Monday, November 30, 2009

Entertainment Daily: Hale 'Smith is survived by his wife of 61 years, Juanita'

[Hale Smith; Photo Credit Marilyn Harris (mid-1970s) ]

“Famed Composer Smith Dies
November 30th, 2009
Classical and jazz music composer HALE SMITH has died due to complications of a stroke. He was 84. Smith, who performed with jazz greats including drummer Chico Hamilton and late bandleader Dizzy Gillespie, died on Tuesday (24 Nov 09) at his home in Freeport, Long Island.

“Smith was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943, where he arranged the music for shows touring Army camps. Upon leaving the service in 1945, he enrolled in the Cleveland Institute of Music and later became known playing jazz piano in nightclubs in the Ohio city.

“Smith also composed jingles and music for U.S. radio, television and theater, and influential works including Contours for Orchestra in 1961, and Ritual and Incantations in 1974.” “Smith is survived by his wife of 61 years, Juanita, a daughter, Robin, three sons, Michael, Eric and Marcel, and three grandchildren.” [A biography of Hale Smith is featured at It includes a comprehensive Works List by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma of Lawrence University Conservatory in Appleton, Wisconsin]

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Do The Math: 'Feathers' by Late Composer Hale Smith 'glows with alien splendor.'

[“Music of Hale Smith”; CRI 860 (2000)]

Do The Math
Hale Smith (1925-2009)
“The NY Times obit doesn't mention Hale Smith's most significant work for jazz musicians, 'Feathers,' recorded in 1960 on Eric Dolphy's Out There with Ron Carter, cello, George Duvivier, bass, and Roy Haynes, drums.” “'Feathers' seems to me to be one of the finest 'Third Stream' works of the era.” “It's a shame that Smith didn't write more music like this (that has been recorded, anyway). The CRI anthology, while excellent, is conventional in comparison. Nothing else has ever sounded like 'Feathers,' which glows with alien splendor.”

The Works List at, by Professor Dominique-René de Lerma, has this entry:
"Feathers, for jazz quartet. LP: Eric Dolphy, alto saxophone; Ron Carter, cello; George Duvivier, double bass; Roy Haynes, drums New Jazz NJLP-8252 & Prestige PR-7652 & Prestige 24008 & Prestige tapes M82408DP & M52408DR & Esquire 32-153 & Xtra 5054 (1960)."

Kevin Scott & SUNY Orange Symphonic Band: 'BIG BA(N)D CHRISTMAS' Dec. 12, 8 p.m.

[Quincy Hilliard, Composer, In Praise of Autumn]

The Arts and Communication Department Present
SUNY Orange Symphonic Band
Kevin Scott, Director

A bodacious selection of unusual offerings for concert and swing band

Jesse Ayers: Fanfare for Christmas Morning
Quincy Hilliard: In Praise of Autumn
Morten Lauridsen: O Magnum Mysterium (arr. Reynolds)
Adam Gorb: Yiddish Dances
Ralph Carmichael: Seasonal selections for The Stan Kenton Orchestra

Program subject to change
Saturday, 12 December 2009, 8:00 p.m.
Paramount Theatre, 17 South Street, Middletown, New York
Admission $5.00
For further information, please call (845) 341-4787 or 341-4393

'Soweto Strings' DVD Features the BUSKAID Soweto String Ensemble

[Soweto Strings, DVD of a film by Mark Ridel, featuring the BUSKAID Soweto String Ensemble]

David Burnett,, publishes the “The Collective - Newsletter for & about African American and Latino Musicians.” The current issue includes this news:

“I am happy to let everyone know that the Soweto Strings documentary DVD about the string program in South Africa is now available! The documentary has been completed and is now available for purchase via their website

"As I finished teaching at Harlem School of the Arts one evening, a few years ago, I noticed a group of Black students with string instruments walking in Harlem. So I went up to them and asked them what kind of music they perform and when they were performing. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that they were classical musicians and were in Harlem on tour from South Africa and were about to play a concert at a Church in Harlem. So I bought a ticket and attended the concert. What I saw was absolutely amazing! The students were fantastic! I've kept in contact with them over the past few years and got an Email from them two weeks ago, letting me know that a documentary DVD on them was completed. I put in an order and received a copy. This DVD is a must for anyone that wants to see a truly inspiring story.”

Daily Camera: 'Boulder Phil concertmaster Gregory Walker premieres father's concerto in Philadelphia'

[Electric Vivaldi, The Four Seasons; Antonio Vivaldi, composer; Gregory Walker, electronic violin; Marcelo Sanches, cello; Lori Walker, synthesizer; Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra; Eric Bertoluzzi, conductor; Newport Classic 85569 (2006)]

By Wes Blomster Camera Classical Music Critic
Posted: 11/29/2009 10:03:57 AM MST
Gregory Walker calls it 'a Cinderella story.' On December 10, Walker, concertmaster of the Boulder Philharmonic since 1987, will be soloist in the world premiere of George Walker's Concerto for Violin with the Philadelphia Orchestra. George Walker, 87 and retired from Rutgers University, is Gregory's father. He wrote the concerto for Gregory and dedicated the score to him. 'I thought it was a little late in life to realize a childhood dream and appear as soloist with a major orchestra,' says Gregory, who earned a doctorate in composition at the University of Colorado and is now a member of the music faculty on CU's Denver campus.”

“When we talked about the Philadelphia premiere Gregory had just returned from Warsaw, where he recorded the new work with the Sinfonia Varsovia conducted by England's Ian Hobson. 'The concerto is a labor of love,' Gregory says. 'Dad wrote it without a commission. It was something he had to get off his chest, and of course he hoped a major orchestra would be interested in it.' Although Gregory did not see the concerto until it was finished, it's clear to him that his father wrote it with him in mind.

