnel, on the side with the L.A. Chargers, so we saw them parade past us prior to our entrance!

It was great to hear “Morgan State University” announced so many times during the game!  At least twice a quarter, highlights from the game would be shown on the big screen with the Morgan trademark conspicuously shown!

The choir has performed many places over the years, but this stadium of fans certainly was the largest live public performance that we have ever enjoyed.  Of course, as you can imagine, it is challenging to sing in a stadium with the slow speed of acoustics in a space as large as M&T stadium.  I must say the anthem went very well.  A choir member texted me a few audience reactions to our performance below.

Although the anthem takes a little more than a minute and a half to sing,  we all agreed that we were very exhausted after the performance.  We were all given great seats to see the game after we performed.  We enjoyed a commanding football performance by our Baltimore Ravens - leading to a conference leading 5-1 record.  We thoroughly enjoyed the day!

See pics attached from our day.  Also see links to videos of our performance: from the stands and from the field.


Comments after the performance from fans in the stadium:
"A woman just came up to me and told me that she and her husband have been season ticket holders for years now and they both agreed that that was the best rendition of the star spangled banner they’ve heard here!"

"Another lady just told me she got emotional during it."

Ravens Marching band arrival

Morgan choir anthem performance from the stands:

Morgan choir anthem performance from the field:

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Kelly Hall-Tompkins: Artist Propulsion Recital Live at the WQXR Greene Space - Tuesday, October 19th at 7pm in person and livestreamed

Kelly Hall-Tompkins writes:

I hope this email finds you continuing to be well and enjoying a healthy and successful re-entry to more in-person life.  If you listen to New York City's WQXR radio, chances are you might have heard promos for my upcoming recital as a featured artist of the Artist Propulsion Lab.  I am so excited and honored to perform the first in-person concert back at the WQXR Greene Space on Tuesday October 19th at 7pm.  The concert will be hosted by my friend Elliott Forrest and will be both in person and live streamed.  The program will feature my characteristically broad and eclectic repertoire from Debussy to Fiddler, including two pieces written for me during the pandemic, by Guy Mintus and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, and also the premiere of a new arrangement by me!  I was commissioned by the composer/lyricist duo Gail C. Bluestone and Eileen Sherman to write a violin solo arrangement for th song "My Mother's Menorah" from their show "The Odd Potato."  I am joined in that song by fellow APL artist, mezzo soprano Kara Dugan, and in the rest of the program by pianist Craig Ketter, accordionist Joshua Camp, guitar/mandolin Stephen Benson, and bass Michael Blanco.  Click below for a promo video and here for the event page and tickets. 
I'm also thrilled to be presented in an upcoming concert by the Indianapolis International Violin Competition at the Madame C.J. Walker Theater in Indianapolis.  I admire both the namesake of the theater and the prestigious competition and am honored to be a featured artist of both.  

Music Kitchen Forgotten Voices World Premiere at Carnegie Hall

If you know anything about me, you know that I like to create unique projects.  Historic, unprecedented and artistically inspiring, the Forgotten Voices project, is the most exciting project I have ever produced, and I could not be more thrilled to work with Carnegie Hall, or, as I like to call it, "The People's House," to bring it to full realization.  On behalf of my organization Music Kitchen - Food for the Soul, we are proud to present the world premiere of Forgotten Voices on March 13th, 2022 and I hope you will buy your ticket to the event.  Please check out our new trailer:

Saturday, October 16, 2021 Online Classical Music Competition “Classicalia” Helps Young Musicians Kickstart their Careers During Pandemic

Arts Engines: Aaron Dworkin Interviews UC Boulder Professor Donna Mejia about Arts & Social Justice!

Welcome to this week's episode of Arts Engines which now reaches over 100,000 weekly viewers in partnership with Detroit Public Television, Ovation TV, The Violin Channel and American Public Media including Performance Today and YourClassical. Arts Engines seeks to share the most valuable advice and input from arts administrators who tell their stories of creative problem-solving, policy, economic impact, crisis management and empowering the future of our field.

