Monday, March 30, 2009

Ritz Chamber Players Perform Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson at Spring Concert, April 8

Ritz Chamber Players
Wednesday 04.08.09 7:30 p.m.
Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts, in the Jacoby Symphony Hall
“Please join us for a captivating concert featuring the works of Crusell, Perkinson, Piazzolla and Mendelssohn. Single Ticket Price - $30. Tickets To 2 Concerts - $50 per person.
Spring Concert and Season Finale (May 27, 7:30 p.m.) Purchase tickets by phone (904) 354-5547 or online

Kelly Hall-Tompkins and Kyle Lombard - Violins
Chauncey Patterson and Amadi Hummings – Violas
Kenneth Law -Cello
Terrance Patterson – Clarinet

VIP reception in the Davis Gallery, during intermission and following each concert, is open to season ticket holders and to people who purchase tickets to both the Spring Concert and Season Finale.
Founded in 2002 by Artistic Director and clarinetist Terrance Patterson, the Ritz Chamber Players perform chamber works from the traditional European repertoire, as well as highlight works by contemporary African American composers. [Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (1932-2004) was an African American composer and conductor who is profiled at, where a complete Works List by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma may be found]

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Nyaho's CD 'Asa: Piano Music by Composers of African Descent' at All Music Guide

[William Chapman Nyaho - Asa: Piano Music by Composers of African Descent]

Dr. William Chapman Nyaho is a pianist, music editor and music professor who was born in Washington, D.C. to Ghanaian parents in 1958, and raised in Ghana from the age of 10 months. He is profiled at, and sends us word of this review of his new CD, MSR Classics MS1242, by James Manheim of All Music Guide: “Hi Bill check this out.. love the way this reviewer ties it all together.”
"This release by American pianist William Chapman Nyaho, who is of Ghanaian background, collects music by black composers in a way that has rarely if ever been done before, and it's highly recommended to anyone interested in the intersection of African music with European concert forms. The program is unusual and instructive in two ways. First, it's cross-generational. Much of the music is by contemporary composers, but there are also a few classics of the genre like Florence Price's Dances in the Canebrakes. Nyaho brings out the continuities between the generations, with the basic impulse toward drawing on African-based rhythmic materials intact even as the younger composers add contemporary techniques. The program also includes more non-American than American pieces, and here, too, Nyaho makes a powerful case for the African diaspora as a musical unity. The older pieces are especially interesting in this regard. 'Pomme Cannelle' (Cinnamon Apple) from Guadeloupean composer Alan Pierre Pradel's Sept Pièces Créoles, could have passed for a piece of American ragtime. Much of the music has never been recorded before, and several of the African pieces are real finds. Sample especially South African composer Bongani Ndodana's Flowers in Sand, with its delicate impressionist portraiture superimposed on rhythms on the Venda culture."  [Full Post] [William Chapman Nyaho, Florence B. Price and Alain Pierre Pradel are profiled at]

The Allmusic Blog: Brouwer & Roldán Among Cubans Who 'have made lasting contributions'

[Leo Brouwer & Amadeo Roldán]
March 27th, 2009 | 8:15 am est | Uncle Dave Lewis
Multi-talented Cuban composer, guitarist and conductor Leo Brouwer turned 70 on March 1; Brouwer is perhaps the most renowned of living Cuban composers, and this inspired us to take a look back at some of the Cuban composers throughout history who have made lasting contributions to the world of concert music. Leo Brouwer began to compose in 1955 at age 16, and even in those early years produced works of high quality such as his Danza Caracteristica (1957), regarded today as a classical guitar standard.” “From 1976 he entered into his mature vein, which Brouwer calls 'New Simplicity;' it encompasses input from popular and classical music, Afro-Cuban music and the avant-garde. A hand injury interrupted Brouwer’s career as guitar soloist, and while he has recovered, Brouwer has moved into conducting.”

