Wednesday, July 8, 2009 'African-Americans have proved their mettle as masters of this art form'

Cue Online (Grahamstown)

Africa: African-American Ensemble Explodes
Jeff Brukman
8 July 2009
"The consummate artistry of Marcus Eley (clarinet) and Lucerne DeSa (piano) makes the African-American Celebration an event to be included in your festival diary. But, you will be disappointed if you are expecting a distinct, unique African-American composition idiom to appear. The works of the African-American composers on offer all fall within the ambit of the traditional western canon. This programme could have been composed by any competent western art music composer, situated anywhere in the world. In this sense the programme shows that African-Americans have proved their mettle as masters of this art form.

"That they deserve recognition and exposure as exponents of their craft – an unqualified yes, but it would be a fallacy to believe that their music stands out as an unusual contribution when measured against the international norm. Apart from arrangements of Deep River and Amazing Grace there was little else which bore a direct link to the African-American experience. This is possibly a creative gap in the American musical canon which needs exploration and codification.

"Homage to western art
Yet, what was on offer was a meaningful contribution to the tradition of western art music. Eley’s poignant homage to William Grant Still through a romantically crafted Romance brought a rapturous response from the sizable audience. This work suited Eley’s warm, radiant tone and highlighted his phenomenal breath control, wide dynamic range and evenly produced sound across the instrument’s entire spectrum. The festival is indeed fortunate to host such a master of the clarinet. DeSa’s pianism is out of the top drawer with her vast array of touches, huge dynamic vocabulary, exceptional control over nuances and phenomenal digital accuracy making her the ideal partner for this programme." [Full Post] [William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at, where a complete Works List by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma is also found.]

No comments: