Friday, February 29, 2008

Frank Townsell, African American Pianist Of CD “Blind Boone's Piano Music”

[Blind Boone's Piano Music, An African American composer performed by Frank Townsell; Laurel LR-860CD (1998)]

From the pianist's website:

“Born and educated in Kansas City, Missouri, Frank Townsell made his first professional appearance with the Kansas City Youth Symphony Orchestra in 1959. He had been a student of the piano since the age of 5, winning many honors and awards along the way. Among his educational and musical degrees, he received a B.A. in French Literature from the University of Missouri while continuing his piano studies with Richard Canterbury. Frank Townsell received a Master of Music degree from the University of British Columbia, while studying piano with Dr. Dale Reubart.

In 1971 Townsell received the diploma from the Fontainebleau Conservatoire in Paris. At that time his principle teachers were Nadia Boulanger, Robert Casadesus, and Jean-Jacques Painchaud. He scored a triumph at his Paris debut, which led to further successful appearances in France. At Reid Hall in Paris he was soloist on a recital program in honor of Mlle. Boulanger, was also featured on programs at Fontainebleau, and performed a recital at the Centre Culturel Américain.

Frank Townsell taught formerly at the University of British Columbia, and for the past twenty six years at City College of San Francisco.”

Frank Townsell Plays (2003) is a recording on which the pianist interprets solo piano works of Chopin, Debussy, Schubert and the African American Composer Clarence Cameron White, whom we profiled on Feb. 27, 2008. The recording is available from

An earlier recording is Blind Boone's Piano Music, An African American composer performed by Frank Townsell, Laurel LR-860CD (1998). A tip from a niece of John Boone, known as Blind Boone (1864-1927), led him to undertake the research and recording project, with the support of the National Endowment for the Arts. An overview of the life and career of John Boone is included at the pianist's website.

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Classical+Pianist" rel="tag">Classical Pianist
Classical+Music" rel="tag">Classical Music
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John+Boone" rel="tag">John Boone

England's Essex County Seeks Cultural Diversity Project Development Manager

Essex Cultural Diversity Project Development Manager – 2 year fixed term contract

£24,000 for 3 days a week

Essex Racial Equality Council is seeking to appoint a Development Manager to lead on the Essex Cultural Diversity Project (ECDP) an exciting new initiative supported by Arts Council England East and Essex County Council.

ECDP aims to provide a focal point for the development, celebration and co-ordination of Essexs cultural diversity through arts and heritage activity across Essex. Activities of the project will span the entire cultural sector but at the initial stage will focus on the arts. Additionally, the project aims to enhance and facilitate the participation and involvement of the region’s BME communities in arts and heritage activities, and to enable BME artists and practitioners to access appropriate support, showcasing and development opportunities.

If you are passionate about arts and culture and have experience of engaging effectively with BME communities and voluntary groups, we want to hear from you.

For an informal discussion about the post please contact Georgia Ward, Arts Development Manager, Essex County Council tel: 01245 244645 or Clive Mardner, Director, Essex Racial Equality Council tel: 01268 465068

For a job application pack, please contact Sam Fry, Arts Development Assistant, Arts Development, Essex County Council, Wharf Road, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 6YT

Tel: 01245 244664


Deadline for applications Thursday 20 March 2008

Interview date Monday 31 March 2008

Classic in Black Radio: African American Soprano Janet Williams Mar. 4

Tuesday March 4, 2008 at 8 pm Berlin Time (Live)

The Classic in Black Radio Show Program on Offener Kanal Berlin 97,2 Mhz presents the historical contribution of African-Americans in the classical music and opera domains, through a live interview with acclaimed African-American soprano Ms Janet Williams who lives in Berlin, Germany; this program is accompanied by CD recordings of Ms Williams.

On the Cabel at Offener Kanal Berlin 92,6 Mhz or Antenna 97,2 Mhz Live monthly streaming available at the website: Look under the section Radio live stream.