“(In 1997 Gregory performed -- and recorded -- his father's 'Poème for Violin and Orchestra' with the Cleveland Chamber Symphony.) 'It's a challenging work,' Gregory says of the 25-minute concerto. 'When I got the score I looked it over to see whether there were passages that no one could be expected to perform.' And his father did offer that he could take a slower tempo in some cases. 'The music is unusually intense -- sometimes unrelentingly so,' Gregory says. 'And its emotional level is high. It's dissonant, but lyric passages emerge with an energy and beauty that validates the entire composition.'" [George Walker is profiled at]

Comment by email
Thanks for digging up that Boulder Daily Camera. I have a sneaking suspicion that in the coming week, there will be more where that came from! Gregory Walker

Yelé Haiti, Wyclef Jean, OAS & École de Musique Sainte Trinité Launch 'Youth Orchestra of Haiti'

[TOP: Ann Victor, a 21-year-old cellist who was among those taking the training to be instructors in the new Youth Orchestra of Haiti, is shown here with a young pupil. Ann also performed in the concert. Photo credit: Yéle Haiti/Sebastian Petion. BOTTOM: Youth Orchestra of Haiti (Photo from]

Classical Music has been part of the culture of Haiti throughout the existence of the Republic. presents the lives and music of four Haitian Classical Composers: Justin Elie, Occide Jeanty, Ludovic Lamothe and Julio Racine (b. 1945). The "École de Musique Sainte Trinité", or "Holy Trinity Music School" is an Episcopal School in Port-au-Prince. The Organization of American States (OAS) is made up of 35 member nations in the Western Hemisphere. Its website explains the initiative which resulted in the first concert of the “Youth Orchestra of Haiti” in Port-au-Prince on November 1, 2009:
Music for social change: underprivileged children interpret the great classics
Children and youth from underprivileged neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, interpreted some of the great compositions of Classical music and Haitian folk music arrangements alongside professional musicians Sunday in the third and final concert of a new regional initiative led by the Organization of American States and Haiti to prevent youth violence and reduce school drop out rates in the Caribbean.”

“Haitian musicians were accompanied by members of the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Haiti, the 'Petits Chanteurs of St. Trinité' and a multinational group of guest musicians from Argentina, Colombia and Brazil. 'Unlike more traditional ways of teaching children music, in this program we take children and youth with zero knowledge of musical instruments and expose them to an intensive training program, engaging them emotionally and motivating them with the possibility of performing live concerts,' said Andrés Navia, Senior Program Specialist with the OAS's Department of Cultural Affairs.

Yelé Haiti, a grassroots movement founded by the Grammy Award-winning musician Wyclef Jean, partnered with the OAS and the École de Musique Sainte Trinité to create the Youth Orchestra of Haiti, provided some funding and will be a channel by which people can make earmark contributions to the Orchestra. 'We are delighted to be partnering with the École de Musique Sainte Trinité and the OAS to create the Youth Orchestra of Haiti,' said Hugh Locke, President of Yelé Haiti. 'Our interest is in seeing how music can be used in support of development, and we do this already through many of our programs. This is one more means by which we can contribute to this tradition.' Locke also said Classical music can be a strong foundation to any aspiring musician. 'Our founder Wyclef Jean, his training is as a classical musician and he has always recommended it to young musicians regardless of the genre they intend to pursue,' he said.”

“The first and second concerts of this series were performed on October 11 in Castries, Saint Lucia, and on October 23 in Kingston, Jamaica. The Port-au-Prince concert was performed in the Salle St. Cecile of the École de Musique Sainte Trinité and featured the work of composers Vivaldi, Villalobos, Holst, as well as Haitian Folk arrangements.”

Memorial Concert for Hale Smith Planned for Spring, in Lieu of Service on Passing

In an email to AfriClassical, John Malveaux quotes Darryl Taylor of the African American Art Song Alliance,, on plans to commemorate the passing of composer Hale Smith:

“Subject: Hale Smith
Juanita Smith informs me there will be no service for Hale. A memorial concert will be planned for the spring.”
[Hale Smith is profiled at, where a complete Works List by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma can be found]

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Charles Darden: 'an authority on the life and music of the ragtime composer Scott Joplin'

[Photo of Charles Darden at]

Charles Darden posted a comment today on “Darryl Taylor Offers Condolences On Passing of Composer Hale Smith”: “I will always remember Hale Smith's encouraging words and advice to me as a young black conductor. He also urged to write and perform 'Great Scott!' the story of the life of Scott Joplin, which I continue to perform. Thank you Hale. Charles Darden”
Charles Darden Bio
March 7, 2008
Charles Darden is Director of Music of the Anglican Church, and Director of La Chorale De Bons Choeurs, on the island of St. Barts in the Caribbean French West Indies. He is a graduate of The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. He grew up in California and was the founder and conductor of the Berkeley Free Orchestra. In 1970, Seiji Ozawa appointed him Apprentice Conductor to the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. Later, he was twice a Conducting Fellow at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra where he studied with Leonard Bernstein. In 1975, Lorin Maazel appointed him Conducting Assistant to the Cleveland Orchestra. He was later appointed Musical Director of the Ballet Rambert in London and later Principal Conductor of the Dance Theater of Harlem in New York. He was a frequent guest conductor in Europe, primarily in Norway, where he was a regular conductor with the Den Norske Opera. He is an accomplished pianist and has appeared as Jasbo Brown in the Metropolitan Opera's production of Porgy and Bess. Mr. Darden is an authority on the life and music of the ragtime composer Scott Joplin. He wrote the one-man show Great Scott! outlining the life of the ragtime composer Scott Joplin. [Full Post]

Nicht Diese Töne: 'An Argument for Scott Joplin as a Great Composer'

[Scott Joplin Piano Rags; Joshua Rifkin, piano; Nonesuch 79159 (1990)]
Friday, November 27, 2009
“Someday I'll writeup what I'm sure will be a contentious piece about what makes Great Music, and whether there is such a thing at all. For now, I want share some brief thoughts about Scott Joplin, who was at once an extremely popular composer in his time (around the turn of the century... 19th to 20th) and remains revered as the 'King of Ragtime' even today.”

