Thursday, December 31, 2009

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

[José Silvestre White (1835-1918); photo from ]

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 in 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 Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, Professor of Music at Lawrence University Conservatory. 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 Pine, 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:

Comment by email
Violin Concerto in F-sharp Minor is a wonderful piece. Did José White compose a violin sonata or another piece for an ensemble smaller than the 42-piece Encore Chamber Orchestra? John Malveaux

Yéle Haiti: 'Trilogy and Voilà Honored by US State Department'

[After presenting the ACE Award, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton poses with (from left) Brad Horwitz, President of Trilogy International Partners; John Stanton, Chairman of Trilogy; Wyclef Jean; Bernard Fils-Aime, President, Fondation Voilà.]

On Nov. 29, 2009 AfriClassical posted: “Yéle Haiti, Wyclef Jean, OAS & École de Musique Sainte Trinité Launch 'Youth Orchestra of Haiti.'” A Newsletter post was made today on an award to a principal sponsor:
“Trilogy and Voilà Honored by US State Department - December 30, 2009

Yéle team, led by founder Wyclef Jean, was on hand in Washington, D.C as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented Trilogy International Partners with the Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE) on December 9, 2009. The company was recognized for their extensive corporate responsibility programs offered by its wireless telcommunications subsidiary, Voilà, and its contribution to economic development in Haiti and transparency of its business practices there.

Fondation Voilà [Voilà Foundation] has been a principal sponsor of Yéle Haiti since we launched in 2005.”

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sphinx Organization: 'Sphinx Programs and Founder on Fox News Tomorrow!' 3-4 PM & 7-8 PM ET

[Photo of Aaron P. Dworkin by Bruce Giffin, Detroit Public Television]

The Sphinx Organization announces that its video at will be shown on Fox News tomorrow, Dec. 31, 2009:
“Catch 'Real American Stories' on Fox News,” 3-4 PM ET; or 7-8 PM ET Dec. 31”
On the video Melissa White, violinist, Sphinx Laureate and member of the Harlem Quartet, joins in articulating the vision and unparalleled accomplishments in Classical Music Diversity of Aaron P. Dworkin, Winner of a MacArthur Genius Fellowship and countless other honors, who is Founder and President of the Sphinx Organization, headquartered in Detroit and serving the country. [Aaron P. Dworkin (b. 1970) is profiled at as a Musician of African Descent] Bio of Haitian Composer Julio Racine Has New French Version

[Julio Racine]

Renée Schwartz is a Research Engineer at l'Université de Liège in Belgium. She generously volunteered to translate the new page on the Haitian composer Julio Racine. Her translation was added to the website yesterday:

This contribution is very timely, because Black History Month will be observed in February in Canada, Jamaica and the United States. Julio Racine sends us this message:
“Thank you for the effort to obtain a translation of the page. This is very good and I will tell some of my friends in Haiti.”

For educators who would like to celebrate Black History Month as part of French instruction, offers a number of pages which have been translated by native speakers of French: Akpabot, Samuel Ekpe; Alberga, Eleanor; Brouwer, Leo; Coleridge-Taylor, Samuel; Dédé, Edmond; Dett, R. Nathaniel; Ellington, Edward Kennedy “Duke”; Joplin, Scott; Price, Florence Beatrice Smith; Racine, Julio; Saint-Georges, Le Chevalier de; Still, William Grant.

Roberto Sierra's 'Sinfonia No. 4' is First Work Composed for Sphinx Commissioning Consortium

[Roberto Sierra]

Sphinx Organization
“The Quarter Note,” Vol. 11, No. 1, Winter 2010
“Much like the musicians on classical music stages, there is little diversity among the composers whose work is performed on those stages. Intent on building diversity in this important aspect of classical music, Sphinx joined forces with twelve orchestras to commission a new work from a Black or Latino composer each year. Thus was born the Sphinx Commissioning Consortium.

"From a pool of nominees, the consortium awarded the commission to Roberto Sierra. His new Sinfonia No. 4 is the consortium's first completed piece. The Nashville Symphony Orchestra premiered the piece in October with Giancarlo Guerrero conducting. Performances by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, both consortium member orchestras, followed. After just a handful of performances, Sierra's piece is fulfilling the mission of the Sphinx Commissioning Consortium. Performances are already scheduled with orchestras around the country, including two that are not members of the consortium.”

The article indicates that the next three performances of Roberto Sierra's
Sinfonia No. 4 will be:
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra January 24, 2010
Richmond Symphony Orchestra February 6-7, 2010
Detroit Symphony Orchestra February 26-28, 2010
"Sinfonia No. 4 was commissioned in 2008 by the Inaugural Sphinx Commissioning Consortium’s founding members: Baltimore Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta (our nation’s most diverse orchestra), Cincinnati Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Grand Rapids Symphony, Nashville Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, New World Symphony (America’s Orchestral Academy), Philadelphia Orchestra, Richmond Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, The Sphinx Organization, Virginia Symphony."

