Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Herbert von Karajan (1908-1989) on Rhythm and Race, in 1963 'Stereo Review' Interview

[The Best of Herbert von Karajan; Deutsche Grammophon 349302 (2004)]

This year is the Centenary of the birth of the renowned Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan (1908-1989). Today AfriClassical received an E-mail from Bob Shingleton of the well-known classical music blog based in the U.K., “On An Overgrown Path”: Bill, Karajan on black musicians is interesting - http://www.overgrownpath.com/2008/09/karajan-on-boulez-stockhausen-and.html
Regards, Bob”. In a Sept. 30 post entitled “Karajan on the music of today,” the blog reproduces a 1963 interview of the conductor by Herbert Pendergast, in Stereo Review. The clipping from the publication is not entirely legible, but Bob Shingleton quotes an exchange in which Herbert von Karajan laments what he sees as the lack of natural rhythm in musicians of European descent. In a sense this clipping from 45 years ago is a postcard from another era, one in which racial stereotypes were widely accepted.

Imani Winds Play 'Afro Blue' in Jacksonville, Florida on October 5 at 3:30 p.m.

Imani Winds has established itself as more than a wind quintet. Since 1997, the Grammy nominated ensemble has taken a unique path, carving out a distinct presence in the classical music world with its dynamic playing, culturally poignant programming, genre-blurring collaborations, and inspirational outreach programs. With two member composers and a deep commitment to commissioning new work, the group is enriching the traditional wind quintet repertoire while meaningfully bridging European, American, African and Latin American traditions.”  “The Legacy Project kicked off in 2008 with world premieres by Alvin Singleton and Roberto Sierra. In 2008-09, Jason Moran's Cane will premiere at the Kimmel Center for the Arts in Philadelphia, followed by a performance at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall.”

The next performance of The Imani Winds will take place in St. Paul's by the Sea Episcopal Church in Jacksonville, Florida on Sunday, Oct. 5 at 3:30 p.m. The program will be
Afro Blue: Santamaria/Coleman; Five Poems: Karel Husa; La Nouvelle Orleans: Lalo Schifrin; Ten pieces for wind quintet: Gyorgy Ligeti; Portraits of Josephine Baker: Valerie Coleman; Libertango: Piazzolla/Scott.

Honoring An African Country's Composers

We are delighted to have received a comment from Dr. Fred Onovwerosuoke, whose home page at AfricanChorus.org says: "Born in Ghana to Nigerian parents, Onovwerosuoke grew up in both countries and eventually naturalized in the United States."  The website adds: "Onovwerosuoke maintains an active schedule as conductor, lecturer, cross-cultural educator, and composer-in-residence."  He comments: "Ghana, on the other hand has fared better.  Dr. Ephraim Amu (1899-
1995), Ghana's foremost choral composer, is one of the very few composers whose image graces his or her country's currency, on Ghana's 20,000 Cedi bill.  In addition, memorial lectures are held annually in his honor.  Prof. J. H. Kwabena Nketia (b. 1921) is not only a definitive scholar and composer in Western circles, he is equally a legend of almost mythic proportion in his home country of Ghana. In fact, Nketia, like President Mandela will eventually also be remembered as
one of those few world luminaries who received honor from his own people while still alive.  Nigeria, though possessing abundant resources that would rival or even surpass most developed nations of the West remains a tale of tragic parodies.  God bless us.  F."

Monday, September 29, 2008

Nathaniel Dett Chorale Opens 84th Season of Muskegon Community Concert Association

The Nathaniel Dett Chorale, Canada's first professional choral group dedicated to Afrocentric music of all styles, including classical, spiritual, gospel, jazz, folk and blues is coming to Muskegon.

