Tuesday, July 8, 2008

William Grant Still's “In Memoriam: The Colored Soldiers Who Died for Democracy” at Grant Park

[William Grant Still: Afro-American Symphony; Fort Smith Symphony; John Jeter, Conductor;
Naxos 8.559174 (2005)]

Michigan Civil War Blog
July 7, 2008
“At a concert in Millenium Park's Pritzker Pavilion last week, part of a program on American music during the freedom holiday week, a work by William Grant Still entitled "In Memoriam: The Colored Soldiers Who Died For Democracy" was played by the Grant Park Orchestra. Composed in 1930, some seven decades after the Civil War, its title evokes the unfulfilled promise of the new birth of freedom. Still attended Oberlin College (among several post-secondary institutions) -- was he there when Bruce Catton was (1916-17)?”

William Grant Still's
In Memoriam: The Colored Soldiers Who Died for Democracy (7:22) has been recorded by the Fort Smith Symphony; John Jeter, conductor; Naxos 8.559174 (2005). The work was commissioned by the League of Composers, and was premiered on Jan. 5, 1944 by the New York Philharmonic under Artur Rodzinski. David Ciucevich writes in the liner notes: “The New York Times critic Olin Downes remarked on its powerful 'simplicity and feeling, without affectation or attitudinizing'. The wording of the title does carry an ironic aspect, reflecting the fact that African-Americans were fighting for world freedom and civilization abroad while being denied those very freedoms at home.” The CD is readily available at music websites, including Amazon.com, where it can be purchased for as little as $4.19. [William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at AfriClassical.com]

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