Amadeo Roldán (1900-1939) was the father of Cuban modernism; when his ballet La Rebambaramba (1928) was conducted by Ernest Ansermet in Paris, Roldán became the first Cuban composer of serious music to be heard in the concert halls of Europe. Roldán was greatly interested in percussion, and his Ritmicás Nos. 5 and 6 (1930) appear to be the first Western musical works for predominantly non-pitched percussion, and without piano; Roldán is also credited with adding the claves and guiro to the concert percussionist’s arsenal of instruments. Roldán was from 1927 conductor and later music director of the Havana Philharmonic and taught composition at the Havana Municipal Conservatory; after the revolution, it was renamed the Amadeo Roldán Conservatory in his honor. Amadeo Roldán died of cancer at the age of 38.” [Amadeo Roldán and Leo Brouwer are profiled at]

Friday, March 27, 2009

Violinist Samuel Thompson, Featured Member at
EmilyB | Mar 26, 2009 10:48 am 
A native of Charleston, South Carolina, Fractured Atlas member Samuel Thompson began playing violin at a young age and made his debut at the age of eighteen with the Carolina Amadeus Players Chamber Orchestra. He studied at both the University of South Carolina and Oklahoma State University, earning the Master of Music degree from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University where he studied with Kenneth Goldsmith and Raphael Fliegel. Currently living in New York, Samuel recently took time out from his busy schedule of performing, editing recordings and writing about music and the arts to answer a few of my questions…

What’s next on your professional horizon?
At this moment I am continuing my fund raising efforts, with one goal being to participate in competitions in both the United States and Europe during the next three years. I am also continuing my associations with Carpetbag Theatre and Alternate ROOTS, and am working on what will be my first recording. With all of this, however, I have to say that “life can happen while you’re making plans”, so while my projects are dear to me — and some of them time-sensitive — I am also open to what the universe brings if I can bring the best of myself to it.

How can we learn more about you, hear your music, and learn about your tour schedule?
I have a blog/website ( that contains a lot of information about my career and history as well as my performance schedule and my thoughts on many things. Both my concert schedule and audio samples can be found at ReverbNation (, a tremendous global online service for musicians.

The Telegraph: 'Pianist spotlights black composers' at Georgia Military College March 31

[Gershwin: 3 Preludes, 6 Songs; Corea: 20 Children's Songs; Leon Bates, Piano; Naxos 8.550341 (1989)]

"For Leon Bates, pivotal moments have defined his career.  He points to his solo debut at Carnegie Hall in 2000. There was his appearance in the 1990s with the Duke Ellington Orchestra directed by Mercer Ellington in Rome, Italy. Much earlier, as a junior at Temple University, he performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra. And his upcoming concert at Georgia Military College in Milledgeville carries similar potential. But it is not built upon his music alone. Although he is considered a leading American pianist and composer, Bates will perform classical music by other black composers. Bates noted that his Milledgeville program will feature black composers 'who have been a part of the musical tradition in this country going back to the 1800s.  That part of black culture is lost on the American society.'

"He said that his performance program highlights two living composers, George Walker and Leslie Adams. Walker earned a Pulitzer Prize for his composition 'Lilacs' in 1996. Bates deems both 'prolific composers' who are composing music for a variety of formats, which include full orchestra, chamber orchestra, small ensembles, vocal and choral groups. Bates said that he knows both musicians. And whenever he performs their music, he routinely sends them programs from the concerts. The second part of Bates’ program focuses upon a critical early phase in the development of jazz music. He plans to perform selected work from Eubie Blake, James P. Johnson and Duke Ellington.

"This phase 'deals with the legacy of ragtime (music) and East Coast stride piano, which set the tone of the traditional jazz genre.' Furthermore, he wants to make sure that R. Nathaniel Dett, a classically trained pianist from Oberlin Conservatory of Music, is heard, too. A 1908 Oberlin graduate, Dett composed 'Juba Dance,' a personal favorite of Bates. Bates encourages a broader appreciation of what he calls 'intellectual music.'  [Full Post]  [H. Leslie Adams, R. Nathaniel Dett, Duke Ellington (1899-1974), James P. Johnson and George Walker are profiled at]

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mzilikazi Khumalo's Opera 'Princess Magogo' Opens in Pretoria on Saturday
March 26, 2009
By Diane de Beer
Opera is flying at the moment and one of the most exciting productions is the return of Opera Africa's Princess Magogo, which tells the story of the princess who distinguished herself as the Zulu nation's first female composer. Opening in Pretoria at the State Theatre on Saturday, it first premiered in Durban in 2002. Sandra de Villiers, Opera Africa founder and chief executive, initiated Princess Magogo as an attempt to add an African opera to the traditional European repertoire featured in this country. It is based on the life of Mangosuthu Buthelezi's mother, Princess Constance Magogo ka-Dinuzulu (1900-1984), who was widely recognised as a singer, composer, musician, teacher and political activist. It is a blend of Zulu traditional music featuring the composer's work as well as traditional operatic conventions. Historian Professor Themba Msimang wrote the libretto, while composer Mzilikazi Khumalo was the obvious choice for the score, as he had researched Zulu music for more than 50 years. 'Many of the songs I used in the opera I learnt at my mother's knee,' he says.

