Wednesday, December 31, 2008 Art Beat, Music: “Harlem Quartet, Strads 'Take the A Train'”

[Take the 'A' Train; The Harlem Quartet; White Pine Music (2007)] NewsHour: Art Beat – Music
Posted by Mike Melia, December 31, 2008
The Harlem Quartet continues to break new ground in the world of classical music, and at the group's recent performance at the Library of Congress, a bit of music history was made, too. "There's definitely been people who have played jazz on a Strad before, no doubt," first violin Ilmar Gavilan said, referring to the legendary instruments made by Antonio Stradivari and the jazz standard written by Billy Strayhorn for Duke Ellington's orchestra. "But a quartet playing jazz, and specifically this arrangement, which is pretty recent, I think I'm going to go out on a limb -- this is history!" [Continue Reading] [The Harlem Quartet is an ensemble of the Sphinx Organization, whose Founder/President, Aaron P. Dworkin (b. 1970), is profiled at]

José Silvestre White y Lafitte, Afro-Cuban Composer & Violinist Born Dec. 31, 1835

[Cancion Sin Palabras; La bella Cubana; Martha Marchena, piano; MSR 1054 (2002)]

José Silvestre White, or José Silvestre White y Lafitte, was an Afro-Cuban violinist who became a composer and professor after graduating from the Paris Conservatory. He is profiled at His mother was Afro-Cuban and his father Spanish. Josephine Wright, Professor of Music at the College of Wooster, in Wooster, Ohio has published an article Violinist José White in Paris, 1855-1875, in Black Music Research Journal, Vol. 10, No. 2, Fall 1990. She explains that White's earliest training in music came from Don Carlos White, his father, who was an amateur violinist. She adds that his subsequent teachers were José Miguel Roman and Pedro Lecerff, and his first concert took place in Matanzas on March 21, 1854. Prof. Wright notes that White's accompanist was the prominent New Orleans composer and pianist Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869), and that he raised the travel expenses for the young man's trip to Paris.

The article tells of José White's success at the Paris Conservatory, as evidenced by his First Grand Prize in Violin on July 29, 1856. White joined the faculty of the Paris Conservatory, and later toured the Americas from 1875-1877. We learn from Prof. Wright that he appeared with the New York Philharmonic twice during the 1875-1876 season, and also performed in Boston, Washington and Philadelphia. Prof. Wright tells us José White served as director of the Imperial Conservatory in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 1877 to 1889, when she reports he returned to live in Paris until his death in 1918. Gordon Root gives an overview of White's surviving sheet music in Africana Encyclopedia: “Many of his works still survive today, including a concerto, a string quartet, a collection of studies for violin, and several nationalistic pieces such as Marcha cubana, and perhaps his most famous composition, the habanera (a Cuban dance in slow duple time) La Bella cubana.”

A full catalogue of José White's surviving compositions has been compiled by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma, Professor of Music at Lawrence University. It is found in the same issue of Black Music Research Journal as Prof. Wright's article. One recording of the music of José White is Violin Concertos By Black Composers of the 18th and 19th Centuries, Cedille 90000 035 (1997), which includes his Violin Concerto in F-sharp Minor (21:34) performed by Rachel Barton, violin and the Encore Chamber Orchestra led by Daniel Hege, Conductor. Another CD is Cancion Sin Palabras, MSR 1054 (2002). José White is represented by La Bella Cubana, performed on piano by Martha Marchena. The website of the IberoAmerica Ensemble features audio and video versions of La Bella Cubana:


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

'Songs of Africa' from Oxford University Press Collection Released on CD by AMP Records

[Songs of Africa: Selected performances from the collection by Oxford University Press; Photo credit, Alicia Strong, Kirkwood Community College Choir; AMP Records AGCD 2083 (2008)]

On August 7, 2008 AfriClassical posted: “Oxford University Press: 'Songs of Africa', Compiled and Edited by Fred Onovwerosuoke”. The book is a paperback and has 140 pages. Here is an excerpt from the post: “The songs cover subjects such as spirituality, religion, community, work, and play, and are selected from many African countries including Nigeria, Ghana, Congo, Benin Republic, South Africa, Namibia, and Gambia.” Today we are pleased to inform our readers of the release of a companion CD, Songs of Africa: Selected performances from the collection by Oxford University Press; Photo credit, Alicia Strong, Kirkwood Community College Choir; AMP Records AGCD 2083 (2008). The Executive Producer is Dr. Fred Onovwerosuoke, Founder of the ensemble originally known as the St. Louis African Chorus.