Offener Kanal Berlin Website:

Harry Louiserre/Producer and Moderator CIB Radio Show, Email:

Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora, Vol. 1

Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora is a landmark 5-volume publication from Oxford University Press. It was compiled and edited by Dr. William H. Chapman Nyaho, a classical pianist and educator who was born in the U.S., was raised in his parents' native country of Ghana, and who returned to the U.S. after completing his education. Volumes 1 and 2 were published in March 2007; Volumes 3, 4 and 5 are due to be released this Spring. The volumes are graded; Volume 1 is Easy Intermediate, and Volume 2 is Intermediate. The following are the composers and works titles for Volume 1:

Isak Roux: Kwela No. 1
Ulysses Kay: Tender Thought
Hale Smith: My Scarf is Yellow
Nkeiru Okoye: Dusk
Robert Mawuena Kwami: Piano Piece No. 2, Call and Response
Halik El-Dabh: Soufiane
Hale Smith: Off-Beat Shorty
Florence B. Price: Ticklin' Toes
Valerie Capers: Sweet Mister Jelly Roll
Nkeiru Okoye: Dancing Barefoot in the Rain
Isak Roux: Lullaby
Valerie Capers: The Monk
Bangambula Vindu: Lullaby
J. H. Kwabena Nketia: Builsa Work Song
Christian Onyeji: Ufie III

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Girma Yifrashewa, Ethiopian Pianist, Performs in Washington, D.C. March 1 has been proud to present the amazing life and career of Girma Yifrashewa, Ethiopian classical pianist and composer for several years. He was born in Addis Ababa on October 15, 1967, and first saw a piano at age 16, yet he overcame many obstacles to earn a Master's Degree in piano performance in Sofia, Bulgaria. On the day before his birthday in 2007 AfriClassical published an article with audio samples of all six tracks of his 2006 CD “Elilta” (“Cry of Joy”).

On Saturday, March 1 at 6:00 P.M., Girma Yifrashewa will give a piano recital in Washington, D.C. at Howard University College of Medicine, Third Floor, Auditorium #3019. Girma has a website of his own, in English and German:

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Samuel Akpabot's “Three Nigerian Dances” Published by Oxford University Press

[Three Nigerian Dances (8:34); National Symphony Orchestra of the South African Broadcasting Corporation; Richard Cock, Conductor; Marco Polo 8.223832 (1995)]

Oxford University Press:

Samuel Akpabot: Three Nigerian Dances

Samuel Ekpe Akpabot was born into the Ibibio people in southeastern Nigeria on 3 October 1932. A scholarship enabled Akpabot to travel to England in 1954 and enroll in the Royal College of Music in London where he studied organ and trumpet. His teachers included John Addison, Osborn Pisgow, and Herbert Howells. While in England Akpabot also studied at Trinity College. In 1959 he returned to Nigeria and became a broadcaster with the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation. He continued his studies in musicology at the University of Chicago (M.A.) and Michigan State University (Ph.D.). In 1995 he was appointed Professor of Music at the University of Uyo, Nigeria. His music has been played by the Ann Arbor Symphony, the Alabama Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the BBC Welsh Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Milwaukee Symphony, the Savannah Symphony, and the Chicago Chamber Orchestra as well as at many colleges and universities.
Three Nigerian Dances has been recorded by the National Symphony Orchestra of the South African Broadcasting Corporation led by Richard Cock (Marco Polo 8.223832). Samuel Akpabot died on 7 August 2000.

His training helped equip Akpabot to notate traditional Nigerian material in such a way as to make it accessible to western audiences. As far as the
Three Nigerian Dances are concerned, the composer wrote:

"I was inspired in writing this work by Dvorak's Slavonic Dances which I enjoy
listening to very much. Jolly good fun was my key word here and I think string orchestras would enjoy getting introduced to the dances which we, in Africa, have enjoyed through the years. They all consist of an opening section, a middle section which does not modulate, and a closing section. Modulation is very foreign to African instrumental music and I wanted very much to get away from the ABA form so common to early European instrumental music."

Score and parts for Three Nigerian Dances for strings and timpani (duration: 9 minutes) are published. A perusal score and recording are available on request.

Oxford University Press
Music Department
198 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016

[Samuel Ekpe Akpabot is profiled at]

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008 “Clarence Cameron White, Violinist and Classical Composer” maintains a home page for “Clarence Cameron White / Violinist and Classical Composer (1879 – 1960)”. The following are excerpts:

Violinist and classical composer Clarence Cameron White was born in Clarksville, Tenn., and spent his childhood in Oberlin, Ohio, Chattanooga, Tenn., and Washington, D.C. He began studying the violin at the age of eight and wrote his first composition for violin and piano at age fourteen. After graduating from Howard University, White entered the Oberlin Conservatory in 1896 and graduated in 1901.

He continued his studies and performed in Boston, New Haven, and New York where he drew the attention of Paul Laurence Dunbar, Harry T. Burleigh, and Booker T. Washington. In 1903 he was invited to join the Washington [D.C.] Conservatory, and he also later taught in public schools there. In the following year he met African-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor with whom he studied in London in 1906 and again in 1908-11. After performing throughout Europe he established a studio in Boston where he conducted the Victoria Concert Orchestra from 1914 until 1924.”

Strongly influenced by folk music, White composed violin and orchestral work, and arranged African-American spirituals. Notable are his Symphony in D Minor, an orchestral piece entitled Elegy, the ballet score A Night in Sans Souci, and a cantata, Heritage, which was performed at the Church of the Master shortly before his death.” Full Biography

Visitor is 'Blown Away' by

The following post was made in the Guest Book of today:

Brenda Marx,
Wednesday, 2/27/08, 6:51 AM

I was blown away by all of the wonderful information on this site! Very informative. Made me proud to learn that we're so well represented. I'm a teacher and to be able to pull this up during "Black History Month" was just awesome. Thanks for all the hard work and all of the effort given to putting this site together and making this information privileged for the world to see." rel="tag"> Visitor
Guest+Book" rel="tag">Guest Book
Black+History" rel="tag">Black History
African+Heritage" rel="tag">African Heritage
Educational+Resource" rel="tag">Educational Resource
Black+Composers" rel="tag">Black Composers

Clarence Cameron White (1879-1960), African American Composer, Honored in Birthplace

Program honors city-born composer
The Leaf-Chronicle, Clarksville, Tennessee
February 27, 2008

"People walking in the Woodward Library at Austin Peay State University Tuesday afternoon were met with a shocking sound - loud music coming from the third floor."

Presented by Gail Robinson-Oturu, chair of APSU's music department, the program explored the life and work of Clarence Cameron White. White, a black composer born in Clarksville in 1879, rose to prominence during his lifetime, but his work is lesser known since his death.”

Robinson-Oturu developed an interest in White through an unusual path. An accomplished singer, she was approached by Ann Ladd, a Clarence Cameron White fan, after a performance in Florida. Twelve years passed, and Ladd again contacted Robinson-Oturu, this time wanting to pass along her priceless collection of White's music, written in White's own hand. By then, Robinson-Oturu was working in Clarksville, White's birthplace, so it seemed a perfect fit.”

White's life was marked by hardship, but none worse than when his son died, followed by the death of his wife, mother and father within a 6-month period. White composed a piece called 'Elegy' during his time of grief and loneliness. He set the music aside for 12 years, then entered it in a national competition and won. It was significant because the judging was blind, and the winner was black.

As part of the presentation, musicians performed several of White's compositions. Erien Fryer and Simone Rothemel performed 'Chant,' Leandria Lott from Tennessee State University and Philip Autry from Fisk University performed 'Pilgrim,' and Phoebe Gelzer-Govatos and Anne Glass performed 'Cappricio.' Robinson-Oturu also sang one of White's vocal compositions.

Robinson-Oturu made a phone call near the program's end to 103-year-old Ann Ladd, who spoke to the group via speakerphone.

'Dr. White was a very fine man, and a handsome man, and most of all a modest man,' she said about the composer, whom she knew personally.” Full Article

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Classical+Music" rel="tag">Classical Music
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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra Premieres Work of Tania León March 28 & 30

Dame Felicity Lott, soprano, and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra will premiere a newly commissioned work of the Afro-Cuban composer Tania Justina León at the Williams Center for the Arts in Easton, Pennsylvania on Friday, March 28; and at The Performing Arts Center in Purchase, New York on Sunday, March 30, 2008. Other works on the program are: Copland: Three Latin American Sketches; Chausson: Poème de l’Amour et de la Mer; Bizet: Symphony in C. [Tania Justina León is profiled at]

Tania+León" rel="tag">Tania León
Orpheus+Orchestra" rel="tag">Orpheus Orchestra
Chamber+Music" rel="tag">Chamber Music
Felicity+Lott" rel="tag">Felicity Lott
Chamber+Orchestra" rel="tag">Chamber Orchestra
African+Descent" rel="tag">African Descent

Peabody Archives Online Exhibit: “The Storm is Passing Over”

The Peabody Archives of The Johns Hopkins University present: The Storm is Passing Over: Celebrating the Musical Life of Maryland's African-American Community from Emancipation to Civil Rights”.

"The Storm is Passing Over," a traveling and on-line exhibition, uses photographs, manuscripts and memorabilia to document the lives of Maryland's African-American musicians. It tells the stories of their struggles and achievements during the long years of segregation, from Reconstruction to the passage of the first Civil Rights Act in 1964. The exhibition was organized by the Peabody Institute in cooperation with the Enoch Pratt Library and Coppin State College and traveled through the State of Maryland through the year 2000.

The exhibit features well-known personalities like Eubie Blake, Billie Holiday and Cab Calloway, as well as lesser-known figures who played a significant role in the musical life of Maryland. Among the latter are A. Jack Thomas, one of the first black bandmasters in the U. S. Army and the first African-American to conduct the all-white Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; classically trained violinist and composer Henderson T. Kerr, who led a society orchestra in and around Baltimore from 1902 until about 1920; W. Llewellyn Wilson who taught generations of musicians at Douglass High School, including bandleader Cab Calloway and soprano Anne Brown, the first Bess in George Gershwin's opera Porgy and Bess.

The exhibition also examines the hardships imposed by segregation on African-American musicians: the rigors of touring when few public accommodations were available to black artists, and concert halls, especially in the South, refused to present them.

The exhibition's special brochure for schools is organized in sections: Historical Background, The Church, Ragtime and Jazz, Bands and Classical Music, Frederick Douglass High School, Touring Segregated America, Pennsylvania Avenue, The World at War and the Civil Rights Struggle.

French Course Syllabus Uses Essay on Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges

[String Quartets Opus 14; Third Book of Quartets; Apollon Quartet; Avenira 276011 (2005)]

The French translation of the essay on Joseph de Bologne, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799) is the work of Daniel G. Marciano, Professor Emeritus of French at the University of Franche-Comté, in Besançon, France. He has written plays and an historical novel,
Le chevalier de Saint-Georges, le fils de Noémie (The Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Son of Noémie). He is also co-author of a book on theatrical fencing.

We were pleased and proud to learn that a French paragraph at, on the birth of Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, is linked to a French course syllabus for Spring 2008 at Temple University in Philadelphia. The link appears in a syllabus section dealing with the 18th Century in France: We congratulate Prof. Marciano on this additional evidence of the significance of his scholarly translation.

The Afro-American Newspaper: Alvin Ailey elevates Black dance

By Zenitha Prince
Washington Bureau Chief

It doesn’t seem that long ago, but 50 years ago, seven young Black dancers, led by Alvin Ailey II, gave a performance at the 92nd Street Young Men's Hebrew Association in New York City that became the stuff of legend.

It was the beginning of an era of American dance that celebrated the African-American experience. The repertory, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, performed to both classical dance numbers as well as original choreography by Ailey and other young choreographers.

Their debut piece, Blues Suite, depicted the angst and joys of life on the edge of poverty in the South. But it was Ailey’s 1960 piece, Revelations, an interpretation of the spectrum of Black religious experience that was set to a series of spirituals and gospel selections, that established Ailey as a giant in the dance world.

He was one of the ones who was able to put the African-American experience onto the stage in a concert setting,” said Renée Robinson, a Southeast Washington native and 27-year member of the Alvin Ailey company. “It gave people of the world a change to see that part of our culture and history.” Full Post

Monday, February 25, 2008

Baltimore Sun: Baltimore's other symphony orchestra

Baltimore Sun
Cellist's daughter recalls applause for Colored Symphony

By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Sun Reporter
February 24, 2008
Theadosia Johnson Stokes remembers growing up in Baltimore during the 1930s, and dressing in her Sunday best, to attend concerts of the old Colored Symphony Orchestra and Chorus that were held in the auditorium of Frederick Douglass High School.

"I also remember walking down a long path in Druid Hill Park, with long rows of benches on each side, that ended with a bandstand, and that's where the Colored Park Band played during the summer," Stokes, now 86, recalled the other day.

"It seemed to me that it was behind the conservatory and not far from Auchentoroly Terrace. People enjoyed going there to listen to the music," she said. Full Post

Pateira's Journal: Ellington Considered His Works “American Music”

February 24
Posted by Luís Antunes in Music

Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was born 1899 in Washington, D.C. (1899 - 1974). By the time of his passing, he was considered amongst the world’s greatest composers and musicians.

Ellington called his style and sound "American Music" rather than jazz, and liked to describe those who impressed him as "beyond category", including many of the musicians who served with his orchestra, some of whom were themselves considered among the giants of jazz and remained with Ellington's orchestra for decades. While many were noteworthy in their own right, it was Ellington that melded them into one of the most well-known orchestral units in the history of jazz.

Some of Ellington’s greatest works include “Rockin’ in Rhythm,” “Satin Doll,” “New Orleans,” “A Drum is a Women,” “Take the 'A' Train,” “Happy-Go-Lucky Local,” “The Mooche,” and “Crescendo in Blue.” Duke Ellington wrote and recorded hundreds of musical compositions, all of which will continue to have a lasting effect upon people worldwide for a long time to come. [Duke Ellington is profiled at]

Chicago Sun-Times Online Features AfriClassical Posts

During February The Chicago Sun-Times Entertainment Blog Entries have included many posts from AfriClassical. Above each post is this introduction:

A companion to, it celebrates African Heritage in Classical Music with profiles of composers and musicians, and discusses issues related to diversity in classical music.” One recent post is "James DePreist Conducts Juilliard Orchestra at Carnegie Hall", while others have profiled such Black classical composers and musicians as Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, Florence Beatrice Price and John McLaughlin Williams.

Chicago+Sun-Times" rel="tag">Chicago Sun-Times
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African+Heritage" rel="tag">African Heritage
Classical+Music" rel="tag">Classical Music
James+DePreist" rel="tag">James DePreist
Black+Composers" rel="tag">Black Composers

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ottawa Spotlight: Celso Machado Presented by Ville de Gatineau March 7

Celso Machado Presented by: Ville de Gatineau

A master of Brazilian rhythms, a guitar virtuoso, percussionist and multi-instrumentalist, Celso Machado effortlessly spreads his joy to his audiences. March 7, 2008, 8 pm. Cost: Adults $20, students $15. At: Salle la Basoche, 120 Principale Street, Aylmer (Indoor).

[Celso Machado is profiled at His own website is:]

Celso+Machado" rel="tag">Celso Machado
Afro-Brazilian+Guitaristt" rel="tag">Afro-Brazilian Guitarist
Gatineau+Québec" rel="tag">Gatineau Quebec
Afro-Brazilian+Composer" rel="tag">Afro-Brazilian Composer
Guitar+Concert" rel="tag">Guitar Concert
African+Descent" rel="tag">African Descent

ASCAP: Tania León To Keynote Spain's American Embassy Event, Mar. 4-6 announces the role to be played by Tania Justina León (b. 1943) at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, Spain, March 4-6, 2008:

Composer, conductor and educator Tania León will be the keynote speaker at the American Embassy in Madrid, Spain for the Embassy's Black History Month. The program will be organized by the Embassy in collaboration with the Museum of Americas in Madrid. León will be an Ambassador of American Culture in Spain and the audience will learn about the unique culture of the US through León's music and personal experiences. León's honors include the New York Governor's Lifetime Achievement Award, and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, ASCAP and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, among others. She is Distinguished Professor of the City University of New York in addition to her composition and conducting performances.

[Tania Justina León is profiled at Her own website is:]

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Keynote+Speaker" rel="tag">Keynote Speaker
Black+Composer" rel="tag">Black Composer
Black+History" rel="tag">Black History
Classical+Music" rel="tag">Classical Music

The Harlem Blogscan Finds Harlem Quartet Via AfriClassical

[Take the 'A' Train; The Harlem Quartet; White Pine Music (2007)]

Uptown Flavor: The Harlem Blogscan, Feb. 22, Posted by illoquentgent

"While searching for different articles to put into the scoop here on UF I was curious to do a sort of round-up of different blogs regarding Harlem. We don’t formally have any arrangements with these blogs but I was curious to find out what else is “out there”. Call it my own little blog channel surfing. Do you read other Harlem-related blogs regularly? Tell us about them in the comments section."

"Africlassical Blog: A blog that expounds on African heritage in classical music. Not a Harlem-centered blog but I would have never known there was a Harlem Quartet if it weren't for this site. Really opens your eyes to some beautiful artists."

Harlem+Quartet" rel="tag">Harlem Quartet
Uptown+Flavor" rel="tag">Uptown Flavor
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Latino+Musicians" rel="tag">Latino Musicians
AfriClassical+Blog" rel="tag">AfriClassical Blog

Saturday, February 23, 2008

“Felices Días” by Afro-Puerto Rican Composer Juan Morel Campos at YouTube

Juan Morel Campos (1857-1896) was an Afro-Puerto Rican composer and musician known as the most prolific composer of Puerto Rican Danzas. He is profiled at A 4-minute YouTube video calledFelices Días - Orquesta Sinfónica de Puerto Rico” was posted Feb. 19, 2008 by (davimerc):

“Roselín Pabón: Director/Conductor

Juan Morel Campos
Born in Ponce on May 16, 1857, he is without any doubt, the best exponent of the Puerto Rican danza. He was the most prolific danza composer and the one who took that form to its highest level. “El Asalto”, "Felices Días", "Vano Empeño", "No me toques", “Un Conflicto”, "Mis penas", "Tormento", "Alma Sublime", "Laura y Georgina” and many others are only a small sample of his vast repertoire, which is calculated to be more than 550 compositions of which more than 300 are danzas. He began his musical studies at the tender age of eight under Prof. Antonio Egipciaco.

During his youth he learned how to play almost all brass instruments and for some time he conducted the Municipal Band of Ponce and was the church's organist. He later became the most advanced student of Manuel G. Tavarez, considered The Father of the Danza, whose influence can be perceived in some of his first creating new danzas in which he incorporated all the rhythms and styles of his time, plus many of his own, developing the form to what it is today. Many of Morel's danzas were not originally written for the piano. In its origins danzas were for dancing, as its name implies. Morel had his own dance orchestra, "La Lira Ponceña" for which he wrote most of his compositions. Later he transcribed them for the piano, so they could be played by everyone at home and not be forgotten. Morel's inspiration came from many sources, but most of his danzas are inspired on women and love. It is said that he was in love with a lady, Mercedes Arias, but her family didn't approve of her relationship with the musician. That frustration gave birth to many of his most beautiful danzas of which "Alma Sublime" is said to be one. On April 26, 1896, during a concert in Ponce, he suffered a stroke which led to his death on May 12, just four days before his 39th birthday.”

Morel+Campos" rel="tag">Morel Campos
Afro-Puerto+Rican" rel="tag">Afro-Puerto Rican
Felices+Días" rel="tag">Felices Días
Danzas+Composer" rel="tag">Danzas Composer
African+American" rel="tag">African American
Orquesta+Sinfónica " rel="tag">Orquesta Sinfónica

Duke Ellington's Version of The Nutcracker Suite Heard in Edmonton

[The Definitive Duke Ellington; Sony 61444 (2000)]

E-J's Take: ESO Jazz Masters” is a post on a performance by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and Musical Director Bill Eddins of Edmonton, Alberta, Friday, Feb. 22 at the Winspear Centre. The African American composer and pianist Duke Ellington was best known for his huge repertoire of jazz works, but he was also an accomplished classical composer. Several of his classical compositions are discussed at his page at

The final piece the orchestra performed tonight was Duke Ellington's rendition of the Nutcracker Suite. Since I have enjoyed Ellington's music my entire life, this was one of my favorite pieces performed tonight. (oh yes, it was a very hard choice) It was very interesting to hear as familiar a piece as the Nutcracker performed in a jazz setting, as it is normally a strictly orchestral performance. It contained revisions of the Overture, the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Waltz of the Flowers, Dance of the Reed Pipes and a March, all cleverly renamed to match the jazziness of the performance. Undoubtedly, my favorite section in this performance was the march, which was cleverly renamed as the Peanut Brittle Brigade.” Full Post

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Ellington+Adaptation" rel="tag">Ellington Adaptation

Pianist William Chapman Nyaho is Guest Artist at Whitman College Mar. 26

[Senku: Piano Music by Composers of African Descent; William Chapman Nyaho, piano;
Musicians Showcase 1091 (2003)]

William Chapman Nyaho is an accomplished classical pianist and educator of African descent. The Whitman College Hall of Music presents Dr. Chapman Nyaho as a Guest Artist in the Chism Recital Hall on Wednesday, March 26, 2008 at 7:30 p.m. The college is located in Walla Walla, Washington.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

The Collaborative Piano Blog: “Hot Stories from the Classical Blogosphere”

Our friend Christopher Foley of Toronto, Ontario writes "The Collaborative Piano Blog". Yesterday Dr. Foley wrote that after exploring new options in blogging software, he had established a feature in the side column, 'Hot Stories in the Classical Blogosphere'. Using a group of 69 classical music blogs, the author is listing a post from each of the 10 blogs which have been updated most recently. Yesterday's list included a post from AfriClassical, concerning a newspaper review of a performance by the Harlem Quartet, comprised of Black and Latino musicians. We heartily recommend "The Collaborative Piano Blog" to our readers.

Musical Tribute to Black History Month: University of North Florida & Ritz Chamber Players Feb. 24

Sunday, Feb. 24, 3:00 PM

The Ritz Chamber Players join the University of North Florida Wind Ensemble for a Musical Tribute to Black History Month. The Wind Ensemble Guest Artist Series Concert will be conducted by Dr. Gordon Brock. This free performance is 3 p.m. Sunday at the UNF Fine Arts Center, Lazzara Performance Hall, 1 UNF Drive. (904) 620-2878.

