Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Vector: 'Music is Universal: The Sounds of Richard Alston'

[Richard C. Alston, Pianist]

The Vector, the student newspaper of the New Jersey Institute of Technology
Posted on 16 February 2010
Mike Lowry
Frank Minichini
Staff Writer
Wednesday February 3rd in the Jim Wise Theatre, Essex County College professor and Julliard School of Music graduate Richard Alston performed a piano concert featuring classical music by composers of African descent. The concert, according to Alston, was 'A labor of love' and a tribute to the contributions people of color have made to the classical music genre throughout history. 'I stand on their shoulders,' he said before the concert began, 'if it wasn’t for what they went through, I wouldn’t be performing here today.'

The entire theater was packed with students, professors, faculty, staff, deans, and administrators eager for something unique and compelling. In a little over an hour, Alston performed pieces from a wide range of artists including Joseph Boulogne Chevalier de St. Georges, Scott Joplin, R. Nathaniel Dett, Florence Price, Margaret Bonds, and George Walker. In fact, for almost all of the songs, Alston played without the aid of a score. When asked, he admitted that in fact the entire repertoire was committed to memory, and the only reason he had the score at all for some selections was because he had only recently memorized them.

The most important things that Alston hoped his audience learned from the composers he highlighted was 'The fact that they exist, and that they’ve existed for a long time.' He also added that 'Music is an international language,' and 'Everybody—any race of people—can write anything, and write it well.'” “Alston was passionate about his connection to other composers and musicians of his own heritage. 'When you play a part of music, you are becoming part of something that was created by somebody, and there is, I feel, a spiritual connection.' He continued to say that 'Music is beyond this,' meaning that the nature of music transcends the boundaries of the physical world and touches something deeper." [Margaret Bonds, R. Nathaniel Dett, Scott Joplin, Florence B. Price, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges and George Walker are profiled at AfriClassical.com]

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Richard, Wonderful, wonderful and congratulations! Yes, Richard. To know that the works of these artists exist and the compositions are of great merit is important. Kudos to you for your insight and determination. -- Gwen Moten

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hi Prof. I really enjoyed learning about black composers and watching you play...