Program Notes by Thomas May:
Puerto Rican-born composer Roberto Sierra has developed a unique style characterized by infusing classical forms and genres with Latin American idioms. The composer refers to the process of creating these vibrantly colorful hybrids as 'tropicalization.' The journeys that Sierra undertakes are not limited to the geographical. His compositions also travel freely across time. His Concierto barroco for guitar, for example, was inspired by the historical novel of the same name by Alejo Carpentier. The music treks back to the 18th century to conjure the novelist’s imagined meeting of Handel and Vivaldi with a slave from the New World.”

Monday, December 28, 2009

Dr. William Chapman Nyaho, U.S. Pianist of Ghanaian Heritage, Born Dec. 28, 1958

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

Dr. William Chapman Nyaho was born in Washington, D.C. But while still an infant he was taken by his parents to their native Ghana, where they raised him. Following his music education, he settled in the country of his birth. His biographical profile can be found at and at presents some of Dr. Nyaho's background, in anticipation of his return to Vashon Island, Washington State, for a performance at the Blue Heron Arts Center at 7:30 PM, Jan. 9, 2010:

“According to cd liner notes by friend/mentor, Maya Angelou, Chapman Nyaho, a famed concert pianist, chose compositions, which allowed him to display his virtuosity.”

“Youngest of six, Nyaho's musical aspirations were encouraged by his family in a home always filled with music. He earned his BA from Oxford University's Honour School of Music. He continued his piano studies at the Conservatoire de Musique de Geneve, Switzerland, the Eastman School of Music where he graduated with his Master of Music degree, and at the University of Texas at Austin, where he received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree.”

“Following four years as a North Carolina Visiting Artist, Nyaho taught at University of Louisiana at Lafayette and was recipient of the Distinguished Professor Award and held the Heymann Endowed Professorship. Nyaho recently served as Visiting Professor of Music at Maine's Colby College and Visiting Artist at Oregon's Willamette University. During summers he has taught for Interlochen Summer Arts Camp and Vermont's Adamant Music School. Based in Renton, Nyaho teaches privately when home from touring and teaching posts. Nyaho's book, [a 5-volume set of sheet music] Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora, and cds (both Piano Music by Composers of African descent) will be available at the concert.
Where: Blue Heron Art Center

Dr. Nyaho's latest CD, ASA: Piano Music by Composers of African Descent; MSR Classics MS1242 (2008), has recently received a resoundingly favorable review from a respected journal of music criticism:
“This is a very attractive, and most rewarding, recital of music, much, if not all, of which will be totally unfamiliar to the majority of those reading this. There’s a vast variety of styles and sounds here, many taking the European model as a starting point but each work quickly takes its own path in a most fascinating way.”

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Henry Fogel: 'Musicians need to hear from people like Aaron Dworkin of the Sphinx Foundation'

[Photo of Aaron P. Dworkin by Bruce Giffin, Detroit Public Television]

Henry Fogel is Dean of the Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University. Last month, he addressed the Annual Meeting of the National Association of Schools of Music. We present a brief excerpt from the speech, which can be read at:

“It is truly an honor to have been asked to speak with you today at this conference of the National Association of Schools of Music, especially when I consider all the work done by NASM member institutions, their administrators, faculty, and students, to advance music and its study throughout our nation over the last 85 years.”

“Musicians need to be sensitive to, and supportive of, efforts to diversify our world—strong, proactive efforts that will help to overcome a century of actual, real discrimination. While that situation has improved dramatically in our lifetimes, it is a very important and real part of our field’s history. Musicians need to hear from people like Aaron Dworkin of the Sphinx Foundation whose organization does a terrific job promoting string playing among young musicians of color, on the need for greater change in this area.” [Aaron P. Dworkin (b. 1970) is an African American violinist who is Founder/President of the Sphinx Organization. He is profiled at His creative interests are expressed at his website, where the items offered include Aaron's autobiography, “They Said I Wasn't Really Black.”]