The African Chorus website explains the group's mission and its new name: “The African Musical Arts, Inc. (AMAInc), formerly African Chorus, was founded to foster a better understanding of Africa’s cultures through the musical arts.” The liner notes of the CD read, in part: “If you have the book then you already noticed that this CD features only 13 of the 22 songs in the book.” All of the tracks were recorded live by one of seven choral groups, whose warm and energetic performances evoked loud applause from the audiences: 
Kirkwood Community College Choir – Ray Salucka, director
Winneba Youth Choir – John Francis Arthur-Yamoah, director
Boys Choir of Kenya – J. Muyale Inzai, director
Namibia National Youth Choir – Ernst van Biljon, director
Muungano National Choir – Boniface Mganga, director
Village Harmony Youth Camp – Fred Onovwerosuoke, instructor
St. Louis African Chorus – Ablawa Reine, coordinator

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Pianist Frank Townsell Thanks AfriClassical For Posting On CD 'Blind Boone's Piano Music'

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

On Feb. 29, 2008 AfriClassical posted: “Frank Townsell, African American Pianist Of CD 'Blind Boone's Piano Music'”. Here is an excerpt: “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.” Frank Townsell sent this E-mail Dec. 27, 2008: “Hi Bill, I'm wishing you and yours the Best in 2009 and even greater achievements for you and your wonderful company. John "Blind" Boone is much the better known thanks to you and your efforts to promote his legacy. Sincerely, Frank” AfriClassical is pleased to have played a small role in increasing public awareness of John Boone and of Frank Townsell's recording of Boone's works for piano on Laurel LR-860CD (1998). 

Stamford Symphony Orchestra Uses Sphinx Organization Artists As Guest Soloists

[Photo of Tai Murray from]

The Advocate Staff
Posted: 12/28/2008 07:25:27 AM EST
Draw a mental image of a symphony orchestra concert. Blacks and Latinos don't fit the sketch as musicians or audience members, do they? Actually, multiplicity doesn't play into the photographs of most professional orchestras, either, save for a growing number of Asians in the string sections. Diversity is a hot topic in the symphony world. Not only is the typical classical enthusiast getting longer in the tooth, but orchestras in cities across the country are struggling to reflect the communities they represent. The Stamford Symphony Orchestra's next concerts in January, titled 'American Voices,' will feature guest soloist Tai Murray on violin, and James Reese Europe's 'Castle House Rag.' The concerts mark the start of a new affiliation between the orchestra and Michigan-based Sphinx Organization, a nonprofit that encourages diversity in symphony orchestras in respect to musicians, composers and audience members. The symphony has committed to using one Sphinx artist as a guest soloist each season and has plans to factor diversity into many aspects of its operations.

"'If you start addressing diversity as a challenge and try to find solutions to it, you have to do it on a regular basis,' says SSO musical director Eckart Preu. Barbara Soroca, president of the SSO, has thought about the issue for some time, particularly when the orchestra would perform for Stamford school groups. 'School classes are a microcosm of the community. Stamford is now more than 30 percent Hispanic and black. That's not represented on our stage or any classical orchestra stage. There's a disconnect. The children must wonder, Why doesn't anyone on that stage look like me?'" [Tai Murray is a member of the Ritz Chamber PlayersAaron P. Dworkin is an African American violinist as well as Founder/President of the Sphinx Organization. He is profiled at]

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ghanaian-American Pianist, Professor & Editor William Chapman Nyaho Born Dec. 28, 1958

[ASA: Piano Music by Composers of African Descent; William Chapman Nyaho, piano; MSR Classics MS1242 (2008)] 

William H. Chapman Nyaho was born in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 28, 1958. He was to become a virtuoso pianist, gifted professor of music and dedicated collector and editor of piano music of the African Diaspora. When he was only ten months old his parents returned to their native Ghana with him. He grew up there and graduated from Ghana's Achimota School after studying piano with John Barham. Nyaho received his B.A. in Music from Oxford University in the U.K. After studies in piano at the Conservatoire de Musique in Geneva, Switzerland, and with Henri Gautier, he earned a Master of Music degree at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Nyaho studied with David Renner at the University of Texas at Austin, where he received his Doctoral degree in Music.