This week's show is co-curated by our Creative Partner, UC Boulder and our guest is Donna Mejia, Associate Professor, former Director of Graduate Studies in Dance and Crown Institute Inaugural Chancellor’s Health and Wellness Scholar in Residence at the University of Colorado Boulder as she discusses social justice as an artist educator.  Enjoy... and have a creative week!

Friday, October 15, 2021

Boosey and Hawkes: Julia Bullock Discusses Her Favorite Boosey & Hawkes Works

Soprano and tastemaker Julia Bullock singles out works from Boosey's catalog that carry personal significance to her as an artist. Her picks encompass song, oratorio, and opera across the past century, including works by Britten, Stravinsky, Adams, and Michel van der Aa.

Acclaimed soprano Julia Bullock has captivated audiences around the world with her powerful performances while carving out a fascinating trajectory for herself, giving defining performances of operas by John Adams and Igor Stravinsky.

Her latest role is in Michel van der Aa’s new multimedia opera Upload, with upcoming performances at the Dutch National Opera (October 1–8), as well as Cologne Opera and the Park Avenue Armory in New York in future seasons. Bullock stars in this modern drama centered on a father and daughter who struggle to connect after the ailing father decides to upload his conscious mind into a digital version of himself. (See reviews from the world premiere in Bregenz last July.)

In addition to her renown as a singer, Bullock is celebrated for her curatorial instincts. She states:
When I’m thinking about curating, I’m looking for themes I’m grappling with as an individual, and how that is being echoed across what is happening in our world right now. When I look at composers like Michel van der Aa or John Adams or Benjamin Britten, they have a wonderful self-awareness for their own selves, while also referencing everything else that is going on around them. In that way, I identify with these composers because they are challenging themselves constantly.


Michel van der Aa, Upload

First off, Michel is just a sensitive, patient person. And there is tremendous sensitivity and a level of grace that he demands from the performers in all his music. There’s something pristine that he’s always seeking—it’s in the orchestration and it’s in the vocal line.

The first piece he ever saw me perform was in The Rake’s Progress by Stravinsky. And he told me, “You found a wonderful way to balance the demands of Stravinsky’s music, his architecture, and angular writing, and find the lyricism and throughline.”

In Stravinsky’s music, much like in van der Aa’s, it’s pulling from several different musical sources. He pulls from practically every period of music in The Rake’s Progress. For Michel’s music, he balances between the classical operatic space and popular music space. That is very apparent in the writing, and from Day One of rehearsal it was absolutely necessary to keep that in mind in order to satisfy the delivery he sought after. Michel wants the most direct delivery of his material possible with utmost clarity. He also values utmost balance in a person’s singing voice. So even if there are emotional extremes throughout the opera, that still needed to be translated into my voice with balance and grace. As a singer, I learned a tremendous amount from that, and for the development of the character, it was interesting to have that state of balance be the consistent point of return.

Cedille Records: Clarinetist Anthony McGill and pianist Gloria Chien make their commercial recording debut as a duo on "Here With You"

Anthony McGill 
& Gloria Chien

Weber Grand Duo Concertante
Montgomery Peace

Cedille Records

Jim Ginsburg writes:


Clarinetist Anthony McGill and pianist Gloria Chien make their commercial recording debut as a duo on Here With You. This new release features German Romantic masterworks they’ve treasured throughout their 15 years of musical collaboration plus the world-premiere recording of Jessie Montgomery's Peace. Here With You is a project that embodies, in the artists’ words, a “shared expression of beauty and friendship.”