Comments by email
I know Henry. He is a superb human being in every regard. Dominique-René de Lerma
Wow:)... I didn't know... He is fantastic! Aaron Dworkin
Thank you for promoting the wonderful work of Aaron Dworkin, and for the kind words. I appreciate them very much. I am proud that the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University will now have a formal relationship with Sphinx. Henry Fogel

Friday, December 25, 2009

Conductor & Composer Paul Konye Credits Akin Euba & Samuel Ekpe Akpabot in Interview

[ABOVE: “Made in the Americas, Volume One, Set One: Symphonies & Soundscapes, The Music Of Living Composers From The Americas”; Millennium Symphony; Robert Ian Winstin, conductor; ERM Media 5572 (2009) BELOW: Dr. Paul Konye]

On June 7, 2008, AfriClassical posted: “Millennium Symphony Will Record 'A Tone Poem for Africa' of Nigerian Composer Paul Konye.” The 2-CD set has since been released as “Made in the Americas, Volume One, Set One: Symphonies & Soundscapes, The Music Of Living Composers From The Americas”; Millennium Symphony; Robert Ian Winstin, conductor; ERM Media 5572 (2009). Paul Konye's composition, “A Tone Poem for Africa” (5:36) is included.
Feyi Raimi-Abraham interviews Dr Paul Konye, Nigerian Violinist, Conductor, Composer and Associate Professor of Music – Siena College, New York.
FRA Are there any other academically trained Nigerian conductors:
PK None that I know of at this point.
FRA What was your upbringing in Nigeria like?
PK I had a very fortunate upbringing in Nigeria in that I was raised by exceptionally loving parents who instilled proper values in me.
FRA How did you start playing the violin?
PK Though my love of music started in the Catholic Church, I had always wanted to play the violin but I did not get to study the violin formally until I declared to study Music (instead of the Sciences) as a teenager, during my A-level years at the Ibadan Polytechnic.
FRA You studied with prominent Nigerian musicians like Prof. Laz Ekwueme, Ada Fiberesima, Akin Euba, and Sam Akpabot – what was that like?
PK My interaction with the named icons of Nigerian art music was and remains invaluable. Each one of them provided me with uniquely different perspectives on music, and that has significantly shaped as well as added to the totality of who I am today, professionally." [Samuel Ekpe Akpabot and Akin Euba are profiled at]

'The Quarter Note': '13th Annual Sphinx Competition Semi-Finalists Announced'

[13th Annual Sphinx Competition Semi-Finalists, Photo from "The Quarter Note"]

Sphinx Organization
“The Quarter Note”
Vol. 11, No. 1, Winter 2010
“In November, entries poured in from all over the country for the 13th annual Sphinx Competition for young Black and Latino string players presented by DTE Energy Foundation. From the preliminary round, 18 young musicians have been invited to travel to Ann Arbor and Detroit to participate as semi-finalists in the Sphinx Competition. The Competition begins on February 3 and culminates in the Finals Concert on February 7, which will be recorded for broadcast on PBS stations.

“'We had an incredibly talented pool of applicants this year – many new faces as well as some past participants,' said Sphinx Artistic Director and Vice President of Programming Afa Sadykhly. 'We're looking forward to a great week with all these talented musicians.' This year's semi-finalists range in age from 13 to 25, and hail from 14 states. Four of them play cello, eight are violinists, four are violists, and two are bassists.

“The junior division semi-finalists are: Andrew Gonzalez of Chesapeake, VA; Annelle Gregory of San Diego, CA; Randall Goosby of Bartlett, TN; Brendon Elliott of Newport News, VA: Mariana Cottier-Bucco of Norristown, PA; Anna Maria Litvinenko of Miami, FL; Kenneth Alexander Jones-Madrid of Evanston, IL; Juan-Salvador Carrasco of Santa Monica, CA; and Xavier Foley of Marietta, GA.

“The semi-finalists of the senior division are: Victor Sotelo of Chicago, IL; Gareth Johnson of Wellington, FL; Javier Orman of Charleston, SC; Paul Laraia, III of Boston, MA; Britton Riley of Ann Arbor, MI; Nicholas Villalobos of Provo, UT; John Martin Sanderson of Bloomington, IN; Yunior Fernandez of Las Vegas, NV; and Lianna Dugan of Oberlin, OH.

“Every year, Sphinx assembles a distinguished panel of jurors who judge the Competition, provide feedback to all participants, and conduct masterclasses. This year, for the first time, a past Sphinx Competition Laureate will be on the jury panel. Joseph Conyers, a bassist in the Atlanta Symphony and second-place Laureate of the 2004 Sphinx Competition, will join the panel of distinguished jurors. The panel also includes Sanford Allen, the first Black permanent member of the New York Philharmonic and director of the Leef Peeper Concert series; Atar Arad, a violist and professor at Indiana University; cellist Paul Katz who is on the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music; Jose Serebrier, the Grammy-winning conductor and composer; Joel Smirnoff, violinist and conductor, President of the Cleveland Institute of Music, and first violinist of the Juilliard Quartet; and Nokuthula Ngwenyama, a concert violinist and violist.

