Saturday, February 26, 2011 'Cellist Donald White was the first black musician hired by the Cleveland Orchestra in 1957.'

[Cellist Donald White was the first black musician hired by the Cleveland Orchestra in 1957. He was a native of Richmond. / Photo by Herbert Ascherman, Cleveland Orchestra]

Richmond, Indiana
“Fast Fact About Local Black History
Q: What 1943 Richmond High School graduate was the first black musician hired by the Cleveland Orchestra?
A: Cellist Donald White was hired in 1957 by the Cleveland Orchestra and performed with the organization for nearly 40 years.

“White, a middle child among seven, played tuba as a youth. When his sister began studying the cello, he developed a fascination with it. He started to play cello at age 16. After White was drafted by the U.S. Navy in 1943, he played bass tuba and peckhorn in the Navy band. He did not give up his cello studies. After leaving the Navy, White studied for a year at Earlham College before seeking a music degree at Roosevelt University in Chicago.

“In Chicago, White performed with an African-American orchestra and the Chicago Civic Orchestra, according to a biography posted online at The History Makers website,
http://www.thehistorymakers, which offers oral and written histories of African-Americans who have influenced history.

“In 1953, White earned a fellowship at the University of Hartford in Connecticut. While earning his master's degree at the university, he was assistant principal cellist of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and worked with the University of Hartford Symphony Orchestra. White auditioned for the Cleveland Orchestra in 1957 and retired from its service in 1995.

“His wife, Dolores White, is a composer and pianist who worked at several colleges and music schools before retiring in 2000. She has had numerous commissions and grants to compose. Donald White died July 31, 2005. His wife continues to live in the Cleveland area. Their children, Darrow and Diana, followed their parents into the musical field. Diana White-Gould is a choral teacher at the Cleveland School of the Arts, where under her leadership, 26 students won the opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City, according to a Feb. 6 The Plain Dealer newspaper article.”

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