Dr. Nyaho's credits include a landmark 5-volume anthology of sheet music published by Oxford University Press, Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora. His first solo piano CD of works of composers of African descent is Senku, Musicians Showcase 1091 (2003). Nyaho's newest recording is ASA: Piano Music by Composers of African Descent; MSR Classics MS1242 (2008). The composers represented on the CD come from the far corners of the African Diaspora. [Dr. William H. Chapman Nyaho is profiled at]

Works of Adolphus Hailstork & William Grant Still Heard at Santa Monica Symphony MLK Concert

[Top: William Grant Still (Photo is the sole property of William Grant Still Music, and is used with permission.) Bottom: Adolphus C. Hailstork]

The Santa Monica Symphony's annual program in recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will include Adolphus Hailstork's First Symphony and William Grant Still's Panamanian Dances:
Date: January 18, 2009 Time: 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM; Doors open at 3:PM Location: SGI Auditorium: Free Parking at 1212 7th St. (just south of Wilshire) Address: 525 Wilshire Blvd , Santa Monica Cross Streets: Wilshire Blvd. / 6th Street Phone: (310) 395-6330 Admission: Free Kid Friendly: School age children are welcome and get to meet the conductor and have their programs signed after the concert. Accessibility: Wheel Chair Access, Website:

Description: Each year the Santa Monica Symphony dedicates its January concert to Martin Luther King and includes music by great African-American composers. This year the orchestra will play Adolphus Hailstork’s powerful First Symphony and William Grant Still’s lively ’Panamanian Dances’. The program also features gold medal winning Filipino-American pianist Jovanni-Rey de Pedro playing the very popular Brahms’ Second Piano Concerto. This concert is given in association with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Westside Coalition. This one concert each year is not in the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and it is advised to arrive early at the SGI Auditorium to be sure of a seat. [Adolphus Cunningham Hailstork (b. 1941) and William Grant Still (1895-1978) are among the 52 composers and musicians of African descent who are profiled at A comprehensive Works List for William Grant Still has been compiled by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma, along with a Bibliography on the composer. Both have been made available to the William Grant Still page at]

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Broad Street Review: 'My Croatian piano debut' by Maria Thompson Corley

[The author (right) in Cavtat with e-pal Ivana: An unusual chain of events, to say the least.]

We recently found this comment about an article at “A composer checks in”   Re “My Croatian piano debut,” by Maria Thompson Corley — Great article. Maria Corley shows she’s a fine writer as well as a fantastic pianist. I’m also proud that she chose my work as part of her repertoire. H. Leslie Adams, Cleveland, Ohio October 22, 2008

“As a performing pianist, I was told that I should have a website. But I couldn’t afford one, so I got a page on instead.” “One day I was visiting a fellow musician’s page when I spotted a picture that seemed to radiate life. I clicked on the image, listened to some gorgeous Bach and wrote a comment, the gist of which was that it was a pleasure to see and hear such a luminous spirit conveyed visually and aurally. I got a lovely message in return, and my correspondence with Ivana Marija Vidovic was born.

Ivana was in the process of organizing the first Epidaurus Festival, which consisted of 11 concerts held in Cavtat, near her hometown of Dubrovnik, Croatia. Based on my audio clips and our messages, she invited me to perform during the second festival, scheduled for a year after our online meeting. In return, I promised to try to get Millersville University, where I’m currently employed, to sponsor a visit from Ivana, who is scheduled to perform at Duke University in North Carolina in January 2009. I sent some e-mails to my Millersville colleagues, obtained the necessary commitments (which included covering my airfare to Europe) and reserved space in the hall. [Full Post] [H. Leslie Adams (b. 1932) is profiled at]

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges Negotiated Commission for Haydn's 'Paris Symphonies'

[Le Mozart Noir: Music of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges; Tafelmusik Orchestra; Jeanne Lamon, conductor; CBC Records SMCD 5225 (2003)]

The Paris Symphonies are a group of six symphonies written by Joseph Haydn on commission from Count d'Ogny for performance by the Concert de la Loge Olympique in Paris.  Parisians had long been familiar with Haydn's symphonies, which were being printed in Paris as early as 1764.” “The work was composed for a large Parisian orchestra called 'Le Concert de la loge “Olympique"' (Orchestra of the 'Olympic' (Masonic) Lodge). This organization consisted in part of professionals and in part of skilled amateurs. It included 40 violins and ten double basses, an extraordinary size of orchestra for the time.” “They performed in a large theater with boxes in tiers. The performances were patronized by royalty, including Queen Marie Antoinette, who particularly enjoyed the Symphony No 85, giving rise to its nickname.”