(All pre-orders ship on release date)
Pre-Order Now

John Malveaux: Thursday, Oct. 14 rising soprano Golda Schultz opened second half of concert by singing "Four Last Songs" by Strauss, then "Death and Transfiguration"

John Malveaux of writes:

Thursday, Oct.  14, 2021 Maestro Dudamel conducted Schoenberg's 'Transfigured Night, Op. 4' during 1st half. The 2nd half opened with the rising soprano Golda Schultz singing Four Last Songs by Strauss (Spring, September, When Falling Asleep, At Sunset). An affection seemed to be present between Dudamel, Schultz and the orchestra. The audience responded in kind. The program concluded with Strauss's 'Death and Transfiguration'. Most of the audience waited for an encore that did not happen. See pic Golda Schultz bowing to audience.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Sergio A. Mims: On Nov. 2 on WHPK-FM I will be broadcasting the highly anticipated Naxos CD of Florence Price's Symphony No. 3 conducted by John Jeter

Florence Beatrice Price
Symphony No. 3 in C minor
The Mississippi River
Ethiopa's Shadow in America
ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
John Jeter

Sergio A. Mims writes:


On Tuesday Nov. 2 on WHPK-FM on my weekly classical music program I will be broadcasting the new highly anticipated Naxos recording of Florence Price's Symphony No. 3 conducted by John Jeter with the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Also on the program will be Price's The Mississippi River Suite and Ethiopia's Shadow in America both from the same new Naxos recording, Debussy's Preludes Book 2 and Hindemith's Symphonia Serena. I also will broadcast a new interview with John Jeter about his new Price recording and the impact of his previous highly successful and acclaimed Price symphonies recording.

As always my show can by heard every Tuesday from 12 noon - 3PM (Central time) locally on 88.5FM and worldwide livestream on the station's website on


Patrick D. McCoy: Under Diversity Banner, Sphinx Virtuosi Concert To Celebrate Progress

Sphinx Virtuosi has returned to live performance with a tour that includes a gala at Carnegie Hall. 
(Photo: Kevin Kennedy)

Conductor and clarinetist F. Nathaniel Gatlin

Afa Dworkin, Sphinx president and artistic director

By Patrick D. McCoy

October 12, 2021

PERSPECTIVE — Growing up in Petersburg, a small city in southeast Virginia, I was exposed to many fine musical experiences. Though there were no major concert halls or a plethora of what people would say were “mainstage” artists who came to town, the performances I heard from the stage of Petersburg High School were ones that would stay with me for a lifetime.

My hometown orchestra, the Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, was founded by Black conductor and clarinetist F. Nathaniel Gatlin. Professor Gatlin had a long career as chair of the music department at Virginia State University, a historically Black university, and was founder of the Intercollegiate Music Association. With Petersburg being in the area of the South commonly referred to as the “Crescent of the Civil War,” it is hard to imagine that a Black man had founded a symphony orchestra in such a racially complex city, let alone be the conductor. Yet, upon the death of Gatlin in 1989, another brilliant Black conductor (and cellist), Ulysses Kirksey, took up the helm and led the orchestra for 32 years until his untimely death in August.

I was not old enough to experience the artistry of Gatlin, but as a child it was through attending PSO concerts under the baton of Kirksey that I heard the great symphonic works played by a racially diverse orchestra. In what was certainly a full circle moment for me, I got some of my first professional opportunities with the orchestra as a student at Virginia State, including several performances of Handel’s Messiah as tenor soloist and the premiere of the opera The Edge of Glory by Emory Waters in which I sang the role of Henry Warren.

At a time when there are ongoing conversations about the lack of diversity in major American orchestras, I find myself wondering how an orchestra in a city of modest cultural resources such as Petersburg could achieve a sense of multiracial welcoming while large orchestras have seemed to shy away from the idea. Having now lived in the Washington, D.C., area for 15 years, and attended many concerts, I always ponder why I hardly see any Black musicians in the professional ensembles that play at the large halls. There are many talented Black string players in Washington, but unless a concert is a special program geared to a Black audience or centered around Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the full breadth of artistry simply is not as far-reaching as it should be.