Director Themi Venturas teams up with artist Andrew Verster as set and costume designer, Declan Randall is the lighting designer, and they are joined by Dutch star conductor Vincent de Kort and the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra. Venturas says the concept and piece have come a long way. 'It has had two rewrites, new songs and music have been added with some new scenes introduced and others omitted,' he notes. Every time they've reworked the opera, they've developed it further. 'There have been several incarnations,' he adds, with one of its strongest features the fact that Sibongile Khumalo first created the role of the Princess. In this latest version, the lead role will be shared. 'Two impressive new singers will split the role,' he explains. 'Amsterdam loved it, Chicago loved it, Oslo loved it, Soweto loved it … Pretoria is in for a treat.'" [Full Post] [J. S. Mzilikazi Khumalo (b. 1932), South African Composer, Arranger & Choral Director, is profiled at

LandMammal.blogspot on 'Sonata Mullatica': 'Rita Dove's reading tonight was very good'

[Sonata Mulattica; Rita Dove; W.W. Norton Co. (2009)]

Anne Haines writes about hearing former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove read from Sonata Mullatica, the book of poems which tells the story of George Bridgetower, a Black violin virtuoso.  He is profiled at by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma, who writes that  the Beethoven work now known as the Kreutzer Sonata was originally dedicated to George Bridgetower:
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
“Rita Dove's reading tonight was very good. She read from her forthcoming book, Sonata Mullatica, which I am now seriously looking forward to -- it's good stuff, yes, but also it is sort of a biography-in-verse about this mixed-race violinist, George Bridgetower, who hung out with (Rebecca Loudon take note) Beethoven, until they had a falling-out and Beethoven took the sonata he'd written for Bridgetower and renamed it after someone else. 

“Narrative/lyric hybrid: check! Biographical story: check! Musicians having stupid interpersonal drama: check! I think I may learn a few things about how to deal with my own current project from this book.”
Full Post

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

International Trumpet Guild Journal: 'Wilmer Wise: A Remarkable Life of Diversity'

[African American Trumpeter Wilmer Wise; Photo from website of The Jazz Museum in Harlem]

On March 12, 2009 AfriClassical posted “Wilmer Wise Performs at Baltimore's Morgan State University Sunday, March 22, 2009”. We received a comment from John McLaughlin Williams (JMW), an African American conductor and violinist who has made 10 recordings and won a 2007 Grammy Award: “After seeing today's post on Wilmer Wise, I thought to ask you if you might get him to give you a detailed exposition of his life in music. Probably most of the younger crew have not heard of him. I certainly had not till I saw him on your site. (One more great thing you do with AfriClassical!) I'm sure many of us would love to hear about his studies and his life in the Baltimore SO. What do you think? Best, JMW”

Wilmer Wise kindly sent us some articles. He also wrote: “Here is part of The Making of West Side Story -” In four and a half minutes, we see and hear Leonard Bernstein conducting a rehearsal of a dance scene with characteristic emotion and verve, with Wilmer Wise performing on trumpet.
Another link leads to a transcript of a telephone interview on a website of Johns Hopkins University:

Sounds & Stories: The Musical Life of Maryland's African American Communities
Oral History: Transcript. Interview No. SAS4.00.02 Wilmer Wise (telephone interview) Interviewer: Glenn Quader. Location: Baltimore, Maryland. Date: April 2002.
“I’m speaking with Wilmer Wise. He’s now a resident of New York, and was an instrumental person here, no pun intended, in Baltimore. [What] I’d like to do is ask you first what was your first real involvement in here in Baltimore? Wise: I joined the Baltimore Symphony in 1965. I was the first black musician to occupy a chair in the Baltimore Symphony. I also at the same time became an adjunct professor at Morgan State College – University now. Q: And that was teaching the trumpet? Wise: Teaching the trumpet. Q: And how long were you with the Baltimore Symphony? Wise: From the years of 1965 to 1970, through the five seasons.”

