Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Re-release of Black Composers Series On LP & CD

[Black Composers Series; Detroit Symphony Orchestra; Paul Freeman, conductor; Natalie Hinderas, piano; Sanford Allen, violin; Sony Music Custom Marketing Group DSO-1111 (2002)]

The website of the College Music Society has this to say about the historic CBS Black Composers Series, which was issued at a time at which Black Classical Composers were virtually unknown to most Classical Music enthusiasts:

“CBS Records' Black Composers Series

The College Music Society, in conjunction with the Center for Black Music Research, released CBS Records' Black Composers Series in 1987. The Series, recorded by Columbia Records between 1974 and 1979, is available as a boxed set of nine vinyl long-playing records. An informative booklet describing both the music and the lives of the composers is included.

The Black Composers Series, an important component of the documentation of Black achievement in western culture, contains music written by Black composers during the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, and, in part, demonstrates the working out of the Black aesthetic in the western concert music tradition over a two-hundred-year period. Composers whose work is presented are T.J. Anderson, David Baker, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Roque Cordero, Jose Mauricio Nunes Garcia, Adolphus Hailstork, Talib Rasul Hakim, Ulysses Kay, the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Hale Smith, Fela Sowande, William Grant Still, George Walker, Jose White, and Olly Wilson. The works in the Series are performed under the direction of Paul Freeman by major symphony orchestras of the United States and Europe, and by some of the world's leading concert artists.

The reissue of CBS Records' Black Composers Series by The College Music Society was made possible by a grant from the Ford Foundation.”

We had heard Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma of Lawrence University, Appleton, Wisconsin, had played a role in the series along with Dr. Paul Freeman, who is profiled at AfriClassical.com so we asked him about it. Here are excerpts from his reply:

You asked if I had anything to do with this. Paul and I selected the music, I wrote the liner notes, edited the works of Saint-Georges, and orchestrated the Nunes-García.”

“...the Ford Foundation funded the reissue with the understanding no one made any money from this. The liner notes are all new. All 9 LPs are on sale at a very low price for CMS [College Music Society] members, and just a bit more for non-members. The production is excellent. I have no idea how many copies remain.”

A 2-CD set of works from the original series was re-released as Black Composers Series, DSO-1111 (2002). It includes compositions of Roque Cordero, George Walker, Adolphus Hailstork and Hale Smith.

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