I brought these thoughts to a recent interview with Afa Sadykhly Dworkin, president and artistic director of the Sphinx Organization, the Detroit-based nonprofit organization founded in 1997 that has been at the forefront of efforts to foster equity, diversity, and inclusion in classical music. Its core mission of providing free lessons and instruments to elementary school violinists in Detroit and Flint, Mich., continued in virtual formats during the pandemic. Sphinx addresses the scant representation of Black and Latinx musicians in American symphony orchestras through the National Alliance for Audition Support (NAAS), in which it collaborates with the New World Symphony and the League of American Orchestras to prepare musicians of color for orchestra auditions.

The Sphinx Competition, open to young string players from underrepresented communities, is the organization’s flagship event (the 25th annual competition will be Jan. 26-29, 2022, in Detroit). In June, Sphinx was one of the 286 organizations awarded part of a $2.74 billion round of grants from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Sphinx has several professional ensembles, including the Sphinx Virtuosi chamber orchestra, which returned to live performance in September and October with a nine-city tour featuring works of Jessie Montgomery, Xavier Foley, Alberto Ginastera, and others. The Oct. 15 gala at Carnegie Hall includes Sphinx Medal of Excellence recipient bass-baritone Davóne Tines in the world premiere of an arrangement of the hymn “Angels in Heaven” by Carlos Simon, also a Medal of Excellence recipient.

Born in Moscow and trained as a violinist in Azerbaijan, Dworkin is a powerful testament to what can be achieved when you keep focus on your dreams and ambitions. Her abiding principle is that arts opportunities can be made for all who desire to have access to them. We began our conversation by discussing her own introduction to music as a child in the former Soviet Union.

CVNA:  What was the role of your parents as you began to express interest in music?

ASD: My dad was a chemical engineer, so he had a completely different mindset. In his leisure time, he did play the piano and the accordion, but he did not view music as a profession. He viewed it more as an important discipline to which every young person should be exposed. My mother was a romance languages linguist and a French professor at the university, so she had no exposure to music other than what was available in school.

In the Soviet Union, there were three television channels: one was news, another was Soviet news and propaganda, and the third was classical music. The classical channel was on all the time, so I heard the best masters and a lot of chamber music. I fell in love with a string orchestra called the Moscow Virtuosi, which inspired the Sphinx Virtuosi later. Their charismatic leader, Vladimir Spivakov, had me enthralled by how he handled the violin, so I kept asking my folks about studying the violin. Finally, when I turned seven my father said there was no harm if I wanted to audition.

In Azerbaijan’s capital city of Baku, there was a free community music conservatory where you could pick your instrument. I still remember when my mom took me for the audition. My introduction to music was sunny, harmonious, and I fell in love with my teacher. In the third grade, my folks took me to audition for pre-conservatory and I got in. Something that I loved was the concept that classical music would never differentiate because of your zip code, race, ethnicity, or culture. I was one of the few multiracial kids there, but no one ever made me feel different or lesser. That was something that was poignantly missing when I first came to the States at 17 years old, pursuing my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and was introduced to what was to become an early concept of Sphinx.

CVNA: It was at the University of Michigan where you met your future husband and fellow violinist, Aaron Dworkin, who founded Sphinx. How did the idea of diversity in classical music come up?

ASD: One day he was speaking about being the only multiracial person in an orchestra, and he asked me when was the last time that I had studied a concerto by a Black composer. My response was defensive, saying only that I was sure that Ellington and Joplin both wrote for orchestra. My lack of knowledge unsettled me and made me angry. I realized there was so much for me to learn. When I asked Aaron what he was going to do about the need for diversity in the classical music world, he said he was going to mount a festival that put the spotlight on string players of color. That festival was the initial pipeline that evolved into what we now know as the Sphinx Organization.

CVNA: In 2015, you succeeded Aaron as head of Sphinx. It can be daunting to take over an organization from its founder. Was that hard?

ASD: It is impossible to have replicated our founder’s role and impact. Fortunately, Aaron remains involved as a strategic adviser to our key initiatives. Ours is a life partnership (the Dworkins have two sons), which also helped empower my work and trajectory.