Monday, January 12, 2009

Clarksdale Press Register: 'William Grant Still exhibit on display through January 16'

[William Grant Still: Inspired to Inspiring Exhibit, Clarksdale Press Register, Clarksdale, Mississippi]

William Grant Still exhibit on display through January 16
Staff Writer
Thursday, January 8, 2009 2:16 PM CST
Between the Delta Blues Museum, Theo's Rock 'n' Roll Museum, various Blues Trail markers and other cultural hotspots around Coahoma County, there is no shortage of information for those seeking out the rich musical heritage of Mississippi. The newest exhibit now on display at Carnegie Public Library is yet another location. William Grant Still: Inspired to Inspiring, tells the story of the Woodville, Miss. born composer who was the first African–American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra. Made up of eight free-standing panels, the exhibit begins with Still’s childhood in Miss. and Ark. and runs through his time working with W.C. Handy in Memphis, all the way to his years in Los Angeles creating musical scores for popular TV shows and movies. In addition to writing more than 150 compositions in his lifetime, Still is also known as one of the first composers to merge blues and jazz themes into traditional European classical forms. One of Still’s quotes displayed in the exhibits exemplifies this approach to music. In referring to his best known piece, Symphony No. 1 “Afro-American” Still writes: “I knew I wanted to write a symphony; I knew that it had to be an American work; and I wanted to demonstrate how the blues, so often considered a lowly expression, could be elevated to the highest musical level.” Inspired to Inspiring will be at Carnegie Library through Jan. 16. The exhibit is owned by Delta State University and will be on tour through various other libraries and academic institutions throughout Mississippi this year. [William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at]

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