“Joplin even wrote two operas - one of which is lost, the other of which was not performed during his lifetime - but like many great minds, he was ahead of his time. Joplin's operas were about race at a time when that was dangerous. Joplin, indeed, was black at a time when it was almost impossible to be famous and black (for a good reason, anyway). And yet he was. His Maple Leaf Rag was the highest selling piece of sheet music of all time during his life, and the first to sell more than 1,000,000 copies.” [Scott Joplin is a Ragtime and Classical Composer who is profiled at]

New York Times: 'Hale Smith, Who Broke Borders of Classical and Jazz, Is Dead at 84'

[“Hale Smith in about 1990” (Photo by Joseph Szabo, The New York Times)]
By William Grimes
Published: November 27, 2009
Hale Smith, a classical composer who also worked as a performer and arranger with jazz greats like Dizzy Gillespie and Chico Hamilton, died Tuesday at his home in Freeport, L.I. He was 84. The cause was complications of a stroke, said his wife, Juanita.

“Mr. Smith, who wryly described himself to The New York Times in 1990 as 'one of America’s most famous unknown composers,' straddled the two worlds of jazz and classical music as a performer, composer, arranger and teacher. From his early teens, he played jazz piano in the nightclubs of Cleveland, his hometown, but he went on to study classical composition and achieve a national reputation for an eclectic oeuvre and his synthesis of jazz and 12-tone technique.”

“In 1948 he married Juanita Hancock. In addition to his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Robin, of Manhattan; three sons, Michael, of Freeport; Eric, of York, Pa.; and Marcel, of Harpursville, N.Y.; and three grandchildren.”

“Although Mr. Smith, an adviser for the Center for Black Music Research in Chicago, was routinely listed among the leading black composers of his day, he bristled at the designation. He wanted his work, and that of his black peers, to appear on programs with that of Beethoven, Mozart and Copland. 'We don’t even have to be called black,' he wrote in an article in 1971. 'When we stand for our bows, that fact will become clear when it should — after the music has made its own impact.'” [Hale Smith is profiled at, where a complete Works List by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma can be found]

Friday, November 27, 2009

Darryl Taylor Offers Condolences on Passing of Composer Hale Smith

[“Music of Hale Smith”; CRI 860 (2000)]

John Malveaux informs AfriClassical: “Darryl Taylor sent a message to the members of African American Art Song Alliance":
"Subject: Hale Smith, June 25, 1925 - November 24, 2009
It is with a heavy heart that I must announce the passing of the brilliant composer/arranger, Hale Smith. Hale passed away on November 24th. I will forward service information when it becomes available. In the meanwhile, I'm sure I am joined by a host of you who knew and loved the man and his music. Our heartfelt condolences go to his wife and steadfast companion, Juanita."

Corrections Regarding Composer George Walker

[Black Composers Series; Detroit Symphony Orchestra; Dr. Paul Freeman, conductor; Natalie Hinderas, piano; Sanford Allen, violin; Hale Smith: Ritual and Incantations; George Walker: Piano Concerto; Adolphus Hailstork: Celebration!; Roque Cordero: Violin Concerto, Eight Miniatures; Sony DSO-1111 (2002). Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma worked closely with Dr. Paul Freeman on the CBS Black Composers Series on LP in the 1970s; parts of those recordings have been made available on this CD.]

On Nov. 7, 2009 AfriClassical posted: “Dominique-René de Lerma: Scholar of Black Classical Music for 40 Years.” Composer George Walker has brought some corrections to our attention:
“Hello Bill, The interview with Dominique was interesting. Some details about me are faulty. (This often happens in interviews.)”

George Walker tells us he began teaching at Peabody, in Baltimore, in 1975. He clarifies that his Lyric for Strings was not the first work of his which was known to Dr. Paul Freeman, and was “...called Lament for only the first performance on the radio...” Also, the work “...was composed more than 20 years before Paul Freeman performed it.” Maestro Freeman had previously conducted performances of Address for Orchestra and Variations for Orchestra, George notes, and had conducted a recording of the composer's Trombone Concerto. Finally, George Walker's place of residence in New Jersey has always been Montclair.

Comment by email
Thanks very much, Bill. George

Thursday, November 26, 2009

MusicWeb-International Lauds William Grant Still's 'Symphonies 4 & 5', and 'Poem for Orchestra'

[“William Grant STILL (1895 – 1978); Symphony No. 5 Western Hemisphere (1945, rev. 1970) [19:37]; Poem for Orchestra (1944) [10:27]; Symphony No. 4 Autochthonous (1947) [26:15]; Fort Smith Symphony/John Jeter”; World Première Recordings; NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559603 [56:24]]

Rob Barnett of gives very positive critiques of the three works of William Grant Still, all world premieres, which are performed by the Fort Smith Symphony of Arkansas under John Jeter, conductor, on Naxos American Classics 8.559603 (56:24):

“William Grant Still was nothing if not a practical musician. Long before he aspired to symphonies he had seen service as an editor for W.C. Handy (composer of St Louis Blues) and Artie Shaw (whose Frenesi he orchestrated), an arranger for jazz groups and a pit orchestra musician able to turn his hand to any immediate task. His folk-inflected Symphony No. 1 ‘Afro-American’ dates from his time (1930s) in Los Angeles arranging for Paul Whiteman and moving into film and radio music.

“His Fourth Symphony with its loquacious and seemingly easy way with popular culture influences including spirituals, blues, jazz, shows and Western film manners is superbly fluent - the mix unassailably resolved with no awkwardness or seams. It’s music of 1940s smiling confidence – chromium yet yielding and flowing with a guileless Dvorakian pleasure from the pioneer’s limitless horizons to Ravelian introspection. This is very pleasing music with ideas couched in touching terms – as in the epic, deeply touching and wondering-wandering ‘chorale’ theme in the finale of the Fourth. The Fourth was given its first performance under Victor Alessandro and the Oklahoma City Symphony Orchestra on 18 March 1951.

“The four movement Fifth Symphony has a convoluted history but its premiere was given by the Oberlin College Orchestra under Robert Baustian on 9 November 1970. It’s a compact work with the movements dovetailing most naturally. Those with a predilection for folk romantic writing will find this work irresistible. Moments here and there are reminiscent of Hanson, Harris and Gershwin but nothing to suggest a tired imaginative resource – quite the contrary. It has the lovely flowing innocence of the Fourth yet is not without creative tension.