Chorale group to perform Friday
Posted by The Muskegon Chronicle September 28, 2008

What: The Nathaniel Dett Chorale
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Where: Frauenthal Theater, 425 W. Western, Muskegon.
Tickets: General admission adult, $30; seniors, $25; students, $5. Season subscriptions: $75 per adult; $15 per student; $165 for two adults and children; $90 for one adult and children. Memberships can be purchased at the Frauenthal Box Office. Individual tickets available 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and prior to performances at the Frauenthal Box Office, at Star Tickets Plus Outlets in Meijer stores, online at www.starticketsplus.com or by calling (231) 727-8001 or (800) 585-3737. Information: (231)722-6520 or http://www.muskegonconcerts.org.

The Nathaniel Dett Chorale, comprised of 21 classically trained vocalists, will kick off Muskegon Community Concert Association's 84th season with a 7:30 p.m. concert Friday at the Frauenthal Theater. The performance is one of many events tied to the Muskegon Area Arts and Humanities Festival, which runs throughout October and has a theme of "tradition and change."

The Chorale's vision is to build bridges of understanding between communities of people, both Afrocentric and other, through its music. The group's mission is to be a premier performer of Afrocentric composers -- past, present and future -- and to educate audiences and communities regarding the full spectrum of Afrocentric choral music.

Founder Brainerd Blyden-Taylor named The Chorale after internationally renowned African-Canadian composer R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943), who performed at prestigious concert halls such as Carnegie Hall and Boston Symphony Hall. Dett was dedicated to the cause of Black music, winning the Bowdoin and Francis Boott prizes in 1920 from Harvard University.

Based in Toronto, Ontario, Blyden-Taylor established The Chorale to draw attention not only to Dett's legacy, but also to the wealth of Afrocentric choral music, and to create a professional choral group where persons of African heritage could see themselves represented in the majority. Since its inception in 1998, The Nathaniel Dett Chorale has performed extensively throughout Ontario and the United States in critically acclaimed extended tours. [Full Post]  [R. Nathaniel Dett is profiled at AfriClassical.com]

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Syracuse Symphony Orchestra Opens Concert With James P. Johnson's 'Victory Stride'

[Victory Stride: The Symphonic Music of James P. Johnson; The Concordia Orchestra; Marin Alsop, Conductor; Music Masters 67140 (1994)]

SSO Launches Classics Series Friday 
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Daniel Hege
SSO Music Director
The Syracuse Symphony Orchestra begins its Post-Standard Classics Series 2008-09 season this weekend with two of our own musicians, Associate Concertmaster and Liverpool native Jeremy Mastrangelo and Principal Cello David LeDoux, headlining as guest artists. We are proud to have musicians of such high caliber in our midst, and look forward to showcasing their musical gifts in a composition that has become recognized as a warm, yet profound work of genius by Brahms.

James P. Johnson's energetic and uniquely American "Victory Stride" opens the concert. Composer of the popular "Charleston" of 1920s fame, Johnson is also known as the father of stride piano, also called "Harlem stride" or "New York ragtime," the athletic solo style that paved the way from ragtime to true jazz. This musical style gets its name from the way the left hand "strides" back and forth between low bass notes on the strong beats of each measure and chords higher up on the in-between beats. In this work, the music dances back and forth among the various sections of the orchestra, with a climax that uses the full ensemble. This is an electrifying work to open not only this concert, but the entire Classics series. [Full Post] [James Price Johnson (1894-1955) is profiled at AfriClassical.com]

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Street Names of Abuja, Nigeria's New Capital, Do Not Honor Fela Sowande or Akin Euba

[Akin Euba; The Organ Works of Fela Sowande: Cultural Perspectives by Godwin Sadoh; Quality Paperback (2007)

Written by Obi Nwakamma
Sunday, 28 September 2008

LET me start by congratulating the administration of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja for finally doing the right thing. Well, perhaps, we should say, for finally coming, like Solomon to judgment, on the matters of naming the streets of Abuja. This past week, the FCT released a list of names of Nigerians for whom streets are to be named in Abuja. That is a good thing. A city contains cultural memory. It is the mark, indeed the archive of a particular kind of memory: how a people have moved through time and space; a marker of taste and significance. Abuja is a new city, carved straight from virgin land.” “Among Nigeria’s great cultural icons of the 20th century would certainly be counted great composers and musicians like Fela Sowande, Laz Ekwueme and Akin Euba. Yet the FCT list does not count them as worthy as Kanu Nwankwo.” [The Nigerian composers Fela Sowande (1905-1987) and Akin Euba (b. 1935) are profiled at AfriClassical.com]  [Full Post]