“At stake are cash prizes totaling more than $25,000, performance opportunities with orchestras around the country, scholarships to top summer programs and universities, and a recording on the Naxos label.” “For information on tickets to the Finals Concert on February 7 in Detroit, visit us online at”

Dr. William Chapman Nyaho Performs at Blue Heron Art Center, Vashon Island, 7:30 PM, Jan. 9

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

Dr. William Chapman Nyaho was born in Washington, D.C. in 1958. But while still an infant he was taken by his parents to their native Ghana, where they raised him. Following his music education, he settled in the country of his birth. His biographical profile can be found at and at
“...concert pianist Dr. William Chapman Nyaho returns to the Vashon Island for a long-awaited encore performance. Briefly a Vashon resident, Nyaho last performed at Blue Heron Art Center in 2002.” “Known for his sparkling, virtuosic delivery and extraordinary musical sensibilities Nyaho will perform a combined program of classical repertoire (Liszt, Shubert, Bach), music by composers of African descent (Florence Price, Fred Onovwerosuoke, Oswald Russell) and more. He will also share insights and history about the music between pieces. According to cd liner notes by friend/mentor, Maya Angelou, Chapman Nyaho, a famed concert pianist, chose compositions, which allowed him to display his virtuosity.”

“Youngest of six, Nyaho's musical aspirations were encouraged by his family in a home always filled with music. He earned his BA from Oxford University's Honour School of Music. He continued his piano studies at the Conservatoire de Musique de Geneve, Switzerland, the Eastman School of Music where he graduated with his Master of Music degree, and at the University of Texas at Austin, where he received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree.”

“Following four years as a North Carolina Visiting Artist, Nyaho taught at University of Louisiana at Lafayette and was recipient of the Distinguished Professor Award and held the Heymann Endowed Professorship. Nyaho recently served as Visiting Professor of Music at Maine's Colby College and Visiting Artist at Oregon's Willamette University. During summers he has taught for Interlochen Summer Arts Camp and Vermont's Adamant Music School. Based in Renton, Nyaho teaches privately when home from touring and teaching posts. Nyaho's book, Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora, and cds (both Piano music by composers of African descent) will be available at the concert.
Where: Blue Heron Art Center
When: 7:30pm Saturday, Jan. 9, 2010

Ulysses Kay's 'Everett Suite' in University of North Texas Libraries Digital Collections

[Ulysses Kay: Works for Chamber Orchestra; Metropolitan Philharmonic Orchestra; Kevin Scott, Conductor; Troy 961 (2007)]

A 2002 doctoral thesis written by Christopher J. Gassler for the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts includes discussion of the “Everett Suite” for bass trombone of Ulysses S. Kay (1917-1995) and is now available in the University of North Texas Libraries Digital Collections,

“The contributions of Thomas G. Everett to bass trombone repertoire, literature, and research

Date: 2002-08
Creator: Gassler, Christopher J.
Description: Thomas G. Everett's activities as a catalyst for bass trombone repertoire and scholarship are significant in the development of further research in the field, and in the development of new performance repertoire. An examination of Everett's life and musical influences precedes the detailing of his pursuits of new solo/chamber music for the bass trombone. A discussion of Everett's efforts in obtaining new performance repertoire by means of commission or request is followed by an examination of four pieces composed for Everett. The four pieces profiled are Sonata Breve by Walter Hartley, Prelude, Fugue, and Big Apple by Walter Ross, Everett Suite by Ulysses Kay, and 100 Bars for Tom Everett by András Szöllösy. Three of these four pieces, the Hartley, Ross, and Kay selections, are the repertoire for the performance recital portion of this research.”

Ulysses Simpson Kay, Jr. was an African American composer, conductor and professor who was born on January 7, 1917 in Tucson, Arizona. He died in Englewood, New Jersey on May 20, 1995. Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma of Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin has generously made his research entry on Kay available to, where his complete Works List for the composer can be found. [Full Biography]

Thursday, December 24, 2009

PRIZM Winter Chamber Music Festival: Shady Grove Presbyterian Church, Memphis, Dec. 28-31, 2009

[ABOVE: Legacy: Works For Bassoon By African-American Composers; Lecolion Washington, bassoon; Albany Troy1038 (2008) BELOW: The PRIZM Ensemble of Memphis]

Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma reviewed Legacy: Works For Bassoon By African-American Composers for the Myrtle Hart Society. The review was republished by AfriClassical on Sept. 3, 2008. Prof. De Lerma has alerted us to the fact that Lecolion Washington, Associate Professor of Bassoon at The University of Memphis, is also Founder and Director of the PRIZM Winter Chamber Music Festival of Memphis:

The Inaugural Season of the PRIZM Winter Chamber Music Festival will take place at Shady Grove Presbyterian Church from December 28-31, 2009
Student, adult amateur, and aspiring professional musicians are invited to join us for the 2009 PRIZM Winter Chamber Music Festival. Attendees will have daily opportunities to work closely with world-class musicians who reside in Memphis. Students will receive training in chamber music in particular, and they will also be given a foundation in the fundamentals of the collaborative arts process.