“The Poem for Orchestra was a commission from the Kulas American Composers’ Fund for the Cleveland Orchestra. Erich Leinsdorf was behind the idea. It was premiered by the Cleveland Symphony conducted by Rudolph Ringwall on 7 and 9 December 1944. A wartime work, it has an almost Baxian tense quality heard especially in the flurrying woodwind. This is moderated by one of Still’s slippery and superbly rounded motifs. Finally there’s a gleaming Delian deliquescence (6:40) with just a suggestion of a sentimental tear. The Poem is well worth programming first to catch something of the essence of the orchestral Still.”

Comments by email
Truly lovely review! Thanks. Celeste Headlee
Bill - thanks for sending this. Regards, John Jeter

Dr. Lisa Walker of U.S. Conducts Jamaica Symphony Orchestra, Which Has Steel Pans

[The Jamaica Symphony Orchestra in concert at the Assembly Hall, University of the West Indies, Mona, on Sunday. - Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer (Photo from The Gleaner)]

Here are excerpts from an email from David Robinson, who is in Jamaica:
“I am having a great time in Jamaica serving as artist-in-residence with the Jamaica Symphony Orchestra.” “It was founded by Chicagoan, Lisa Darby Walker. I met her at NANM in 1991 when she was a college student in grad school.” “She has been teaching in Jamaica for about nine years.” “Please check out their website at” “As artist-in-residence, I am playing cello plus giving cello workshops. There is not a professional cellist on the island. I will also be instructing the children that are involved with some of the arrangements I have done. I will be here until Dec. 2nd. The two concerts we have done were packed. They were introductions to orchestra music to Jamaican people as a narrator explains each piece, each composer, and so on."

The Gleaner
"Caribbean classic - Jamaica's unique symphony orchestra showcases talent"
Published: Wednesday November 25, 2009
Michael Reckord, Gleaner Writer
“Jamaica's renown as a wonderfully musical nation has come not only because of our prowess in reggae and jazz. We have produced, too, world-class opera singers and classical music instrumentalists.”

"Now, add to the above a symphony orchestra which surely is one of the world's largest and definitely the only major one with a steel-band section. Formed in September 2008, the Jamaica Symphony Orchestra (JSO) has more than 100 members and, together with the traditional four sections of a symphony orchestra - the strings, woodwind, brass and percussion - it has a full steel pan unit, which gives it a sound that is both unique and authentically Caribbean. (The steel pan, originating in Trinidad and Tobago, is reputedly the only new musical instrument invented in the 20th century).”

“Impressive sight
The second half was devoted to performances by the JSO. The large stage, filled with 100-plus classical musicians and their instruments, was an impressive sight, one a Reggae Sumfest Dancehall Night could never duplicate. Pieces by Rossini, Bach, Dvorak and Tchaikovsky were played by the JSO, and nine-year-old violinist Christian Allicock was featured as a soloist in Vivaldi's Concerto in A minor, Mvt. 1, Op 3. Additionally, Jamaican composer David Aarons conducted the orchestra in his own work, Little Dancehall Fugue. The concert ended with the JSO playing an echo-filled version of the Hallejujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah.”

Comments by email
The correct web address for Jamaica Symphony Orchestra is Thanks. David Robinson
V Interesting! Thanks. I had heard that they had formed and would very much like to know more. Regards, Mike S. Wright

Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson's 'Statements: Sonata No. 2 for piano' on John Cheek's CD, JRI 115

[ABOVE: Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson Conducting the New Black Music Repertory EnsemblePhoto courtesy of the Center for Black Music Research, Columbia College, Chicago BELOW: “Circa 1980: Works for Solo Piano by Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson and Donald Martino”; JRI 115 (2007)]

The following paragraph on the music of Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (1932-2004) is excerpted from this Nov. 25, 2009 post:
“This composer deserves way more attention than he got in his lifetime: Coleridge-Taylor "Perk" Perkinson: Three Miniatures for flute and piano. The 1st piece to which I was exposed was Perk's flute sonata; however, there's no recording available as far as i can tell. Perkinson artfully merges his African-American heritage with Impressionism, neo-classicism, and various 20th century styles. If posterity is fair, you'll be hearing more Perkinson as the years pass. In addition, I have to give a shout out to pianist John Cheek, who introduced me to Perkinson's music. He has a great recording of Perkinson and Martino that includes Perk's Statements: Sonata No. 2 for piano.” [Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson is profiled at, where a Works List and Bibliography by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma are found]

Comment by email
Thanks for circulating the news here. I will order this right away. I warmly remember the late Coleridge-Tayor Perkinson discussing with me some issues with Karen Walwyn’s performance of this work on the CD Dark Fires. I was rather impressed by the strength of this sonata and its neo classical leanings. There is another recording by Anthony Padilla which I quite like. I think this sonata (and possibly his first) have the potential of going ‘mainstream’ they are good! Mike S. Wright

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Indiana U. African American Choral Ensemble Sings R. Nathaniel Dett's 'Listen to the Lambs' Dec. 5

'Above and Beyond' the theme for A Potpourri of the Arts in the African American Tradition
Indiana University
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
“The African American Choral Ensemble's director Keith McCutchen has chosen to pay the first of several tributes to R. Nathaniel Dett, a composer, pianist and choral conductor who dedicated his entire life to presenting the music of African Americans to all people and nations. Dett is best known for his choral anthem 'Listen to the Lambs' and his piano piece, 'Juba Dance.'"

Keith McCutchen was kind enough to discuss the program with us by phone. He explained that the Dett work on the Dec. 5, 2009 program will be 'Listen to the Lambs.' In 2010, the ensemble will perform 'The Ordering of Moses.' [A biography of R. Nathaniel Dett can be found at, where a complete Works List by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma is featured]

Wilmer Wise Plays Ornette Coleman's 'The Sacred Mind of Johnny Dolphin' at FONT, Jan. 13-16

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

“Forward Flight
November 22nd, 2009 Author: rich
The Festival of New Trumpet Music (FONT Music) will present Forward Flight, the third and final event of its 7th annual performance season, from Wednesday, January 13th through Saturday, January 16th at New York’s Abrons Arts Center.”