Sphinx Brings Message of Diversity to Carnegie Hall

The Sphinx Laureates at Carnegie Hall presented by Chase--October 21.
New York, NY, September 27, 2008 -- The Sphinx Organization, the national organization dedicated to building diversity in classical music, will return to Carnegie Hall for a performance on October 21. The concert will feature the acclaimed Sphinx Chamber Orchestra and the Harlem Quartet. The Sphinx Laureates at Carnegie Hall is presented with generous support from Chase.

The concert at Carnegie Hall is just one performance on the orchestra’s first national tour. The tour will take the orchestra to eight cities from the Midwest to New England.

The Sphinx Chamber Orchestra will take the stage at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday, October 21 at 6:00. Tickets are $20, and available through the Carnegie Hall Box Office at (212) 247-7800 or www.CarnegieHall.org. VIP and Box Seat tickets are available through Sphinx by calling (646) 429-1987 ext 713.

The Sphinx Chamber Orchestra comprises top alumni of the Sphinx Competition for young Black and Latino string players. Conductor Chelsea Tipton II will lead the orchestra. Tipton is Resident Conductor of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra. He has also appeared as a guest conductor with the Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, and New World Symphony Orchestras and the Boston Pops Orchestra.

The Harlem Quartet, comprising first-place Laureates of the Sphinx Competition, has a unique and challenging mission: to advance diversity in classical music while engaging young and new audiences through the discovery and presentation of varied repertoire, highlighting works by minority composers. The Quartet has performed around the country, including three performances at Carnegie Hall.

Inspired by Sphinx’s artistic mission, the concert will offer standard repertoire along with masterpieces by Black and Latino composers. Pieces by Schubert, George Walker, Vivaldi, Villa-Lobos, and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson will be featured.

“Ten years ago, I could only dream about an orchestra of Black and Latino musicians touring the country, said Aaron Dworkin, Founder and President of Sphinx. “This year, that dream becomes a reality. The Sphinx Chamber Orchestra is part of the new face of classical music that will shape the way young people connect with classical music.” Dworkin founded Sphinx in 1996 while a student at the University of Michigan. His work with the organization has been recognized around the world. In 2005, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship for his pioneering work. [Full Post]

Friday, September 26, 2008

William Levi Dawson, African American Composer & Choral Director, Born Sept. 26, 1899

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

William Levi Dawson (1899-1990) was an African American composer, professor and choral director. Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma, Professor of Music at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin has been writing about Black classical music for four decades: “He was born in Anniston Alabama and ran away from home at age 13 to enter Tuskegee Institute (at this time youngsters wishing a full pre-college education could only secure this on a college campus). While there he studied with Frank L. Drye and Alice Carter Simmons, played in the schools’ instrumental ensembles, served as music librarian, and toured for five years with the Institute Singers. His initial activity as composer began when he was 16.” “In 1921, when graduated from Tuskegee, he spent a year at Washburn College in Topeka, Kansas and directed the music program at the Topeka Vocational College. He was engaged that summer as tenor and trombonist with the Redpath Chautauqua. Following this he enrolled at the Horner Institute of Fine Arts in Kansas City Missouri, where, in 1925, he won his B.M. degree, but was not allowed on stage to receive his diploma.”