“The actual negotiations with Haydn were carried out at Ogny's request by Joseph Boulogne, the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, the talented leader of the Loge Olympique orchestra. Haydn was paid 25 louis d'or for each symphony plus 5 louis for the French publication rights; the sum was apparently very satisfactory from Haydn's point of view, since the lack of copyright laws had generally prevented him from profiting much from his popularity as a composer.” [Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges and the Concert de la Loge Olympique premiered Haydn's 6 Paris Symphonies,  Nos. 82-87, in a triumphant series of concerts in 1787. Saint-Georges is the subject of several pages at the website, covering his biography, fencing career and selected recordings.] 

Music of Thomas Wiggins and John William Boone, Blind Black Pianists, at Strathmore Jan. 29

[John Davis Plays Blind Tom, Newport Classic 85660 (1999)]
Presented by Strathmore
Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 7:30 PM
“Born a slave, Blind Tom Wiggins possessed a rare gift for the piano. His masters fully exploited his talent, earning thousands from his performances. John William Boone, also born blind, 'wore out 16 pianos' in his lifetime, according to legend. Pianist John Davis, whose recording of Blind Tom’s works received glowing reviews, prompting him to record his recently released album of the music of Blind Boone, recreates two fascinating chapters in American musical history.” [Thomas “Blind Tom” Wiggins (1849-1908) was blind and autistic, but his musical genius marveled audiences in the U.S. and Europe, earning a huge income for his owners and managers. Almost none of the concert proceeds went to Tom. Wiggins died at the home of his manager in Hoboken, New Jersey at the age of 59. An authoritative biography is Blind Tom, The Black Pianist-Composer: Continually Enslaved; Geneva Handy Southall; Scarecrow Press (2002). Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma, Professor of Music at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, has contributed a comprehensive Works List and Bibliography for the Thomas Wiggins page at]

Monday, December 22, 2008

NPR News & Notes: 'Opera World Finds New Voice In Eric Owens'
News & Notes, December 22, 2008 - The rich, velvety tones of Eric Owens' bass-baritone voice have made him a rising star in the opera world. Owens made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in October. Tonight, he opens in the Met's production of Mozart's The Magic Flute. He speaks with Farai Chideya about his latest artistic endeavors and breaking down barriers as an African-American opera singer. [The interview lasts 11:33]

Sunday, December 21, 2008 'The Basso Profundo', Morris Robinson, African American Opera Singer

Our friend Sergio Mims in Chicago sends us this interview recently published in
Friday, December 12, 2008
By Sergio A. Mims
Few singers in the classical music world have made a bigger splash in recent years than bass Atlanta native Morris Robinson.
A graduate of The Citadel Military College in South Carolina where he was a football star, Robinson worked for a while as an executive at 3M before deciding to devote his rich voice to classical music. Since then he has quickly risen in the music world, making his mark in roles such as The Commodore in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Sarastro in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Ramfis in Verdi’s Aida and many other operas by Richard Wagner, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Hector Berlioz and Richard Strauss. Upcoming are concert recitals N.Y., Washington D.C., and Philadelphia and opera performances as Sarasto and Fasolt in Wagner’s Das Rheingold at the Los Angeles Opera. had an opportunity to talk to Mr. Robinson about several things including his career, how he prepares for a role, and what roadblocks he has encountered.  EBONY: First off, one thing that perhaps really annoys me is that people who don’t know much about classical music think that it’s stuffy, too difficult or something that you have to wear formal clothes to listen to. It’s just music after all.  ROBINSON: Classical music has always been considered as being for the aristocracy -- for those born with a silver spoon in their mouths and that’s simply not the case. I mean I was first drawn into classical music because… well first of all I love all kinds of music. I grew up playing the drums in church. I’m the son of a Baptist minster, the grandson of a Baptist minister. I’d been around church music all the time. But I also had this desire to hear different things and when I first heard classical music I was drawn to it. And how did I come to sing opera? I mean it came to me. I had this voice and I went to a high school of performing arts and was introduced to classical music then. And I took a liking to it. I kind of took naturally to it. And of course my voice being as it is, it doesn’t really fit into any other kind of music genre, so I was kind of led to this life so to speak.” [Full Post]