“This four-day celebration of the eclecticism of the trumpet in contemporary music, curated by Dave Douglas and Taylor Ho Bynum, will feature events on two stages, including performances by a diverse range of ensembles, three free FONT Music Workshop Series events and an opening night tribute to unheralded veteran trumpet player, Wilmer Wise.” “Headlining events will include...a rare performance of Ornette Coleman’s 'The Sacred Mind of Johnny Dolphin' by Wilmer Wise...”

Tributes to Composer Hale Smith (1925-2009)

AfriClassical has received the following tributes to Hale Smith (1925-2009):

Regina Harris Baiocchi, Chicago, Illinois
Dear Family & Friends: My mentor, teacher, master composer and friend passed this evening. Please honor Hale by celebrating his music and remembering his family in your prayers. Mail may be addressed to Hale's wife: Mrs. Juanita Smith, 225 Pine Street, Freeport, NY 11520

Dominique-René de Lerma, Appleton, Wisconsin
Dear Regina, This news was initially a shock, but then I was overcome with sentiments of deep gratitude, joining my feelings with surely everyone who came in contact with Hale, so appreciative of the warmth of his spirit and the nurture he gave us and his art. This is a man we all loved – and love. When we first met, forty years ago this past summer, we talked way into the night, and I was struck by the enormous love he expressed for Juanita.

Regina Harris Baiocchi
As we big adieu to Master Composer Hale Smith I am reminded of all he gave to me and the world as mentor, teacher and friend. The greatest tribute we can pay is to program Hale Smith's music.

Mike S. Wright, United Kingdom
Suzanne [Flandreau], Thanks for letting me know. Back in the mid 90’s I had had some contact with Hale Smith before he was seriously ill. He was most influential to me in setting my objectives in promoting the music of African American composers. He was most anxious to ensure that I was not promoting music on the basis of ‘a special case’. I was also very much drawn to the qualities of his music. His passing is a sad loss to the musical world and to humanity in general. I will be communicating a message to Juanita via Regina.

Regina Harris Baiocchi
Dear Bill, Thanks for the Hale Smith posting. Please note that Hale is also survived by one daughter, Robin, and three sons: Michael, Marcel (Keiko); and Eric (Marcia); and Marcel's son, Bracey, who spent the last decade or so with Hale and Juanita. (Keiko and Marcia are daughter-in-laws.)

William J. Zick, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Dear Juanita, Please accept my sincere condolences on Hale's passing. He and I did not have personal contact, but through the website I gained great respect for his professional accomplishments. I felt I came to know him through fond references by Marilyn Harris and Dominique-René de Lerma. I have posted some tributes on AfriClassical.

Juanita Smith
Thank you so very much! Juanita

Gwendoline Y. Fortune, Gainesville, Florida
I knew his brother, Bruce, and am in contact with his sister-in-law Norma, a friend of many years. I have been apprised of Hale's condition for some time. I met Hale only once, but cherish the memory. I admire his talent. I told him of one of his compositions I had sung, 'Beyond the rim of day,' and he gave me the names of others he had composed that he said I would like. Composers are my absolutely favored (in awe) artists. Peace and love, Gwen

African American Composer, Pianist & Professor Hale Smith (1925-2009)

[“Music of Hale Smith”; CRI 860 (2000)]

Hale Smith, an African American composer, pianist and professor who was born June 29, 1925, passed away at 11:00 p.m., Tuesday, November 24, 2009, according to his former student and longtime friend Regina Harris Baiocchi, in Freeport, New York. Hale Smith is survived by his wife Juanita Smith.

Suzanne Flandreau of the Center for Black Music Research adds of Hale Smith: “He had been at home in hospice care for the past few months.” [Hale Smith is profiled at, where a complete Works List by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma can be found]

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Call For Papers, Due Dec. 1: 'Claiming Creativity', Columbia College Chicago, April 21-24, 2010

Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma of Lawrence University Conservatory, Appleton, Wisconsin, sends us this reminder:
“CLAIMING CREATIVITY: Art Education in Cultural Transition
A Joint International Symposium presented by Columbia College Chicago in partnership with the European League of Institutes of the Arts,

Chicago, USA, April 21-24, 2010
We would like to remind you that the
DEADLINE for submissions of papers and presentations is DECEMBER 1, 2009.”

Claiming Creativity seeks to re-position creativity as a driver not only for our economies, but also for art making, for transformational processes, and for social and cultural development and change. The working assumption is that the vitality of our common future is linked tightly to creative practice in many forms. This symposium will place artists, designers, architects and other active 'creators' and those who teach in the creative disciplines squarely at the center of these important conversations along with leaders in industry and commerce who share an interest in the life of the imagination and its value to society.” Profiles Julio Racine (b. 1945), Haitian Composer, Arranger & Flutist

[Belle Ayiti: Mizik Savant Ayisyen (Beautiful Haiti: Haitian Classical Music); Tangente au
Yanvalou; Sonate Vodou Jazz
; Haitian Folk Songs; Zanmi Ansanm Mizik Ayisyen (Friends Together For Haitian Music). Cover Art: Painting by Haitian artist Ernst Toussaint. (75:29)] is pleased to announce a new web page on Julio Racine,
a Haitian composer, arranger and flutist who was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on February 4, 1945. He joins three other Haitian classical composers at the website: Justin Elie, Occide Jeanty and Ludovic Lamothe.

On Oct. 31, 2009 AfriClassical posted: “Z.A.M.A. CD 'Beautiful Haiti: Haitian Classical Music' by Jaegerhuber, Racine, Jean-Claude & Casseus” Three of the works are by Julio Racine: Tangente au Yanvalou, Sonate Vodou Jazz and Haitian Folk Songs. The CDs sells for $20.00, plus $5.00 shipping and handling. All of the proceeds are devoted to funding scholarships and bringing five Haitian musicians to the U.S. for a 4-month residency. To order the CD "Belle Ayiti" (75:29), send an email to: Mary Procopio,

Julio Racine's father was Cesar Racine, a judge in the border town of Belledere. Julio and his brother and sisters lived in Port-au-Prince while school was in session. His mother was Lea Delva Racine, a teacher and artist. Her teaching posts sometimes separated her from the family as well. Lea Racine died when Julio was 2 years old. His maternal grandmother and his uncles helped his father raise him, his brother and two sisters.
At 12, Julio began taking flute lessons from the Rev. Ulrick Delva, an uncle who was a Roman Catholic priest. Racine was 15 when he entered the Conservatoire National, where he studied flute with Despestre Salnave, and piano and harmony with Professor Solon Verret, also a Haitian composer.