Please take a moment to join our mailing list! All students will have opportunities to perform and selected participants will be invited to perform chamber music with the festival faculty on an evening concert. Additional participants will serve with faculty as members of the PRIZM Festival Orchestra which will perform without a conductor, a model made popular by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

The PRIZM Ensemble of Memphis
Anthony Gilbert, Executive Director of the Eroica Ensemble
Dan Gilbert, violinist of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra
Dan Phillips, horn professor at The University of Memphis
Timothy Shiu, violin professor at the University of Memphis
Michelle Vigneau, oboe professor at the University of Memphis
Carina Washington, clarinetist of the PRIZM Ensemble
Lecolion Washington, bassoon professor at the University of Memphis
Lois Hobbs Yu, pianist of the PRIZM Ensemble

Evening concerts given by the PRIZM Ensemble of Memphis are kid-friendly and will take place at Shady Grove Presbyterian Church on December 28 and 31. Childcare is provided with a reservation. Please call (901) 364-6454 to reserve a space in the nursery. In an effort to introduce young people to classical music, children in the nursery will be invited to enjoy select pieces on each concert. Admission to all concerts during the fesitival is free with a suggested donation of $10. The New Year's Eve concert will be followed by a reception and a New Year's celebration at 9:30pm.

3 From University of Central Oklahoma Play on Naxos CD of William Grant Still

[William Grant Still Symphonies Nos. 4 and 5; Poem for Orchestra; Fort Smith Symphony; John Jeter, Conductor; Cover Art: Currier & Ives; Naxos 8.559603 (2009)]
Dec. 16, 2009
Three musicians from the University of Central Oklahoma are among the performers who played on a recently released CD featuring symphonies by groundbreaking African-American composer William Grant Still. All three students, two of who have now graduated from UCO, performed with the Fort Smith Symphony in Arkansas when it recorded the CD last spring at The Arkansas Best Corporation Performing Arts Center.

"The CD of Still's Symphonies No. 4, No. 5 and 'Poem for Orchestra' was internationally released in late October and is available where classical music is sold. The Central musicians who played on the CD are Curtis Hansen, a senior who plays the viola and is majoring in music education; Timothy Hsu, who graduated with a bachelor's degree from the School of Music last December and is currently pursuing a master's degree in violin performance at the Peabody Institute of John Hopkins University; and Viktoria Matheson, who earned her master's degree in viola performance from Central last May and is teaching string fundamentals at the university as well as in a local school system.

"Hsu said what he enjoyed most was the opportunity to record such unique work. 'I had a blast. The music itself was very fun. It's not traditional. Very original writing,' Hsu said. Still was born in Mississippi in 1895, but grew up in Little Rock, Ark. 'He broke the black/white barrier in classical music,' said Becky Yates, director of marketing for the Fort Smith Symphony. 'Symphonies 4 and 5 had never been recorded so they were on the verge of being lost forever. It is very historically significant,' Yates said." "'I've become an avid fan of William Grant Still,' Hansen said." "The CD was produced by Naxos, which is based in Hong Kong and bills itself as the largest classical music label in the world." [William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at, where a complete Works List by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma is found.]

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges Born Dec. 25, 1745; New CD & MP3

[Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges Concertos pour violon; Orchestre de Chambre Bernard Thomas; Jean-Jacques Kantorow; Arion 68093 (1990)]

Joseph de Bologne, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges was born on Dec. 25, 1745 on the island of Guadeloupe, which was then a French colony. He spent his early childhood on his father's plantation, where Nanon, his mother, was a slave. Joseph's father sent him to France to attend school at age 8, and the boy arrived in August, 1753. Joseph's parents joined him in France and lived with him in Paris.
In October, 1756 the 13-year-old entered the fencing academy of Nicolas Texier de La Böessière, an elite boarding school. During six years of rigorous instruction in fencing and academic subjects, Joseph gained a reputation as one of France's leading fencers.

At 17, biographer Pierre Bardin tells us, he purchased the Office of Controller Ordinary of Wars, which entitled him to use the title “Le Chevalier.” Saint-Georges was an exceptional athlete who excelled in numerous outdoor activities, including riding, skating and swimming. His musical ability and education allowed him to master the harpsichord and violin, winning dedications of works from prominent composers, including Antonio Lolli in 1764 and François-Joseph Gossec in 1766.

