Thursday, March 31, 2011

San Francisco Classical Voice: 'About Time to Hear Some Duke Ellington'; Lara Downes & Brubeck Jazz Quintet

[Lara Downes]

Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts
By Michael Zwiebach
“'Make history live,' runs the cliche. 'Easier said than done,' reply the rest of us. It’s a rare treat to encounter a concert so well-thought-out that it evokes a time and place in the past and also draws immediate connections to our own lives. The audience at Lara Downes’ Duke Ellington–inspired concert, 'Long Time Coming,' at the Mondavi Center April 9 and 10, may end up feeling as transported by the images and thoughts the event inspires as by the artist’s piano playing. Downes’ starting point is Ellington himself. One of America’s greatest composers by any standard, he is something more than that to Downes, who is steeped in the history of the Harlem Renaissance, both by accident of birth and by study.

“'I see him most as a figure who was able to effect tremendous change without looking like he was trying very hard. He was a statesman without being obvious about it — and he was criticized during his lifetime for that. But, when you look at the way he presented jazz, and presented himself and the music of a people and a culture, that was a tremendous gift. Working with the Brubeck Institute [Jazz Quintet, which plays in the concert], we were talking a lot about cultural ambassadorship, which is something, unfortunately, that isn’t actively promoted right now. But it was so important in the mid-20th century, and was important to Dave Brubeck himself. [Ellington] had a tremendous impact abroad, but he also had a huge effect at home. So much of how we look at jazz and African-American culture now comes from [that ambassadorship].'

“Ellington is also bound up with Downes’ musicianship in a more personal way. 'The two first pieces that I remember as a child were Ellington’s Sacred Concerts — my parents used to listen to them — and Glenn Gould’s recording (the early one) of the Goldberg Variations. So I feel that this project is taking me back to my whole trajectory.'” “The music on Downes’ concert takes off from Ellington’s seminal piano concerto, New World A-Comin’. That piece has a story connected with it that Downes wants to elucidate.

“'Ellington’s piece was inspired by a book by Roi Ottley called New World A-Coming: The American Negro – His History and Literature [1943]. Ottley was an African-American writer and journalist, part of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s–’40s, and one of the first African-American overseas correspondents.'” “'As a segue to that, he had a radio show in Harlem for several years during the war, with the same title.'” “'And Ellington wrote the theme music for the radio show. So I listened to some of the radio shows, which are just like a time capsule of the period, and I became very interested in integrating different aspects of spoken word into this piece.'

“To that end, Downes commissioned composer David Sanford to write a companion piece to Ellington’s concerto, calling it Long Time Coming, which weaves segments of Ottley’s radio show into the fabric of the music. And to draw the larger connections between then and now, 'I wanted to find a spoken-word piece that would represent today in not too-specific a way. The piece, in my mind, is also about tomorrow — past, present, and future. And when I came to the poetry of [former U.S. Poet Laureate] Rita Dove — you know, she’s a musician as well and she just loved this project as well, and her piece is so beautiful and appropriate. So everything just came together.'” [Duke Ellington (1899-1974) is profiled at]

Kelly Hall-Tompkins Provides Concert Schedule of O'Connor String Quartet from April to July

[O'Connor String Quartet]

Kelly Hall-Tompkins provides this
schedule information to AfriClassical:

O'Connor String Quartet

Kelly Hall-Tompkins, Violin
Gillian Gallagher, Viola

April 3 Brooklyn Public Library at 4pm
April 30 Ventura, California
May 6 Brevard, North Carolina
July 7 Tanglewood
July 12 Boulder, Colorado

Austin Daily Herald: Brian Pfaltzgraff in 'I Lift Mine Eyes Unto the Hills' by Adolphus Hailstork, Wartburg Choir 7:30 PM 4/1

[Adolphus Hailstork]

Austin Daily Herald
Austin, Minnesota
Published 6:30am Thursday, March 31, 2011
“The Wartburg Choir will perform works by European composers and American folk songs and spirituals during its concert Friday, April 1 in Austin. The 85-member choir, under the direction of Dr. Lee Nelson, associate professor of music, will sing at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 1600 W. Oakland Ave., at 7:30 p.m. Its program will feature selections from its upcoming European tour and collaboration with the Austin High School choir.

“'This year’s theme of “Sing to the Lord a New Song!” honors the past traditions of the Wartburg Choir, while acknowledging the future direction and evolution of the choir,' Nelson said. The program, he added, will include 'hallmark works sung by past Wartburg Choirs' and will premiere two new works. Tenor Dr. Brian Pfaltzgraff, assistant professor of music, will sing 'I Lift Mine Eyes Unto the Hills' by African-American composer Adolphus Hailstork and other selections. [Adolphus C. Hailstork (b. 1941) is an Eminent Scholar at Old Dominion University and is profiled at]

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Peter Henderson Performs '24 Studies in African Rhythms' of Fred Onovwerosuoke, 7:30 PM April 2 Christ Church Cathedral

[Fred Onovwerosuoke]

Composer Dr. Fred Onovwerosuoke tells AfriClassical this performance by pianist Peter Henderson will be a World Premiere performance of all 24 Etudes at one concert:

Saturday, April 2, 2011, 7:30 pm
Christ Church Cathedral
1210 Locust St.
Peter Henderson will perform The People United Will Never Be Defeated! by Frederic Rzewski and 24 Studies in African Rhythms by fellow St. Louisan Fred Onovwerosuoke. The People United is a theme and 36 variations on “El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido,” a song from the Unidad Popular coalition in Chile. Extended techniques and technically demanding passages build to frequent, forceful climaxes.

Mr. Henderson is a strong advocate of new music, having given several premieres of solo piano works over the past several years. In addition to solo recitals, Henderson has performed with noted German violist Roland Glassl, the Ilex Piano Trio, the Garth Newel Piano Quartet, and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

“In the classical music crowd in St. Louis, Henderson is a name to conjure with – up there with David Robertson, the musical director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, who makes use of Henderson’s talents often. Onovwerosuoke, who produced and executive-produced this recording, selected an exciting variety of tunes and tempos for Henderson’s expert hands.” –Chris King, St. Louis American

Bass-Baritone Morris Robinson is 'Commendatore' in 'Don Giovanni' of Florida Grand Opera from April 16, Miami

[Morris Robinson (Lisa Kohler)]

John Malveaux of sends this news:
“Congratulation to Bass-Baritone Morris Robinson who is currently rehearsing for the role of Commendatore in DON GIOVANNI with the Florida Grand Opera scheduled to open April 16th in Miami”

“A graduate of the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Mr. Robinson made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in their production of Fidelio. He has since appeared there as Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte (both in the original production and in a new children’s English version), the King in Aida, and in roles in Nabucco, Tannhäuser, and the new productions of Les Troyens and Salome.”

“He also appears in Carnegie Hall as part of Jessye Norman’s Honor Festival, and will be presented in recital by The National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. An Atlanta native, Mr. Robinson is a graduate of The Citadel and received his musical training from the Boston University Opera Institute.

Soprano Marlissa Hudson's CD; Music of African and African American Composers, 7 PM April 1, Pilgrim UCC St. Louis

[Marlissa Hudson, soprano and Darryl Hollister, pianist]

African Musical Arts, Inc.
ST. LOUIS (March 15, 2011)— With a voice that has been called “beautiful, rich and elegant” and “capable of telling a story,” Soprano Marlissa Hudson stands poised to captivate audiences at her CD release concert. The concert will take place Friday April 1st at 7:00pm at Pilgrim UCC, located at 826 N. Union Blvd. in St. Louis and will feature music by African and African American composers from Hudson’s CD “Libera.” The concert, also featuring performances by the IMI String Quartet and Wendy Hymes, flute, will include an eclectic selection of works by composers Lettie Alston, Margaret Bonds, Mark Hayes, Felix Mendelssohn, Fred Onovwerosuoke, Rudy Jean Perrault, and Giacomo Puccini. Composers Lettie Alston and Fred Onovwerosuoke will give a pre-concert talk starting at 6:30pm.
The concert will feature several St. Louis premieres: selections from Onovwerosuoke’s 12 African Songs for Solo Voice and Piano, Lettie Beckon Alston’s Four Short Pieces for Soprano and Piano and Three Implied Jestors for Solo Flute, and Rudy Jean Perrault’s Brother Malcolm for Cello and Piano based on a fictional conversation between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King on the inauguration of Barack Obama as 44th President of the United States. Other artists performing are noted pianist Darryl Hollister from Boston, accompanying Hudson, the IMI String Quartet, flutist Wendy Hymes and the composer Lettie Alston, accompanying Hudson in a performance of her own compositions.