In 1970, Julio Racine received a scholarship to study at the University of Louisville School of Music in Kentucky. There he studied flute with Prof. Francis Fuge and composition with Dr. Nelson Keyes. He graduated in 1974 and returned to Haiti. Julio was immediately given a faculty appointment as Professor of Flute and Conductor of the Holy Trinity Philharmonic Orchestra (Orchestre Philharmonique Sainte Trinité).

He has given numerous flute and chamber music recitals in Haiti. In 1984 he conducted the Holy Trinity Orchestra on a tour of several U.S. Cities. From 1975-86 Julio Racine was the principal organizer of the Summer Music Camp for young musicians in Haiti, the “Ecole de Musique Saint-Trinité.” He retired in 2001, and relocated to the U.S. Racine's works are essentially Haitian-inspired, and have been performed and well-received in Haiti. Julio has also devoted considerable time to arranging Haitian folk songs for publication and performance.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Walden Chamber Players Will Premiere 'Almost a Boogie' of Alvin Singleton, March 7, 2010

[Sing to the Sun: Chamber Music by Alvin Singleton, Troy 902 (2007)]

Alvin Singleton informs us of a premiere performance of
Almost A Boogie by the Walden Chamber Players: ( )

The performance will take place on March 7, 2010 @ 4 pm at St. Paul’s Church, 15 St. Paul Street, Brookline, Massachusetts.

Schubert | Adagio and Rondo Concertante for piano and strings
Singleton | New commission for horn, bassoon, violin, viola, ‘cello and piano (World Premiere)
Hindemith | Duo for viola and ‘cello
Dvorak | Piano quartet in E flat major op. 87

The commissioning and premiere of Almost A Boogie by Alvin Singleton is made possible by the Argosy Foundation and the Twentieth Century Unlimited Foundation.

Tickets: $15/adults, $5/students. Children under 12 admitted free of charge. To reserve tickets, call (617) 744-0452.

Eliesha Nelson and John McLaughlin Williams Perform 'Blues Lointains' on Video

AfriClassical has received this word from violist Eliesha Nelson regarding a Sono Luminus video of “Blues Lointains” (6:46) a work on the CD “Quincy Porter, Complete Viola Works"; Dorian Recordings DSL 90911 (2009):

“The video of me and John M. Williams performing the Blues Lointains is finally available! I have a link to it on my blog at Hope you enjoy! Eliesha”

Those who follow the link to Eliesha Nelson's website will also find a photo of her newborn son!

Comment by email
Thanks for the notice Bill! JMW

Sunday, November 22, 2009

South African National Youth Orchestra: 'Isijabane' of Mokale Koapeng at Stellenbosch Dec. 9

[Mokale Koapeng]

Sophia Welz of writes to us:
“Dear Bill, The SA National Youth Orchestra will perform a fantastic concert in December in Stellenbosch. We've included a South African selection for the first half: 'Isijabane' by Mokale Koapeng, 'Strobe' by Robert Fokkens and 'Peach Blossoms' by Peter Klatzow. We're very excited about the inclusion of more South African repertoire to our list.”
“As part of the Konservatorium Concert Series, the South African National Youth Orchestra (SA NYO) returns to the Cape after a long absence for a one-night-only, not-to-be-missed concert at the Endler Hall at the University of Stellenbosch, at 20:00 on Wednesday 9 December. A scintillating programme of South African works by Mokale Koapeng, Robert Fokkens and Peter Klatzow, as well as the Russian masterpiece, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, will showcase the talent of the top youth orchestra in the country as they share their love for South African music with the audience. The orchestra will be conducted by the young Swedish sensation, Fredrik Burstedt, who makes his debut in South Africa.”

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Greg Kostraba on "The Toledo Clarinets", With Music of William Grant Still

[ABOVE: William Grant Still (Photo is the sole property of William Grant Still Music, and is used with permission.) BELOW: The Toledo Clarinets”; Greg Klaas, clarinet; Jocelyn Langworthy, clarinet; Shannon Ford, clarinet; Kevin Schempf, clarinet; Chelsea Tipton II, clarinet; Elliott Ross, clarinet; Greg Kostraba, piano; “Sonatina for Clarinet Choir” (11:38), Jerome Moross; “Lyric Quartette” (15:18), William Grant Still; “Quartet for Four B-Flat Clarinets” (10:28), Sean Osborn; “Christmas in the Western World (Las Pascuas)” (18:51), William Grant Still; “De Profundis” (10:43), Christopher Dietz; Cambria CAMCD-1190 (2009)]