Gossec founded Le Concert des amateurs, a prestigious ensemble of which Saint-Georges was first a violinist, then a concert master by 1771. Two years later he had begun composing and was chosen to succeed Gossec as conductor. From 1773-1775, he produced 8 violin concertos and 2 symphonies concertantes, according to the Works List compiled by Gabriel Banat. In 1775, only two years after Saint-Georges became Conductor, L'Almanach Musical [The Musical Almanac] wrote that the ensemble was "the best orchestra for symphonies in Paris and perhaps in Europe".

Saint-Georges applied for the position of Director of the Paris Opera, but some of the performers protested to the Queen that they could not take orders from “a mulatto”. The King yielded to the pressure to deny Saint-Georges the position, but the biographer Gabriel Banat has shown that an affair between a performer and a royal official may well have been the cause of the refusal. Saint-Georges was appointed director of the fashionable private theater of the Marquise de Montesson and was thus able to present a number of works written by himself and others. He reached his peak as a composer by 1778, helping to pioneer the string quartet and the symphony concertante in France.

Saint-Georges regularly played music with Queen Marie-Antoniette, a harpsichordist, at Versailles. The first orchestra went out of business in 1781 for financial reasons. Masons quickly organized a replacement, Le Concert de la Loge Olympique (Masonic Lodge Symphony). Saint-Georges was authorized to commission the six Paris Symphonies of Franz Joseph Haydn. He and the Concert de la Loge Olympique premiered the symphonies, Nos. 82-87, in a triumphant series of concerts in 1787. Queen Marie-Antoniette attended. Symphony No. 85 is called The Queen because it was Her Majesty's favorite.

Saint-Georges joined the National Guard during the French Revolution, but was soon appointed Colonel of the unit known as the “Saint-Georges Legion.” It was comprised of 1,000 volunteers of color. He and his troops fought with honor and distinction, but he was imprisoned on false charges. In spite of an acquittal, he was never reinstated to the French Army. In 1997 he took on his last musical ensemble, the Circle of Harmony. He died of an untreated bladder ailment on June 10, 1799. The newspapers of France paid tribute to him upon his death.

His music was no longer played often for nearly two centuries after his death. A major revival has occurred in the CD era, and many of his works are now available. Recent recordings include Sandrine Chatron's 2009 CD of music for harp Le salon de musique de Marie-Antoinette, including the Sonata for harp and flute of Saint-Georges on the Ambroisie label; and the 2009 release of an MP3 audio download at of Natalie Hinderas Plays Sensuous Piano Music by Berg, Ravel, Ginastera, Rachmaninov, Liszt and Saint-Georges, originally an Orion LP, which includes the Adagio in F Minor (6:25) of Saint-Georges. Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges has yet to receive full recognition of his achievements in either mainstream History or the standard concert repertoire. (Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges is profiled at

'Mississippi Symphony Orchestra Makes History in Natchez' With Music of William Grant Still

[William Grant Still; Photo is the sole property of William Grant Still Music, and is used with permission.]
Native Mississippian William Grant Still (1895-1978) was the first African American to conduct a major American symphony and the first African American composer to be performed by a major American symphony. He leaves an incredible legacy with his music, which is performed not only by orchestras, but also by chamber groups, choirs and soloists.

Music and the Arts: Still Our Only Future, a conference in tribute to William Grant Still, took place November 19-22, 2009 in Natchez with leaders and artists from all over the country. MSO was honored to present a concert on the opening night of this conference. The program included a diverse sample of Still's orchestral music, including the Mississippi premier of his Afro-American Symphony and the professional world premier of his A Deserted Plantation, written in 1933. The MSO String Quartet also premiered Still's String Quartets - The Folk Suites - in a workshop led by Music Educator Rufus Jones. The conference afforded MSO the opportunity to perform in Natchez for the first time in many years. [William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at, where a complete Works List by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma is found.]

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

John Malveaux: 'Lost Symphony About Slavery Reaches World Wide Web'

[Chorale Director Zanaida Robles runs through practice at Cal State Long Beach for the West Coast premiere of the Bicentennial Symphony. (Steven Georges / Staff Photographer, Long Beach Press-Telegram)]

AfriClassical has received a press release from John Malveaux of Long Beach California. John frequently contributes to the blog:

John Malveaux, founder of MusicUntold,
http://www.MusicUNTOLD, tried for many years to convince a U.S. orchestra to perform Roy Harris' Symphony No. 14, also known as the "Bicentennial Symphony." The work is a powerful statement on U.S. History and slavery. It premiered at the Kennedy Center in 1976 in celebration of our nation's Bicentennial. The symphony was scheduled to be performed the next weekend in Dallas, Texas. The score was said to have been lost on a flight from Washington, DC to Dallas. No archival recording had been made at the Kennedy Center premiere.