Saturday, December 20, 2008

'Black History at New York City Opera': 60th Anniversary of William Grant Still's 'Troubled Island'

[Just Tell the Story – Troubled Island; Judith Anne Still and Lisa M. Headlee, Editors; Cover Art by Noni Olabisi; Photo of Troubled Island Mural, Willie R. Middlebrook; The Master Player Library (2006)]
Friday, December 19, 2008; Posted: 01:12 PM – by BWW News Desk 
In honor of Black History Month, City Opera co-presents a three-part series, Black History at New York City Opera, with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The first program, 'I'm on My Way': Black History at City Opera on Wednesday, January 28, 2009, commemorates the rich African-American contributions to City Opera's heritage and the great African-American works and artists who have graced City Opera's stage. Continuing with 'One Fine Day': A Tribute to Camilla Williams on Wednesday, February 11, 2009 and 'Troubled Island': 60th Anniversary Celebration on Tuesday, March 31, 2009, the programs feature discussion, live performance, special guests, historic slides and audio and video clips. All three events take place at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, located at 15 Malcolm X Boulevard in New York City.” 

"'Troubled Island': 60th -Anniversary Celebration - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 at 7:00 PM With this program, we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first world premiere in City Opera history: Troubled Island by William Grant Still, so-called "Dean of African-American composers", and Langston Hughes, 'Poet Laureate of Harlem', whose ashes rest in the foyer of the theatre named for him at the Schomburg Center. First performed at City Opera on March 31, 1949 (exactly 60 years before this evening), Troubled Island became the first work by an African-American composer to be presented by a major American opera company. Soloists from Harlem's esteemed Opera Noire will offer narrated excerpts, in concert, from Troubled Island, based on the fascinating history of the Haitian slave rebellion of 1791. The evening will begin with an introductory talk by Howard Dodson, distinguished Chief of the Schomburg Center, and a brief talk by City Opera dramaturg Cori Ellison on the tempestuous history of this all-too-rare American masterwork.” [William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at]

Friday, December 19, 2008

Albany Records Releases 'Somewhere Far Away: The Music of Julius Williams'
Albany Records is proud to announce the release of Somewhere Far Away: The Music of Julius Williams. Repertoire includes Toccatina for Strings; Somewhere Far Away; and A Journey to Freedom, Honor and Glory; An American Hero John Daniels. The music is performed by Gabrielle Goodson, soprano; Armstead Christian, tenor; Roy L. Belfield, piano; Louise Toppin, soprano; Desiré Dubose, mezzo-soprano; Julius P. Williams, III, tenor; Fred Wygal, narrator; The Reston Singers; The Winston-Salem University Choir under the direction of D’Walla Simmons Burke; and the Dvorak Symphony Orchestra conducted by Julius Williams. Those familliar with Albany Records will probably know the name Julius Williams. Mr. Williams has recorded extensively as a conductor and he is particularly well known for championing the music of African-Americancomposers and performers. While several of his compositions have appeared on previous recordings (Midnight Tolls; He’ll Bring it To Pass), This is the first disc in our catalog that is devoted to his music. The three works presented here were composed at different points during Mr. Williams’ long career and each provides a new and interesting glimpse into the life and musical philosophy of this remarkable man. In Toccatina for Strings, Mr. Williams episodically travels through the many styles of string usage. Somewhere Far Away is included as a tribute to Joe Westmoreland and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, both of whom participated in the creation of this piece. A Journey to Freedom, Honor and Glory; An American Hero John Daniels honors the life and death of civil rights activist Johnathan Daniels, who died at Hayneville in 1965. Julius Williams leads an active professional life as a conductor, composer, recording artist, educator, and author. He has conducted orchestras throughout the U.S. and abroad including The Vermont Symphony, The Washington Symphony Orchestra of Washington, D.C., The Prague Radio Symphony, The Dvorak Symphony Orchestra, The Brno State Philharmonic, The Music Festival of Costa del Sol, Spain, and others. He has also served as Assistant Conductor to Lukas Foss at The Brooklyn Philharmonic and The American Symphony Orchestra. As a composer, Mr. Williams has created works for virtually every genre of contemporary classical performance and his compositions have been premiered by the Nutmeg Ballet, the New York Philharmonic, the Detroit Symphony, and the Reston Chorale and Orchestra in Virginia. His film score for Lifetime TV’s “Fighting for Our Future” won the Gracie Allen Ducumentary Award of 2003. Mr. Williams has served as the Artistic Director for a number of organizations including the Washington Symphony Orchestra and is currently the Artistic Director of WorldStage, Inc.  He is also Professor of Composition and Conducting at Berklee College of Music. SOMEWHERE FAR AWAY (TROY1072) is available online at, at fine record stores or from Albany Music Distributors, 915 Broadway, Albany, NY 12207 • 1.518.436.8814 For More Information: Susan Bush • 1.518.436.8814 December 2008 [Julius Penson Williams (b. 1954) and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (1932-2004) are profiled at] Keith Ingham 'says James P. Johnson was the best of the stride-style pianists'