Greg Kostraba, D.M.A., is a classical pianist who combines piano performance with Public Radio broadcasting. We interviewed him on his new CD on November 19, 2009.
It seems like kind of a strange reversal of roles to me, after years of calling up and asking you to play "Dances in the Canebrakes" by Florence Price...
(Laughs) That's right!
Which you always did!
Yes, I loved playing it. Your requests were always fun! I hear they've gotten rid of that request show now. I enjoyed doing that one.
Well, we're discussing a Cambria Master Recordings new release, and this is Cambria CD-1190?
Released in 2009, I believe just quite recently, Greg?
October 27th.
And you are the producer of the recording?
That is correct.
So we can ask you about all aspects of the music and the performance. Would you like to tell our readers what your position is in Public Radio?
Well, I am now, for almost a year, the Program Director at WBAA in West Lafayette, Indiana, Public Radio for Purdue University. We have an AM and an FM station, and the FM is mostly classical.
Could you briefly describe your previous position, the one in which I came to know you?
Oh sure! I spent 7 years at WGTE-FM, Toledo, Ohio as the Classical Music Director, and I was given lots of free range to do interesting things and to do creative programming. I certainly tried my best to do that, with a live radio program called "Live From FM 91," in which I first had "The Toledo Clarinets" back in 2005, and some other things too, including an hour-long radio special on William Grant Still's music that we did at Bowling Green State University. That was syndicated on 60 radio stations across the country.
Is that right!
If I could back up just a little bit, I believe you have Master's and Doctor's of Musical Arts, is that right?
That's right. I have both of those degrees from the College-Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati.
And are they in Piano Performance?
They are both in Piano Performance, yes. And that's actually where I became acquainted with and interested in the music of William Grant Still.
How did that come up during your studies?
When I started the Doctorate I switched to a teacher, Richard Fields, who was the first pianist to really record William Grant Still's music back in the 1980s. And he was a masterful artist and a consummate musician, and a strong advocate for music of William Grant Still and other African American composers as well. Richard Fields was Black himself and a very, very fine musician, and I miss him dearly. He passed away a few years back, and I still think of him fondly and often.
So he had quite an impression on you?
Absolutely! He steered me toward interesting avenues of repertoire that I hadn't known about before, all of which was superb music! All of which was valuable and really not too much was all that well known. For me in particular he was realy interested in bringing a wide range of musical experiences to my life that I hadn't really had much acquaintance with before. He he knew so much repertoire and so much great music! He had a fertile musical imagination. He had a great knowledge of William Grant Still.
I see.
And he was really willing and interested in sharing that knowledge with all of his students.
Were there others who were also influenced favorably toward William Grant Still?
I believe so. When I went back for occasional master classes with him, there were some of his students that did play the "Three Visions," which were certainly his best-known work for piano.
Yes. And then do I recall correctly that the title of your doctoral work was "The Piano Music of William Grant Still"?
Well, no. I did a lecture-recital on William Grant Still's music for piano and chamber music with piano.
I see.
Focusing on the "Three Visions" and "Pastorela." My goal was to have that on the hundredth anniversary of Still's birth, and I had set up the room and got it scheduled for May 11 of 1995. Something came up and the violinist I worked with wasn't able to do it that day. I was happy to say it was the beginning of the second hundred years after the birth of William Grant Still when I gave that lecture-recital.
Did you have occasion to repeat that lecture-recital?
No, I never had actually. But the lecture-recital format isn't one that tends to work for general audiences. The lecture-recital was about 25-30 minutes of lecture and then 25-30 minutes of playing, and I find when I am performing that people, and part of this came from my radio experience too, that people don't want to sit through 30 minutes of talking, most of the time.
That's not too surprising!
They do want performers to inform them about the music, to enhance the musical experience, but they don't want to be lectured to. The material that I gathered for that I have incorporated into all of my programs which have featured William Grant Still's music. And I've done a lot of chamber music of his, I've done piano and orchestra music of his, and then solo piano music of his as well. So all of that has really stayed with me, but not in the format in which it was originally given.
How did you become in contact with Judith Anne Still, his daughter?
I was so excited about the music of William Grant Still I was buying everything I could find, chamber music and piano music in particular. By 1995 I had been at WGUC, the classical music radio station in Cincinnati, and I wanted to do a radio program, and that was the first radio program I did on William Grant Still, and combined my interest and love for this music and share it with radio audiences. So I had musician-friends of mine at CCM, the Conservatory, come in and play. We had the "Lyric Quartette," we had the "Incantation and Dance for Piano," the "Miniatures for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano." I had Richard Fields come in and play "The Visions" and "The Bells" and it turned into a 90-minute show on William Grant Still's music. As part of that, I sought to further enhance the musical experience, and knowing all this music and loving it so much, I interviewed Judy Still for that radio program. And that was my first contact with her. Richard had wanted me to talk with her for some time and that was the chance to really get that to work out.
What would you say "The Toledo Clarinets" is? What would you call it, a clarinet choir?
It is a clarinet choir, yes, and as part of my wanting to do creative and interesting radio programming in Toledo, I - there are so mnany great musicians in the Toledo area that play with the Toledo Symphony. Kevin Schempf, who teaches at Bowling Green State University, is fabulous! And I just thought, "Wouldn't it be nice to have all these terrific musicians in the same room, at the same time, playing music for clarinets!" And I didn't know much of what was out there for that combination, save the piece by Jerome Moross which is on the CD which I just absolutely adored and wanted to get recorded! Aside from that I didn't really know much of what was out there for that combination. So, I thought, "Let's read through some things, and put together this 'Live From FM 91' radio program."
Who were the other 5 people involved, Greg?
Well, I would say the core members of the group are Georg Klaas, Jocelyn Langworthy, Kevin Schempf and Shannon Ford.
They're all still with the group, right?
Yes, and they're all still in Toledo. Shannon is a free lance musician who teaches at Adrian College. The other three play in the Toledo Symphony, on the Toledo Symphony roster, and Kevin's main job is at Bowling Green state University.
Then you have a couple of others, I believe?
Yes, we augmented that with Chelsea Tipton, who is a fabulous conductor as well as a clarinetist. And Elliott Ross, who's in the Ann Arbor Symphony. The six of them are playing on that one piece together. The rest of the works on the program are for 4 clarinets, and then I was fortunate enough to play piano on one of the pieces on the CD as well.
The "Sonatina For Clarinet Choir," would that be the one where the six are playing?
That's the one for 6, yes.
The two works of William Grant Still, would you like to mention what the first one is?
The first one is the "Lyric Quartette." I've been hearing it a lot more on the radio now, and not just my radio programming but national radio programming as well, for string quartet. It's a lovely work, and I thought it would be really nice to have that one on the CD.
I believe (15:18) is the time?
That's right.
It has three interesting titles for the movements.