John Malveaux concluded that the composition would never be performed again unless he reconstructed the score and organized a performance. Roy Harris believed the Emancipation was one of the great American achievements of our first 200 years and that was his inspiration for composing the "Bicentennial Symphony.” The chorus-driven composition includes passages from the Preamble to the Constitution, the Gettysburg Address, and the Emancipation Proclamation as well as original passages. The work celebrates overcoming a dark side of American history and walking into the light.
After 33 years without a performance, the West Coast premiere was staged as the centerpiece of the Long Beach JUNETEENTH Celebration co-sponsored by the City of Long Beach Parks, Recreation & Marine Department and the Long Beach Central Area Association, on Saturday June 13, 2009 at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park. The performance was endorsed by the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, a federal agency in Washington, DC affiliated with the Smithsonian. The performance began with the singing of the National Anthem and may be viewed in its entirety at

Comment by email
Greetings: I continue to update/build a website. I have posted an interview of me about Roy Harris on the home page of Thanks, John Malveaux

Monday, December 21, 2009

Reston Community Orchestra Performs 'A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.' Jan. 16
“Performing Art
Date: Saturday, January 16, 2010 At 06:00 PM
Duration: 1 Hour
The Reston Community Orchestra, under the baton of Maestro Dingwall Fleary, will present 'A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.' This special concert is the lead off event for Reston’s annual celebration and features Jasmine Muhammad – soprano, Beverly Cosham - song stylist, and MetroSingers, an outstanding choral ensemble based in suburban Maryland. The program includes Symphony No. 1 by Adolphus Hailstork, and The Bamboula (Rhapsodic Dance) by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, along with a medley of Duke Ellington tunes.

“The program will be held on Saturday, January 16, 2010, at 6:00 p.m. at the Reston Community Center, Hunters Woods Village Center, 2310 Colts Neck Road, Reston, Virginia. Admission to the concert is complimentary. Your generous free-will donations in support of the orchestra are greatly appreciated. For more information, visit or call (703) 860-0108.”

“In addition to the Reston Community Orchestra, Fleary is music director and conductor of the McLean Symphony.
He is currently Director of Music and Organist at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Bethesda, Maryland. For five years, Mr. Fleary was a member of the Virginia Commission for the Arts and served as Vice Chairman during his last year. He is a member of the Friday Morning Music Club of Greater Washington and served for three seasons as music director of Wolf Trap's International Children's Festival. As a pianist, organist and harpsichordist, he enjoys a reputation as an excellent chamber musician, accompanist and coach.” [Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Duke Ellington and Adolphus C. Hailstork are profiled at]

Sunday, December 20, 2009

WFMT Airs Premiere of 'Tryptych' of Regina Harris Baiocchi Jan. 18, 2010

(Regina Harris Baiocchi)

AfriClassical has received an update from composer Regina Harris Baiocchi (b. 1956) about a premiere and a performance on a radio station in her home town of Chicago:
"Monday, 18 January 2010, CUBE Ensemble will premiere music they commissioned me to write titled
triptych for clarinet, percussion, and 'cello; and my piano sonata, Liszten will also be performed live on WFMT 98.7 FM 'Live from Studio One.' I'll be in great company. Music by Hale Smith, Valerie Capers and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson will be featured also. You may stream along at:,5,8

Regina Music of African American Composers Jan. 17 & 24

(Margaret Bonds)
Performing Arts Concert Series: 'Art for Goodness' Sake'
Sunday, Jan 17 (2010)
3:00p at Eden United Church of Christ, Hayward, CA
The opening concert for the series will be held on Sunday, January 17, at 3pm and features American Lyric Tenor, Lee Steward, singing songs by Schubert, L. Boulanger, and H. T. Burleigh. Proceeds go to the Eden Medical Center Foundation. Admission price is $15. Eden UCC is located at 21455 Birch Street, near the corner of Mission Blvd. Price: $15.00 Phone: (510) 582-9533

A Concert in Tribute to African American Composers
Sunday, Jan 24 (2010) 3:00p to 5:00p at Performing Arts Center, Eastside College Preparatory School, East Palo Alto, CA
Solo piano, two-piano, cello-violin-piano ensemble, and the vocal performance of acclaimed soprano Yolanda Rhodes, performing the works of African American composers: Leslie Adams, Margaret Bonds, Charles Brown, Valerie Capers, Betty Jackson King, Undine Smith Moore, Florence B. Price, Coleridge Taylor Perkinson, Billie Holiday, Howard Swanson, and William Grant Still.

Price: suggested donations: $15 for adults/$5 for seniors and students
Phone: (650) 996-1801
Ticket proceeds to benefit the Music Department of the Eastside College Preparatory School in East Palo Alto. (H. Leslie Adams, Margaret Bonds, Henry T. Burleigh, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, Florence B. Price and William Grant Still are profiled at

Comment by email
Thanks, Bill, for this information on this concert. Really appreciate. H. Leslie Adams

'Out of the Margins' with Darryl Taylor Feb. 15, California State Long Beach

AfriClassical has learned from John Malveaux of a program at 6:30 p.m., Feb. 15, 2010 at California State University, Long Beach:

Out of the Margins
Darryl Taylor, countertenor
Lukas Swidzinski, piano
Darryl Taylor, countertenor sings a program of masterful selections by underappreciated African American composers. This lively program simultaneously emphasizes the legitimacy of African American song while embracing the countertenor voice, underscoring the relevance and vitality of the fach.

The Bereaved Maid: George Walker
Death of Bessie Smith: Mark Fax
A Death Song: Howard Swanson
Joy: Swanson

Bronte Lieder (Emily Bronte): Robert Owen
The Old Stoic
Tell Me, Tell Me
Sleep brings no joy to me

Creole Girl: H. Leslie Adams
Sence you went away
For you there is no song
Amazing Grace

Mary Wore Three Links of Chain: arr. George Walker
This may be my las’ time: arr. Robert Morris
Guide My Feet: arr. Jacqueline Hairston
(H. Leslie Adams and George Walker are profiled at

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Author's Query on Music of Composer Philippa Duke Schuyler (1931-1967)

[Philippa Duke Schuyler (1931-1967) in May 9, 1951 photo from]

An author's query has been issued by John Malveaux, a frequent contributor to AfriClassical:
“Greetings: Please help locate any music composed by Philippa Schuyler. John Malveaux <>”

An AfriClassical post on Philippa Duke Schuyler was published Feb. 10, 2009. It included a link to the following source:
“Known as 'the baby genius of the Harlem Renaissance,' Philippa Duke Schuyler was a child prodigy who became quite famous for her youthful accomplishments as a composer and pianist. By the time she was four years old, Schuyler was a skilled pianist; by five she was performing Mozart before audiences in concert halls. When she was six, she was touring to perform her own compositions; in 1940, at the age of eight, she performed for thousands of visitors at the New York World’s Fair. She was ten when she became the youngest member of the National Association of American Composers and Conductors.”

Kelly Hall-Tompkins & Music Kitchen in New York Times: 'For the Homeless, Music That Fills a Void'

[Kelly Hall-Tompkins and Mark O'Connor playing in a shelter in the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Manhattan.]

On Dec. 15, 2009 AfriClassical posted “Kelly Hall-Tompkins & Mark O'Connor Perform O'Connor's 'Double Violin Concerto'” and two days later the two musicians performed for the homeless:
“These concertgoers were eight tired, homeless men who had been taken to the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church shelter for the night. They listened to the latest performance by Kelly Hall-Tompkins, a professional violinist who has been playing in shelters for five years under the banner of Music Kitchen.” “Music Kitchen has a catchy motto ('Food for the Soul'), T-shirts with a logo and a pool of donors. But the operation is essentially Ms. Hall-Tompkins, 38, an ambitious New York freelancer who plays in the New Jersey Symphony and has a midlevel solo and chamber music career.

“I like sharing music with people, and they have zero access to it,” Ms. Hall-Tompkins said of her homeless audiences. 'It’s very moving to me that I can find people in a place perhaps when they have a greater need for, and a heightened sensitivity to, beauty.' She invites musician friends to play and uses her networking skills to cajole prominent soloists into joining. They include Emanuel Ax, the pianist, and Albrecht Mayer, a principal oboist of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Hall-Tompkins asked Mr. Ax to take part when he was playing a concerto with the New Jersey Symphony, and she encountered Mr. Mayer in a Tokyo hotel hallway while both were on tour.

“The concerts have an air of authenticity and directness that sometimes does not exist in concert halls. Not all the listeners are new to classical music. One woman at a concert said the experience had been bittersweet because it brought back memories of working at the Boston Symphony Orchestra and 'how much my life has changed since.' For the performers, it can also be bittersweet. 'When I have people to play for, it means they are having really hard times,' Ms. Hall-Tompkins said. But the benefit is mutual. 'The artists, I find, are just as moved as the people we’re supposedly trying to help.' “Ms. Hall-Tompkins’s first concert was in 2004, when her husband, Joe Tompkins, a percussionist who volunteered as a cook at Holy Trinity, suggested she play for the men there.”