[Victory Stride: The Symphonic Music of James P. Johnson; The Concordia Orchestra; Marin Alsop, Conductor; Music Masters 67140 (1994)]
Published December 19, 2008 
By Simon Jay Harper 
“As a pianist, Ingham was keen to discuss some of the piano legends of jazz, in particular the names from the first fifty or sixty years of the music. James P Johnson was a pianist that Duke Ellington learned from, by placing his hands over the keys raised up and down by the piano rolls he inserted into the player piano machines of the day. Johnson's most influential record was the famous 'Carolina Shout.' Ingham says Johnson was the best of the stride-style pianists of that era, and was, in the words of Duke Ellington, 'pure magic.'" [Full Post

James Price Johnson was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey on February 1, 1894. His biography is James P. Johnson: A Case of Mistaken Identity by Scott E. Brown. Brown also wrote the liner notes for the CD Victory Stride: The Symphonic Music of James P. Johnson, Music Masters 67140 (1994). The biographer writes that Yamekraw: A Negro Rhapsody was the first work to bring to life Johnson's dream of being a serious composer: “The foreword to 'Yamekraw' describes the intent of the work as 'A genuine Negro treatise on spiritual, syncopated and “blue” melodies by James P. Johnson, expressing the religious fervor and happy moods of the natives of Yamekraw, a Negro settlement situated on the outskirts of Savannah, Georgia.” “'Yamekraw' was the first realization of Johnson's desire to be considered a serious composer.” James Price Johnson died in New York City on Nov. 17, 1955 after suffering his eighth stroke at home. Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington and James Price Johnson are among 52 Black composers and musicians who are profiled at

Thursday, December 18, 2008

'Feminissimo!' CD Features 'The Deserted Garden' of African American Composer Florence Price

[Florence Beatrice Smith Price (1887-1953); Feminissimo; The Deserted Garden; Florence Price, composer; Laura Kobayashi, violin; Susan Keith Gray, piano; Troy 1081 (2008)]

University of South Dakota:
VERMILLION, S.D. -- Susan Keith Gray, professor of music at The University of South Dakota and a pianist with the Rawlins Piano Trio, and violinist Laura Kobayashi of Washington, D.C., announce the release of their second CD, 'Feminissimo! Women Playing Music by Women.' 'Feminissimo!' is a mixture of romantic and contemporary character pieces and sonatas written by composers of Spanish, French, Norwegian, American, Polish and Czech heritages. The American works represent African-American and Jewish-American influences. The disc, produced by Albany Records, features nine compositions, including four world premier recordings from contemporary composers Elisenda Fábregas and Emma Lou Diemer, and by early 20th century composers Anna Priscilla Risher and Signe Lund. Other composers included are Grazyna Bacewicz, Florence Price, Meira Warshauer, Pauline Viardot-Garcia and Vítezslava Kaprálová.

The Kobayashi/Gray Duo formed in 1990 at the University of Michigan where both musicians were completing doctoral degrees. In 1993, they toured South America and the West Indies as winners of the USIA Artistic Ambassador auditions. They continue to tour throughout the United States and abroad, performing standard repertoire as well as works by women composers. The artists are enthusiastically praised for their blending of brilliant technique, beautifully expressive musicianship, impeccable ensemble and stimulating programming.” The CD is available from the National Music Museum in Vermillion, and from websites including and [Full Post] [Florence Beatrice Smith Price (1887-1953) is profiled at]