International Trumpet Guild Journal
By Laurie Frink
October 2005 – Page 39
“Wilmer Wise, born and raised in Philadelphia, has had a magnificent career. From the beginning he was involved in all kinds of music, some of his fellow Philadelphians being Lee Morgan, Vince Penzarella, Ted Curson, Bobby Timmons, Tony Marchione (teacher of Randy Brecker), and Reggie Workman, to name a few. He has played with the Dick Clark Youth Band, The Intruders, the Club Harlem Band of Atlantic City, performed the Haydn Concerto (at age 23) with the Philadelphia Orchestra, played principal trumpet in the first Music from Marlboro tour of Europe, recorded with Pablo Casals, played lead trumpet in the only recording of West Side Story conducted by Leonard Bernstein, played five seasons with the Baltimore Symphony as assistant principal, served on the faculties of Morgan State and the Peabody Conservatory, performed with the New York Philharmonic, the American Symphony, and the Brooklyn Philharmonic, (35 years as principal) recorded most of the Philip Glass movie soundtracks, and played lead trumpet in more than 30 Broadway Shows, including five Stephen Sondheim hits.”

“Frink: Was the climate in the orchestra relaxed about you being there? Wise: No. A fellow came up to me and showed me a picture of an Aunt Jemima kind of woman with a bandana. I looked at him and in my best South-Philadelphian demeanor, and said 'You better get the f*** outta my face before I kick your a**' and he said, 'Oh, excuse me.' (laughing) He left me alone after that. It was about establishing territory. I went to the bar across the street from the Lyric Theatre and they told the musicians I was with 'tell the black guy we don't serve his kind here.' Frink: This is in 1965? Wise: Uh huh, so the guys that were drinkers boycotted the bar and the owner realized he was losing serious money so he welcomed me with open arms. He sent a personal invitation, 'Please come back.' This was Baltimore in the 1960s. Frink: So there were some people in the orchestra who were friendly and... Wise: And there were some who were not. If they could have burned a cross on stage, there are some that would have done it.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Schomburg Center: William Grant Still's 'Troubled Island' Mar. 31

[Canvas rendering of the Troubled Island mural created by Noni Olabisi on the William Grant Still Art Center in Los Angeles.  All rights reserved by the artist.]

William Grant Still's Troubled Island recounts the 1791 rebellion by Haitian slaves which ultimately led to creation of the first Black republic of the Western Hemisphere. This is the last in a series of three Black History presentations by Lincoln Center:
At The Schomburg Center For Research In Black Culture
March 31, 2009
In honor of Black History Month we celebrate the important African American works and artists who have graced City Opera's stage in three commemorative programs featuring discussion, live performance, special guests and historic audio and video clips.  SOLD OUT”
We celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the first world premiere in City Opera history: Troubled Island by William Grant Still and Langston Hughes. First performed on March 31st 1949, it was the first world premiere of any African-American composer's work presented by a major American Opera Company. Venue: Langston Hughes Auditorium at the Schomburg Center, 515 Malcolm X Boulevard, New York NY” [William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at, where a complete Works List by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma is also found]

Monday, March 23, 2009

Composer Chris Becker Seeks Score Or Recording Of 'Levee Land' By William Grant Still

[Afro-American Symphony; William Grant Still; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Karl Kruger, conductor; Bridge 9086 (1999)]

This post first appeared on the blog of Chris Becker, a New York composer, producer and recording artist whose website is
Chris Becker
Monday, March 23, 2009
Sunday, March 22, I was able to attend the American Symphony Orchestra's concert of William Grant Still's music. I'd been looking forward to this program for awhile. Performances of Still's music in the U.S. are rare. And the more I've researched Still's biography and music, it is clear that many of his works haven't been performed in the U.S. or at all. For instance, the ASO program mentions that Still wrote eight operas. That really took me by surprise - and I came to the ASO concert with some knowledge already of Still's music and his biography. You would think I would have already been aware of this fact, but nope. And something about the number just hit me. He wrote eight operas and how many of them have been performed here in New York?