“From 1922 to 1926 he taught at Lincoln High School in Kansas City, Kansas. From here he went to the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago (M.M., 1927), performing as first trombonist with the Civic Orchestra (1926-1930). After graduating, he studied with Carl Busch and Regina G. Hall. Additional work was undertaken at the Eastman School of Music. He was also a private student of Adolf Weidig, Horvard Otterstrom, and Felix Borowski.” William Levi Dawson returned to Tuskegee Institute to teach in 1931. Prof. De Lerma writes: “He was virtually the entire music faculty at Tuskegee from 1931 to 1956.” “Dawson appeared at times to be disgruntled and, following his annual resignations from Tuskegee, was allowed his freedom in that last year. His tours as choral conductor started in 1956, when the State Department sent him to Spain.” Three honorary doctorates and two Wanamaker awards were among the many honors received by William Levi Dawson, according to the research entry.

Dawson's Negro Folk Symphony (28:26) was recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Neeme Järvi, Conductor, on Chandos 9226 (1993). Michael Fleming's liner notes follow the work from its origins in Chicago to its premiere in Philadelphia and to the comments of a music critic for a New York newspaper: “Dawson began work on the Negro Folk Symphony while in Chicago. On tour with the Tuskegee choir in New York he showed the manuscript to the conductor Leopold Stokowski, who made suggestions for its expansion. In this form, comprising three movements, it was first performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1934. The critic for the New York World Telegram was at the premiere and he praised the symphony's 'imagination, warmth, drama---[and] sumptuous orchestration'. In its overall shape, and especially in its orchestration, the symphony falls into the late-Romantic tradition.”

After a trip to West Africa in 1952, however, the composer revised it to embody authentic African rhythmic patterns, and it was in this form that Stokowski recorded it, and it is most frequently played today.” Leopold Stokowski recorded the work for Decca Records in 1961. The LP has since been reissued on CD by Deutsche Grammophon as DG 477 6502 (2007). Alan Newcombe says in the liner notes that the work was important to the evolution of the American symphony. William Levi Dawson died in Montgomery, Alabama on May 5, 1990. His spirituals have been widely sung by choral groups for several generations.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mzilikazi Khumalo and SAMRO Play “...Pivotal role in keeping South Africa's music heritage alive”

The South African composer Prof. Mzilikazi Khumalo (b. 1932), who is profiled at AfriClassical.com, is a Board Member and Vice-Chair of the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO).
Artslink.co.za News
Thursday, Sept. 25, 2008
The Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) plays a pivotal role in keeping South Africa’s music heritage alive – a role that is underscored by several key initiatives. Among these is SAMRO’s part-sponsorship of the South African Traditional Music Awards (SATMA) that takes place in Durban this weekend and are held to recognize the role played by traditional music in the South African music industry. As a concrete indication of SAMRO’s support for this part of the country’s music terrain, the organization is presenting two high-profile awards at SATMA.” “The South African Traditional Music Awards (SATMA) will be held on 27 September 2008 at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli ICC, in Durban.”

Indeed the Music Archive at SAMRO holds more than 103,000 scores that have been handed over to the organisation for safekeeping since 1962 – making SAMRO the custodian of the biggest collection of South African music scores in the country. Among these are key South African works by iconic composers including Princess Magogo - Princess Constance Magogo Sibilile Mantithi Ngangezinye ka Dinuzulu - who is widely considered one of the country’s most important composers, as well as works by SAMRO board member and vice-chair, Prof. Mzilikazi Khumalo.” “The South African Traditional Music Awards (SATMA) will be held on 27 September 2008 at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli ICC, in Durban. 

Monday, September 22, 2008

UK Black History Month Press Release: 'Black Mahler: The Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Story'

[African Heritage Symphonic Series, Vol. 1; Samuel Coleridge-Taylor; Chicago Sinfonietta; Paul Freeman, conductor; Cedille 90000 055 (2000)]

This press release dated Sept. 21, 2008 has been received from Charles Elford:
October is the UK’s Black History Month and is being celebrated this year with the publication of Black Mahler: The Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Story’ written by British charity worker Charles Elford to mark the event. English Coleridge-Taylor, born to a white mother and black father in 1875, was the first person of African descent ever to conduct a white orchestra in America. He was a founding member of the Pan-African Movement and in November 1904 was granted the unprecedented honour of a private audience with President Roosevelt who was deeply concerned about the prejudice suffered by many in the US.