Rodney Mack Philadelphia Big Brass At New York Historical Society Feb. 23

Rodney Mack is a trumpeter of international acclaim. Having worked under such conductors as Leonard Bernstein, Gerard Schwarz, James DePreist, and John Williams, Mack has played with some of the world's best symphonies and orchestras. In addition to his award-winning solo work, Mack leads the Rodney Mack Philadelphia Big Brass, an ensemble of Philadelphia's top brass and percussion players. The ensemble performs at a number of top venues and with a variety of musical styles, including music by Frank Johnson, a nineteenth-century African-American performer and composer. Four of the members will be playing at the New-York Historical Society to form a brass quintet.

Francis Johnson (1792-1844) was a Philadelphia-born African American composer and bandleader. Johnson toured in the US and abroad in the early 1800s including a trip to England to perform for Queen Victoria. He was a virtuoso keyed bugle player whose band performed a mixture of classical and folk music, including groundbreaking performances with an integrated group of musicians. In an era when full-time musicians were a rarity in the United States, Johnson fashioned a career of such variety and importance that it would be the envy of many a modern musician. Even more remarkable is that Johnson was able to achieve such success against a background of racial strife that worsened even as his work progressed. The Marquis de Lafayette, on his return trip to America in 1820 was greeted in New York Harbor by Francis Johnson and his band.

[Francis B. Johnson is profiled at]

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Times Herald Record: “Harlem Quartet as part of Newburgh Chamber Music”

[Take the 'A' Train; The Harlem Quartet; White Pine Music (2007)]

For the Times Herald Record
February 20, 2008

NEWBURGH, NY — Newburgh Chamber Music opened its new concert series with a remarkable group, the Harlem Quartet, only in its second year of existence yet already making its place on the musical map.

The four string players — violinists Ilmar Gavilan and Melissa White, violist Juan-Miguel Hernandez and cellist Desmond Neysmith — are virtuoso performers each in their own right, with on-target technique, boundless energy and contagious enthusiasm. Their enjoyment in playing the music with one another communicated directly with the large and responsive audience.”

Their versatility was challenged by Wynton Marsalis' String Quartet No. 1 (1980), written when he was only 20. Inspired by his childhood memories of New Orleans octoroon balls and city life, the work is in multiple parts, four of which the quartet performed: II. Mating Calls and Delta Rhythms; III. Creole Contradanzas; VII. Rampart Street Row House Rag; and V. Hellbound Highball.”

"Take the 'A' Train, the Duke Ellington signature tune by Billy Strayhorn, arranged by Paul Chihara, made for the perfect farewell with the four strings engaging in an intricate exchange that exercised exact timing and alert response. For an encore, the group offered My Little Conga, with tempo plucked on strings, stretched out by bowing and drummed on their instruments into a weaving conga line.” Full Article

Purchasing Classical Music by Black Composers

[African Heritage Symphonic Series Vol. I; Cover: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor; Fela Sowande; William Grant Still; Chicago Sinfonietta; Paul Freeman, conductor; Cedille 90000 055 (2000)]

One of the most frequent questions asked by visitors to is “Where can I buy CDs of the composers featured at your website?”. Stores which specialize in classical music often have some CDs of Black Composers, but the most comprehensive selection is found online at such websites as and Cedille Records, Chicago's nonprofit classical music label, has recorded an African Heritage Symphonic Series, as well as individual CDs of music by such composers as Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges and José Silvestre White. In honor of Black History Month, is offering 25% off all CDs of music of Black Composers during the month of February. Another major source is Search engines can quickly find many more online retailers.

Detroit Public Television to Broadcast 2008 Sphinx Competition Finals Concert

[Clayton Penrose-Whitmore, first-place Laureate of the 2008 Sphinx Competition junior division, performs with the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra at Orchestra Hall in Detroit.]

Young Black and Latino string players participated in the 11th Annual Sphinx Competition last month. Aaron P. Dworkin is the African American violinist who founded the Sphinx Organization and is its President. Its main website is, and the interactive site for children is

If you weren't among the 2000 people in the audience for the 2008 Sphinx Competition Finals Concert on January 27, you have another opportunity to see and hear this remarkable concert. Detroit Public Television, WTVS-56, will broadcast the concert in high definition on Monday, February 25 at 10:00 PM.

Celso Machado Solos At Winteruption Festival, Feb. 23

The Afro-Brazilian classical guitarist and composer Celso Machado will appear in a free solo performance Saturday 12 PM, February 23 at the Winteruption Festival, Granville Island, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada:

Brazilian-born and Vancouver-based guitarist/singer/percussionist Celso Machado delights audiences with his mixture of infectious vocals, irresistible rhythm, and inspired lunacy. He's been hailed as "the most important Brazilian guitarist of the new generation." Whether he's leading the audience in a call-and-response percussion number or performing a spry bossa nova rendition of the Xavier Cugat favourite Brazil, Machado's performances are unerringly thrilling, beautiful and awe-inspiring.