“Who is William Grant Still? You can read about him at AfriClassical, Wikipedia, and here. I am particularly interested in hearing or seeing the score to an early work of Still's called Levee Land for soprano and orchestra which was premiered in New York in 1926 with Florence Mills. If anyone out there knows of a recording that's available for purchase, please give me a shout in the comments. I am not clear yet as to who owns the publishing of his music, and this may be an issue when it comes to buying his scores. But I've only just begun my research.” [Full Post] William Grant Still's 'Second Symphony is a lush, romantic piece'

[William Grant Still (1895-1978)] ]
Howard Kissell
The Cultural Tourist
March 22, 2009
This afternoon Leon Botstein led the American Symphony Orchestra in several pieces by William Grant Still (1895-1978), whose name is often followed by the phrase 'the Dean of African-American composers.' As is often the case words are a much easier way to honor a man than performing his music -- he appears in concert halls and on disc far less than he should. In his program notes Botstein mentions that one of Still's champions was Leopold Stokowski, who was in fact the founder of the American Symphony and who corresponded with Still about a piece that might be played at its debut in 1963.

In the concert at Avery Fisher Hall Botstein did a wonderful job of 'framing' Still, of putting him in context. The program began with a 'Rip van Winkle Overture' by George Whitefield Chadwick, a 19th century American composer, a pleasant enough composition. He followed it with Still's 'Darker America,' which made Chadwick really sound like 'white bread.' In some ways 'Darker America' was the most interesting piece on the program -- it had an arresting, somber quality, using the brass and winds to particularly mournful effect. Written in 1924, it seemed inescapably an attempt to convey the African-American experience, which it did -- powerfully."

The first half concluded with an evocative three-movement Still work called 'Africa.' It was composed in 1928, when American symphonic music, by white and black composers, was still searching for an American sound. Music from this period often has an impressionistic rather than a formal structure.” “Still followed his own muse. His Second Symphony, which closed the program, is a lush, romantic piece, which the ASO played beautifully.”

Roy Eaton Celebrates 60 Years of Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Award April 5 at Carnegie Hall

[Roy F. Eaton]

AfriClassical has received news from pianist Roy F. Eaton of an anniversary recital at Carnegie Hall: “Roy Eaton, winner of the first Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Award will perform on April 5th at 8PM at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in a special program commemorating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of this award in 1949. For Ticket information call 212 734 2130.”

Pianist Roy F. Eaton,, is well known for performing and recording the works of the African American ragtime and classical composer Scott Joplin, and for interpreting the piano works of other composers, including Frédéric Chopin and the African American composer William Grant Still. Scott Joplin (1868-1917) and William Grant Still (1895-1978) are profiled at

Marian Anderson Collection at U. of Penn. Holds Rare Songs of Florence Price

[Florence B. Price (1887-1953)]

Visitors to frequently ask for help obtaining sheet music of composers of African descent. Many requests involve the works of Florence B. Price. We routinely recommend contacting Suzane Flandreau, Head Librarian and Archivist at the Center for Black Music Research (CBMR), Columbia College Chicago. Her E-mail address is: The CBMER's website is:

Today we present Suzanne Flandreau's advice to a singer who was seeking the sheet music of two Florence Price songs, “Hold Fast to Dreams” and “Sympathy”: “[T]he songs you are looking for are unpublished. We do not have copies here, and there are not copies in Florence Price’s papers at the University of Arkansas. However, a check of OCLC’s WorldCat, an online library catalog that includes most major libraries, locates copies in the Marian Anderson collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Pennsylvania. The telephone number is (215) 898-7088 and the e-mail is I don’t know what their copying policies are. I hope this information is what you need. Suzanne Flandreau” [Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma, Professor of Music at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, has compiled a Works List of the compositions of Florence B. Price. It appears on the Florence Price page at]

Saturday, March 21, 2009

New York Times: 'Still (1895-1978) was a prolific composer'...'His works turn up too rarely'

[Symphony No. 2 (Song of a New Race), William Grant Still; Negro Folk Symphony, William Levi Dawson; Harlem, Duke Ellington; Detroit Symphony Orchestra; Neeme Järvi, Conductor; Chandos 9226 (1993)]
Allan Kozinn
Concertgoers have different opinions about LEON BOTSTEIN'S conducting technique. But one thing he does well is assemble programs of works from beyond the mainstream, often leaving listeners with the sense of having discovered something. He will lead his AMERICAN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA in a program on Sunday in a program whose core is music by William Grant Still. His blues-inspired “Afro-American Symphony” was the first symphony by a black composer to be performed by a major American orchestra (the Rochester Philharmonic, in 1931). Still (1895-1978) was a prolific composer whose catalog includes four more symphonies, eight operas and many tone poems, suites, chamber works and vocal pieces. His works turn up too rarely, and when one of his symphonies is played, it’s generally the “Afro-American.” Mr. Botstein has passed that one by in favor of Symphony No. 2 (“Song of a New Race”), as well as two of Still’s orchestral suites, “Darker America” (1924) and “Africa” (1928).