Coleridge-Taylor, a contemporary of Elgar, Holst and Vaughan Williams, wrote the highly successful choral trilogy ‘The Song of Hiawatha’ whilst still a student at the Royal College of Music. This work made him an international superstar overnight, but he sold the rights to it outright for just 15 guineas (about £15 / $30), so he never reaped the huge financial rewards he deserved. The British Performing Rights Society was established soon after his death to ensure musicians were paid a fair price for their work. Coleridge-Taylor rubbed shoulders with royalty and the popular celebrities of his day but he continuously struggled against poverty, personal tragedy, racial prejudice and overwhelming obstacles. He literally worked himself to death shortly after a very close shave with a certain ‘unsinkable’ trans-Atlantic liner. He died on 1st September 1912 at the age of just 37 but his cheerful and optimistic outlook on life was and is now again, truly inspirational. Charles Elford said, “Although Coleridge-Taylor was a cultural icon to people all over the world, he had a very special place in the hearts of Americans. He continues to be an extremely influential figure internationally, not just musically, and he really doesn’t deserve his current obscurity. Just the fact he was of mixed race in a very white Victorian England makes his story a compelling one for all of us.

Journalist, broadcaster and multi-cultural commentator Yasmin Alibhai-Brown told us “If it was fiction you wouldn’t believe this stirring story. A mixed race gifted composer, with the most English of names, makes his mark against the odds and yet, like so many other such geniuses, is brought down, too, too soon. All should know the legend that was Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Most don’t and that’s the greatest pity of all.” Highly acclaimed international opera director David McVicar said, “Charles Elford has written a lucid and touching account of Coleridge-Taylor's life. A book that deals as much with the social history of Edwardian Britain as it does with music and the art of this unjustly neglected Composer." Charles Elford is developing a screenplay based on his book and he’s not be the only one to believe there’s a Hollywood blockbuster in it; Norman Lebrecht (broadcaster, award-winning novelist and Assistant Editor to the London Evening Standard) said, “It’s an incredibly human story which, in my view, would translate extremely well to film.” For more information, visit http://www.blackmahler.com [Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) is profiled at AfriClassical.com

Sunday, September 21, 2008

David Baker's 'Ethnic Variations On A Theme Of Paganini' Will Be On Kelly Hall-Tompkins CD

[In My Own Voice; Kelly Hall-Tompkins, violin; Craig Ketter, piano; Anna Reinersman, harp; MSR Classics (2008)]

AfriClassical recently posted “William Grant Still's 'Summerland' Will Be on 'In My Own Voice' by Kelly Hall-Tompkins, Violin”. A second African American composer, Dr. David N. Baker, will also be represented on the new MSR Classics CD when it is released. Dr. Baker is a composer, performer and Professor who is Chair of the Jazz Studies Department at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music. His contribution to the recording is a work which is the subject of a 2002 Master's Thesis submitted to Louisiana State University by Heather Koren Pinson, “Aspects Of Jazz And Classical Music In David N. Baker's Ethnic Variations On A Theme Of Paganini”: “David Baker's Ethnic Variations On A Theme Of Paganini (1976) for violin and piano bring together stylistic elements of jazz and classical music, a synthesis for which Gunther Schuller in 1957 coined the term 'third stream.'" 

"In regard to classical aspects, Baker's work is modeled on Nicolò Paganini's Twenty-fourth Caprice for Solo Violin, itself a theme and variations. From Paganini, it borrows aspects of melody, harmony, and articulation, not only of the theme but also the variations. In regard to jazz, Baker transforms most variations (including the theme, which in comparison to Paganini's is already a variation) into distinct styles related to jazz, including spiritual, blues, swing, bebop, funk, and calypso. He alludes to these styles by imitating their melodic characteristics, rhythmic patterns, and harmonies.”  The violinist's website offers an audio sample (3:07)."

