Friday, October 15, 2010

Daniel Hege, New Conductor of Wichita Symphony, Made First U.S. CD of Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges

[Maestro Daniel Hege and Violin Concertos by Black Composers of the 18th & 19th Centuries, Cedille 90000 035 (1997)]

The CBS Black Composers Series was recorded in the 1970s on LP by Maestro Paul Freeman and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, with major contributions by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma. It was not until 1997 that the Violin Concerto in A Major of Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges was recorded on CD. When KSN News Extra announced the appointment of Daniel Hege as Conductor of the Wichita Symphony, we felt compelled to add a comment, which was posted at We neglected to include the name of the violinist, Rachel Barton Pine, for whom the CD was also a triumph:

KSN News Extra
“Click on the video link at right to watch our KSN News Extra with the symphony's new conductor, Daniel Hege. Below is his official bio supplied by the Wichita Symphony:
He's been widely recognized as one of America's finest young conductors. His name is Daniel Hege. Currently in his tenth season as Music Director of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, Hege has earned critical acclaim for his fresh interpretations of the standard repertoire and for his commitment to creative programming. In June 2009, Mr. Hege was appointed Music Director of the Wichita Symphony and begins his tenure in September 2010.”

“In April 2003, Mr. Hege led the Syracuse Symphony in a critically acclaimed concert at a sold-out Carnegie Hall. He has also made two recordings - a disc with the Baltimore Symphony and the Morgan State University Choir featuring works by Adolphus Hailstork and a CD with the Syracuse Symphony with works by Verdi, Barber, Debussy, Respighi and James Johnson.”

Comment of William J. Zick
Maestro Daniel Hege conducted another recording which is the first U.S. CD of music of Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799). It is "Violin Concertos by Black Composers of the 18th & 19th Centuries," Cedille 90000 035 (1997). The other composers are Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Joseph White and Chevalier J.J.O. de Meude-Monpas. Gabriel Banat, biographer of Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, has found that Meude-Monpas was not of African descent. All four works are beautiful, however, and are exquisitely played.

Mark Clague, Professor of Music at the University of Michigan, wrote scholarly liner notes in the form of an essay, "From Commodity to Creator: The search for social equality through cultural virtuosity." Favorable reviews came from The New York Times and Classics Today, which assigned a score of "10/10" to the disc. This CD has an engraving of Saint-Georges which includes references to his fencing career as well as his role as a conductor. A detailed biography can be found at Maestro Hege should be recognized for this masterpiece of a recording, which remains in print.

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