The program also includes works by some of Still’s older contemporaries: George Whitefield Chadwick, represented by his “Rip Van Winkle” Overture (1879), and the modernist Edgard Varèse, whose “Offrandes” (1922) will be heard. Lecture by Mr. Botstein at 1:45 p.m., concert at 3, Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, (212) 721-6500,; $28 to $57.  [William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at, where a complete Works List by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma is also found]

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sentinel-Tribune: 'Musical voice - Kostraba, radio host & pianist, performs BG recital'

[Africa: Piano Music of William Grant Still; Denver Oldham, piano; Koch 3 7084 2H1 (1991)]

Bowling Green, Ohio
Written by By DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Arts & Entertainment Editor 
Thursday, 19 March 2009
“For many years Greg Kostraba was the voice of classical music on WGTE-FM. As classical music programming director and senior radio host at the PBS affiliate in Toledo, he introduced the music in clear, dulcet tones, adding bits of commentary along the way. Sometimes, though, he lets his fingers do the talking. A classical performer, who was a semifinalist in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs in 2004, he has performed solo and chamber recitals as well as with orchestras around the region. Kostraba, who now is program director for WBAA in West Lafayette, Ind., said his dual careers as radio personality and performer are 'symbiotic.' He realized shortly after getting his doctorate in piano performance from the University of Cincinnati, that the two would work well together. People who heard him on the radio may want to see him perform and those who saw him perform would be more interested in tuning in to his radio programs.

“That’s proved to be the case, Kostraba said in a recent telephone interview. Kostraba will present a lecture-recital Sunday at 2 p.m. in the atrium of the Wood County Library. His program will showcase works by African-American composers. Violinist Rico McNeela, from the University of Toledo, will join him for some pieces. The program includes pieces by William Grant Still, considered the dean of African-American composers and the composer the pianist has an abiding interest in that dates back to his studies in Cincinnati. Still was a trailblazer in bringing African-American sounds into the classical realm. His first symphony the 'Afro-American Symphony' was the first work by an African-American composer to be played by a major American orchestra. Howard Hanson conducted its debut with the Rochester (New York) Symphony in 1931. Still was also the first African-American to conduct a major symphony.

“But breaking down racial barriers is only part of Still’s story. 'His music to me is as good as any American composer,' Kostraba said. His music is imbued 'with a great sense of lyricism,' the pianist said. And the composer loved the sound of trains and he incorporates “motor rhythms” in his pieces. 'There’s always a sense of forward motion in his pieces.' His music is evocative, often trying to project a visual image through the music. 'Summerland,' one of the 'Three Visions' Kostraba will play Sunday, is 'a musical depiction of heaven,' and one of the most beautiful pieces in the literature, Kostraba said. The blues element is also deeply felt throughout his work. 'What’s nice about it ... is it’s authentic. It’s rooted in his life in Harlem, his experience with Eubie Blake, his experience with W.C. Handy.' Kostraba will conclude the program with a blues that Still wrote for his 1936 ballet 'Lenox Avenue.' The program will begin with works by two of Still’s predecessors, the Afro-Anglo composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and R. Nathaniel Dett, who like Still studied at Oberlin College. Listeners, Kostraba said, may be struck by the similarities between the tonalities in Dett’s work and those of French impressionist composer Claude Debussy. [Full Post] [William Grant Still (1895-1978), Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) and R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943) are profiled at, where a complete Works List by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma is also found] 'Students and professional musicians celebrate Harlem Renaissance composer'

Afro-American Symphony; William Grant Still; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Karl Kruger, conductor; Bridge 9086 (1999)
by Bradley Bambarger/For The Star-Ledger 
Thursday March 19, 2009, 2:21 PM
American Symphony Orchestra. When and where: 3 p.m. Sunday, Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, 65th Street and Broadway, New York; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Conlin Auditorium, St. Benedict's Preparatory School Auditorium, 520 Martin Luther King Blvd., Newark. How much: $28-$57 in New York; visit or call (212) 721-6500.   Free in Newark; visit or call (973) 792-5800.