African American Pianist Leon Bates Performs Oct. 5 in Seaport Museum, Philadelphia

Sun. October 5th at 3:00 @ Seaport Museum Auditorium, Penn's Landing, Philadelphia

The Settlement Music School's Distinguished Alumni Recital Series showcases former students and celebrates the School's role in shaping and nurturing their talents. This concert features works by Beethoven, Ravel, Gershwin and Liszt. A reception with the artist follows the performance. Tickets and information: Settlement Music School 215 320-2686

As one of America's leading pianists, Leon Bates has earned for himself a place on the international concert circuit. His performance schedule includes dates across the United States, in Canada, Italy, France, Austria, Ireland, England as well as Africa. He is invited to perform on the major concert stages around the world and audiences and critics find his musical spirit to possess all the elements of greatness. (To see the complete Philadelphia area calendar of Black Classical Musicians and Concerts, click Here).

Saturday, September 20, 2008

William Grant Still's 'Summerland' Will Be on 'In My Own Voice' by Kelly Hall-Tompkins, Violin

Violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins will soon release In My Own Voice, a CD on which she will be joined by Anna Reinersman, harp and Craig Ketter, piano. Works on the CD are: Kreisler Recitativ and Scherzo for Violin Solo; Suk Liebslied; Ysaye Ballade; Bach Chaconne; William Grant Still Summerland; David Baker Ethnic Variations on a Theme of Paganini. Kelly's Website is http://www.KellyHall-Tompkins.com

In addition to her performing career, she is Founder and Director of Music Kitchen, whose Mission is:
To bring top emerging and established professional musicians together in order to share the inspirational, therapeutic, and uplifting power of music with New York City’s disenfranchised homeless shelter residents.” The violinist's website offers audio samples from the forthcoming CD, including William Grant Still's Summerland (2:23).

Kelly Hall-Tompkins is one of New York City's most in-demand violinists, whose dynamic career spans solo, chamber, and orchestral performance. Ms. Hall-Tompkins was winner of a 2003 Naumburg International Violin Competition Honorarium Prize as well as a Concert Artists Guild Career Grant in 1996, leading to numerous solo recitals in New York and the surrounding area. In the winter of 2007, Ms. Hall-Tompkins was invited by actress Mia Farrow and conductor George Matthew to be soloist in Carnegie Hall for a Benefit for the Victims of Darfur, hosted by Ms. Farrow. [William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at AfriClassical.com

José Mauricio Nunes Garcia, Afro-Brazilian Composer, Born September 22, 1767

[La Passion du Baroque Brésilien; Missa de Nossa Senhora do Carmo; José Mauricio Nunes Garcia; Association of Choral Singing; Cleofe Person de Mattos, Director; Camerata de Rio de Janeiro; Henrique Morelenbaum, Director; Jade 75443-2 (1991)]

José Mauricio Nunes Garcia (1767-1830) was an Afro-Brazilian composer and organist who was the grandson of slaves. Antonio Campos Monteiro Neto is Webmaster of an extensive illustrated Brazilian Website in English and Portuguese with numerous audio samples, José Mauricio Nunes Garcia: http://www.geocities.com/nunes_garcia/JM_Eng.htm  The Webmaster has made his wealth of resources available for use at AfriClassical.com, and begins by noting that 240 works of music by José Mauricio Nunes Garcia have survived, and that early biographers estimate his total output at nearly twice that number.

Garcia wrote his earliest surviving work, “Tota pulchra Es Maria”, in 1783. Garcia joined the brotherhood of Saint Cecilia as a music teacher in 1784. He wrote “Litany for Our Lady in 4 voices and organ”, and by 1788 he was composing anthems and acapella works for church services. He gained fame in 1790 with his “Funeral Symphony”. Garcia was ordained as a priest in March, 1792. The chapel master died in 1797 and was succeeded by Garcia. The Royal Family took refuge in Brazil in March 1808, and clerics who accompanied them tried to remove Garcia from his position because of his race. Garcia was then told to concentrate on composition. His works that year included the “Missa Pastoril”, recorded in 1998 by Ensemble Turicum. Two masterpieces were the “Requiem Mass” and the “Officium for the Dead”.