Yes, they're all - evidently they were inspired by friends of the composer, is my understanding although it's kind of shrouded in mystery, I think, a little bit. "The Sentimental One" is the first and then "The Quiet One" second and then there's "The Jovial One." What I find is interesting about "The Quiet One" particularly, it's in an Inca melody, and William Grant Still as your readers probably know was fascinated by music from all across the Western Hemispere, folk music in particular, from all different places. So it's not at all surprising that he had an Inca melody included in the "Lyric Quartette."
This seems very timely, since it was just last month that his "Western Hemisphere Symphony" was released for the first time, on Naxos.
Is that finally out?
Yes, it was released about a month ago. There are Symphony 4 and 5. The other one besides the "Western Hemisphere" is the "Autochthonous," which he defines as referring to the people of the United States.
All the people of the United States.
So it's a stage of his recognition of the fusion of musical cultures and as you say, the cultures throughout the Western Hemisphere. Yes, that's available on the Naxos label. I believe this clarinet CD on the Cambria label will also be distributed by Naxos. Is that right?
Right, yes that is distributed by Naxos. When I was pitching this project to various record companies, one of the things that attracted me about Cambria was that they were going to have and they now do have Naxos distribution, so that's going to be worldwide. It's really exciting!
Yes, that's quite an opportunity! The larger work, and perhaps the one that's more relevant seasonally is "Christmas In The Western World (Las Pascuas)." I believe you arranged that one?
Actually I arranged the "Lyric Quartette" and that one for "The Toledo Clarinets."
So the two works of William Grant Still?
Right, again showing my interest and enthusiasm for the composer's music.
Of these 10 tracks it appears that 9 of them are from various cultures and countries in the Western Hemisphere, such as Argentina, Nicaragua and so on, and one of them is actually composed I believe by William Grant Still and his wife Verna Arvey?
Right! The concluding one in the set, "Sing! Shout! Tell The Story!" is a William Grant Still original and as he writes in the score, "In the style of a Negro Spiritual." It's a great ending to the set! It's not because it's flashy, but because it's solid! It's a solid piece of music, the rhythm has to be solid throughout, he indicates that it has to be done at a certain tempo, or at least it can't be faster than the tempo and I think that's the tempo we strove for on the CD. When we were playing through it in recording it, some of the clarinetists were wondering "Well maybe it should be faster." Once we got through it and we listened to it afterwards, we realized again, he knew exactly what he was doing! He knew exactly what he was talking about and he knew exactly what he wanted. The tempo keeps it from being kind of a runaway train to end it. Instead it ends very excitingly and energetically.
I imagine some people will inquire about the availability of the lyrics. Is there some place they can be directed?
That I don't know because we didn't use the lyrics.
Well, they can ask William Grant Still Music then.
I'm sure they can, yes. Any question about Still's music, go to Judy and you'll get an answer that will be satisfying to you. She's so knowledgeable and so - you know she pretty much singlehandedly has brought his music back into the forefront of American 20th Century composition.
That's really an outstanding contribution! I can't think of an analogy of a second-generation person in a composer's family accomplishing what she has accomplished!
No, no one I know of has been able to do what she has done in that regard.
Today's the opening of her conference that was long-awaited of William Grant Still, "Music and the Arts: Still Our Only Future."
Right. I would love to be down there, but my "Chamber Music Series in Toledo" has a concert on Sunday, so there was no way I'd be able to make it down there and then back up to Toledo, and I still have to get my job done here at WBAA, so I wish Judy the best and I'm sure her conference is just wonderful!
I'm sure it is; we posted a message on the blog from Darryl E. Harris, Sr. that said to people who are attending the Concert tonight to say hello to the Second Bassoonist! He particularly was looking forward to it as a part of the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra performing the "Afro-American Symphony" for the first time with that organization in Mississippi.
I'm sure that's true! I'll read that when I've gone off the phone with you.
I think I've basically asked the questions I wanted, but I'd like to give you an opportunity to fill in what else you think readers should know?
One thing that I was thinking about as I was preparing for our interview, what was most fun about doing "Christmas In The Western World" was in terms of all the decisions that the ensemble had to make. In terms of, "Do you take all the repeats or do take one of the repeats?," "Which clarinet will take this line?" because it was originally written for soprano, alto, tenor and bass. Which instrument serves the best purpose at a given time for a given song could change from song to song. So generally, the soprano part was taken by an e-flat clarinet, the alto was taken by a b-flat clarinet, and the tenor and bass taken by bass clarinets. At times the second bass clarinet was written down an octave; we dropped it down an octave, to give it a fuller sound. Sometimes we dropped the e-flat clarinet out of the mix, sometimes we dropped one of the bass clarinets out of the mix. It was really an interesting process to see how that all developed over the course of rehearsals, and then over the course of the recording.
Is there an artistic director of the group, is there collective decision-making or what?
I think it's collective decision-making. What was on the CD we kind of arrived at together. Then the kind of artistic decisions like that were all done together. Very collaborative! Everyone knows each other and has played with each other in different contexts for a long time, and it was really a neat process to be a part of!
So you're still a part of the group?
Well, I'm kind of the promoter, the advocate, the CD producer. I'm trying to get performances at various concert venues in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan, and I'm just trying to build awareness of this ensemble and give them more opportunities to perform this repertoire because it's really something they don't normally do on a regular basis. They're symphony players; they're teachers; Shannon Ford plays incredible saxophone as well as clarinet. She does a lot with her saxophone group called "Sax 4th Avenue" and plays jazz with the Scott Grinnell Orchestra in Detroit. So this "Toledo Clarinets" project was an artistic outlet that they didn't have, that they probably didn't even think about until it was brought to their attention that "Hey, this is a great thing to be doing and it's a very exciting process and you should all get together and read through music and start playing."
It must be an enriching part of the careers of the people who participate!
Yes, I think it definitely is!
It certainly helps get some fine music heard in the community!
Right! And it's nice because the clarinet choir, either four or six, there's not that much repertoire for it, and I'm happy to have been able to have contributed a little bit, not only to the advancement and knowledge of the music of William Grant Still, which is something that I've been passionate about ever since Richard Fields introduced me to his music 15 years ago, but also to build up the repertoire for this particular ensemble, this particular clarinet choir type of ensemble.
I congratulate you on your accomplishment! It's certainly a singular achievement as far as I'm aware!
Well, thank you!
Well, once again, Greg, thank you very much for your cooperation and I hope that the recording reaches many people and the music becomes much better known!
Thank you very much! Thanks for all that you do! Your site is incredible and one of the really neat things about having been in Toledo for as long as I have was getting to know your project and your passion for music of African American composers, and it's just really neat!
Well, I appreciate that. That's always good to know.