A 'crescendo of effort' is how teachers at St. Benedict's Preparatory School describe this week's culmination of the Newark institution's yearlong exploration of the Harlem Renaissance. The New York-based American Symphony Orchestra has been working closely with St. Benedict's teachers and students in a humanities program that links music, literature, visual arts and journalism. Some 100 students will attend the ASO's Lincoln Center performance this Sunday for free, with the concert revolving around African-American composer William Grant Still. On Thursday, ASO players will perform alongside student musicians in a concert at the school.”

“Clifford Brooks, the ASO's New Jersey-based education adviser for Music Notes, says 'the orchestra's musicians love really sharing their knowledge and passion with teachers and students, rather than just coming in to perform and leave.' Sunday's Lincoln Center concert, conducted by ASO music director Leon Botstein (also president of Bard College), will include the tone poems 'Darker America' and 'Africa' by the [Mississippi-born] Still (1895-1978). Also featured will be Still's 'Symphony No. 2' debuted by Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1937). Works by Still's teachers George Chadwick and Edgard Varese share the bill. The St. Benedict's program will include choral works by Still set to poems by fellow Harlem Renaissance artist Langston Hughes.” [Full Post] [William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at, where a complete Works List by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma is also found]

Black in Alberta: 'Black Mozart – Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges'

[Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges Violin Concertos, Op. 5, Nos. 1 & 2; Op. 3, No. 1; Op. 8, No. 9; Bernard Thomas Chamber Orchestra; Jean-Jacques Kantorow, Violin; Arion 68093 (1990)] 

Black in Alberta
Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Joseph Bologne, Le Chevalier (Le Chevalier means knight) de Saint Georges was born on Christmas Day, 1745 in Guadeloupe to a slave and a French colonialist. His father took Le Chevalier de Saint Georges and the boy's mother to France at a young age and invested in his education and musical training, with aspirations of having his son enter into the aristocracy. Le Chevalier de Saint Georges became the best fencer in France and had an affinity for music from early on. He ascended to be the first black man to conduct France's finest orchestras and his musical compositions inspired well known composers like Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven.

He was the general of a legion of 1000 black soldiers that fought heroically during the French revolution. He was a famed lover, though never fully accepted because of his black blood. Here is a clip of a pianist performing one of Le Chevalier de Saint George's works. From “Richard Alston, pianist performs 'Adagio in f minor' by Chevalier de Saint Georges composer of African descent. Please visit my web site http://www.richardcalston.comThe post also links to the Saint-Georges page at, saying: “A good website to read more about him.”

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Harry Rolnick: 'This was my first hearing of George Walker’s Lilacs, and I frankly loved it'

[Photo Courtesy of George Walker]

We present a brief excerpt from Harry Rolnick's review of the March 17, 2009 concert of the Philadelphia Orchestra in Carnegie Hall:
Darius Milhaud: La Création du Monde, opus 81a
Gustav Mahler: Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen
Antonín Dvorák: Symphony No. 9, “From the New World”, opus 95
Russell Thomas (Tenor), Eric Owens (Bass-Baritone)
The Philadelphia Orchestra, Charles Dutoit (Chief Conductor and Artistic Adviser), Jessye Norman (Presenter)

George Walker was the first Black composer to win the Pulitzer Prize for his Lilacs, while Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer was a favorite of Marian Anderson, who was celebrated by Ms. Norman in her speech. Finally, Dvorák’s symphony, while has more ersatz American Indian themes than Black, celebrated a composer whose friendship with Black pianist Harry Burleigh is worthy of a book in itself. This was my first hearing of George Walker’s Lilacs, and I frankly loved it. Walt Whitman has been set countless times, but Mr. Walker had a special take. For the poem When Lilacs Last In The Door-Yard Bloom’d is desolation, and Mr. Walker sensed that from the beginning. Over all four songs was one chord which was neither major nor minor, but this ambiguity gave the sense of unease over the entire work, ending only with a kind of mournful percussive effect.” 
“Tenor Russell Thomas did the honors, literally. So lovely is his voice that one almost wishes he was reciting the poems. But singing them, with the sudden leaps to near falsetto range, he retained all the emotional impact.” [George Walker (b. 1922) and Henry "Harry" Thacker Burleigh (1866-1949) are profiled at  Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma has contributed Works Lists for both composers]