A Royal wedding in 1817 included skilled musicians from Europe, giving Garcia the opportunity to compose “12 Divertimenti”. That was also the year in which Garcia composed the first Brazilian opera, “Le Due Gemelle” (“The Two Twins”), which was destroyed by fire in 1825. Monteiro Neto tells us that in December 1819 Garcia conducted the first Brazilian performance of Mozart's “Requiem” (K 626). His last work was the “St. Cecilia's Mass”. José Mauricio Nunes Garcia died on April 18, 1830. Garcia's “Missa Pastoril para Noite de Natal” is among his compositions found on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTiGBWxmfvQ&feature=related

Friday, September 19, 2008

Comment on Learning Theremin to Play Scott Joplin's 'A Real Slow Drag' from 'Treemonisha':

[Scott Joplin's Treemonisha; Original Cast Recording; Polygram 435709 (1992)]

Earlier this week, AfriClassical posted “Learning The Theremin To Play 'A Real Slow Drag' From Scott Joplin's 'Treemonisha'". We received this comment from Rashida Black, Founder/Executive Director of The Myrtle Hart Society, http://www.MyrtleHart.org: “A friend of mine suggested that I watch Clara Rockmore perform Claire de Lune on Youtube a couple of years back. It was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen--like sign language mixed with Arabic and Turkish dance, she manipulated energy with her hands to produce the most amazing soprano sound. One of the most spellbinding things I've ever seen. What an instrument. Thanks, as always, for sharing. Rashida”  In response to Rashida's suggestion, we found Clara Rockmore's performance of Clair de Lune on theremin on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSzTPGlNa5U

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Morning Call: The Wittchen Initiative Performs Works of Scott Joplin on Harp and Vocals

[Scott Joplin Piano Rags; Joshua Rifkin, piano; Nonesuch 79159 (1990)]

By Philip A. Metzger | Special to The Morning Call 
September 18, 2008 
The Wittchen Initiative, which consists of mother Andrea and daughter Samantha on harp, and daughter Alex on vocals, will perform Friday in the Old Chapel of Central Moravian Church. Their program is an unusual one, a mix of American songs by Cole Porter, George Gershwin and Scott Joplin. Both Andrea and Sam are well-known harp performers and teachers in the area. The Wittchen Initiative, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Old Chapel of Central Moravian Church, West Church and Main streets, Bethlehem. Freewill offering. 610-866-5661.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Learning The Theremin To Play 'A Real Slow Drag' from Scott Joplin's 'Treemonisha'

[Piano Rags; Roy Eaton, piano; Sony SBK 833 (1995)]

On theremin playing...
12:31 am 9/17/08
purple bovine
Yes, I got a theremin. Don't ask me what I was thinking. I think I was thinking about playing ragtime on it. God help me. In any case, I've had said theremin for a month now. I was farsighted enough to not acquire a speaker for it - the only way for it to provide sound output is through earphones. I sound awful. Beyond awful. I sound like a tone-deaf five-year-old learning to play the violin. If the output were audible to anyone but me, I'd die of embarrassment - or I'd die of being strangled by my roommate. Not sure which one would kill me first.

But that said, I think I am progressing. I am presently working on a tune from Scott Joplin's opera "Treemonisha" called "A Real Slow Drag", which actually would sound quite good on a theremin if I knew how to play one. It's slowly getting closer and closer to being in tune. The nice thing about being a beginner, at anything, is that progress is very visible. One day you didn't know how to do whatever-it-is, and the next day you learned it and now you know it. At a more advanced level, the "lightbulb moments" don't come as often - though they still come. I had a piano-related "lightbulb moment" this summer, at the Scott Joplin Festival - all of a sudden, I figured out how to improvise. It was thrilling. And yes, the third year of law school is very relaxing. I've been looking forward to this for two years now. I think I've earned a bit of relaxation.  [The Ragtime and Classical Composer Scott Joplin (1868-1917) is profiled at AfriClassical.com]