William Levi Dawson's “Negro Folk Symphony” at NPR Website

[The Spirituals of William L. Dawson; The St. Olaf Choir; Anton Armstron, conductor; Marvis Martin, soprano; St. Olaf Records 2159 (1997)]

National Public Radio's “Performance Today” presented the African American composer William Levi Dawson's “Negro Folk Symphony” as part of “A Musical Black History Month”, Feb. 24, 2006. The complete work can still be heard online:

Listen: Hear Dawson's Negro Folk Symphony of 1934 (33:37)

Performance Today, February 24, 2006 · Spirituals in the 19th century were a symbol of sadness. William Levi Dawson understood that sadness when he wrote his Negro Folk Symphony of 1934. Robert Spano conducts the Atlanta Symphony in this concert performance.

[William Levi Dawson is profiled at]

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Tania Justina León Conducts Premiere of “Ácana” at Purchase College Feb. 29

Posted by
Thursday, 14 February 2008

Purchase, NY - The Purchase Symphony Orchestra performs the world premiere of Ácana, a new work by world-renowned composer and conductor Tania León February 29 at 8 PM in the Purchase College Performing Arts Center.

Ms. Leon, a visiting artist-in-residence at the School of the Arts, Conservatory of Music, will serve as guest conductor of this performance entitled From the African Diaspora, which also includes works by Revueltas, Ginastera, Ellington and Debussy.” Duke Ellington will be represented by his “Black, Brown & Beige Suite”.

Ms. Leon has based Ácana on a poem of the same name by Cuban poet laureate Nicolas Guillen published in 1944. An Ácana is a tree that is indigenous to the American meridian. The tree serves different purposes in different regions, and looking at the tree from different perspectives results in different ideas about it. 'The piece conjures up the invisible connection of the roots of a very strong tree as they travel through the soil of the Americas,' explains Ms. Leon. 'A sonic palette of sounds that invisibly connect the cultures and soul of the peoples in the American continent.'

Ácana was commissioned by the Purchase College Conservatory of Music with the support of the New York State Music Fund.” Tania Justina León is profiled at Her own website is

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Karen Parks Sings “Nobody Knows - Songs Of Harry T. Burleigh”

[Nobody Knows - Songs Of Harry T. Burleigh; Karen Parks, soprano; Wayne Sanders, piano; Thirty Tigers 765324 (2008)]
David Macias of the music label Thirty Tigers has informed AfriClassical of his role in
producing the recording Nobody Knows – Songs of Harry T. Burleigh, a composer who is
profiled at

“It is an album of Harry Burleigh's music by a soprano named Karen Parks from Atlanta. The
album came out early this month and we actually debuted at #2 on the Billboard's Traditional
Classical chart, which I believe is the highest chart position ever for an album of music by an
African-American classical composer.”
Karen Parks, a native of Greenville, South Carolina, was chosen out of her school chorus at the age of 10 for special training. Her music education eventually resulted in her being awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for Voice, which enabled her to study with Maestro Gabriele Pisani at the prestigious La Scala in Milan, Italy. From there, she was asked to join the San Francisco Opera, where she sang the role of Micaela in Bizet’s Carmen. Her roles with various companies have included Nedda in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, Harriet Tubman in two different operas (Harriet and Frederick Douglass, and the title role in Anita, an opera about the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings.

Parks made her London debut as Cindy Lou (Micaela) in the West End production of Carmen Jones, Oscar Hammerstein’s reworking of Bizet’s opera Carmen. Her performance in that production resulted in a nomination for an Olivier Award. She is also a renowned vocal coach, having earned her Masters Degree in Music from the University of Texas, and has owned and operated the Studio For Vocal Refinement since 2002.

Accompanying Ms. Parks is pianist Wayne Sanders, the Musical Director of Opera Ebony in New York City, as well as Nashville’s ALIAS Chamber Ensemble. The album was recorded at Ingram Hall at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music and engineered by the legendary Bob Ohlsson.

Macias won the 2005 Grammy in the Traditional Folk category for his co-production of Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster. He also recently co-produced Song of America, a recording that follows the history of the United States through a 50-song cycle (to which Ms. Parks contributes 'Lift Ev’ry Voice And Sing').”