A native St. Louisan, Marlissa Hudson is also a graduate of the prestigious Peabody Conservatory, and has appeared as soloist in St. Louis and on either coast, with a repertoire including Bach, Rachmaninoff, Verdi, Richard Strauss and Gershwin. Ms Hudson was also selected to sing at the ceremonies to commemorate the establishment of the Ben Holt Memorial Chapter of the National Association of Negro Musicians, in Washington D.C. In his review in the St. Louis American, Chris King notes that “Marlissa Hudson has a fascinating voice that carries intense emotion at the high end of her range and moody soul on the low end...”
Admission to the concert is $10 for adults and $5 for students and children under 12. Tickets can be purchased by calling Pilgrim Church at (314) 367-8173, Monday-Thursday, 10 AM-4 PM, or African Musical Arts Inc. at (314) 652-6800. (314) 652-6800.

The Intercultural Music Initiative Concert Series presents concerts, lecture-recitals, artist residencies and workshops about composers of African-descent along with the usual standard repertoire. Additional information about the Concert Series can be found at the website of its parent organization, African Musical Arts Inc., This concert is funded in part through Meet The Composer’s MetLife Creative Connections program. Future concerts will feature this pianist Peter Henderson, Gambian musician Alhaji Papa Susso, Italian pianist Silvia Belfiore, British oboist Althea Talbot-Howard, the Tema Youth Choir of Ghana, and more.

Founded in 1994, African Musical Arts Inc. has become the region’s premiere outlet for fostering and promoting composers of African-descent of traditional and contemporary choral music, as well as chamber and orchestral music that portrays Africa’s rich musical diversity.

Michael S. Wright on 'UK Arts Council Grants': "The 'axe' is likely to hit the music industry"

[Ignatius Sancho: An African Man of Letters; Reyahn King et al.; National Portrait Gallery of the U.K. (1997)]

Michael S. Wright is head of the International Society for African to American Music. He sends AfriClassical this commentary:

“The UK Government are about to announce £100 million cuts in grants by the Arts Council at 10am today. The 'axe' is likely to hit the music industry that is already being strained by local authority cut backs. This will mean it could become much more difficult for obtaining support for concerts, festivals, local theatre etc. These are the sort of events that I have been trying to raise interest in. It could also impact on regional orchestras.

New York City Housing Symphony Celebrates 40th Anniversary, Part 1

[Kay George Roberts, Janet Wolfe & Jerome Ashby (1956-2007)]

On Feb. 26, 2011 AfriClassical posted: “New York City Housing Symphony Orchestra in 'Black History Month Concert' at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall Mon., Feb. 21.” We noted that Kay George Roberts is on the faculty of the University of Massachusetts Lowell and was featured in 2010 in a series based on a cover article, For Kay Roberts, Strings Are the Thing; UMass Lowell Magazine, Spring 2009. We wrote that Professor Roberts told us about the Black History Month concert of The New York City Housing Symphony, which she had conducted on Monday, February 21, 2011:

“The New York City Housing Symphony Orchestra, now in its 40th Anniversary Season, celebrated Black History Month at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall at 8:00 PM, Monday, February 21, 2011. This Gala Benefit concert featured classical and jazz music by composers of African heritage — Duke Ellington, William Grant Still, Tunde Jegede (British), Adolphus Hailstork, William Foster McDaniel and Jack Jeffers. Eugene Moye, principal cellist of American Symphony Orchestra, was the featured soloist in Jegede’s Lamentation for cello and orchestra, a New York premiere, Kay George Roberts conducted.

“Long before the Sphinx Organization started to build diversity in classical music, there was Janet Wolfe. The 96-year old Wolfe, a long-time patron of minority musicians in New York City, founded New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Symphony Orchestra in 1971.”

Prof. Roberts subsequently suggested that AfriClassical post a story on the 40th anniversary of the NYCHA Symphony Orchestra. She has written this account of her involvement with the orchestra:

Kay George Roberts
“In July 1987, I made my NYC debut conducting the New York City Housing Orchestra for a concert in Damrosch Park with soloist Jerome Ashby, associate principal french horn of the New York Philharmonic. A professional symphony founded in 1971, the sixty-member orchestra consisted of diverse minorities and played for those living in the City's housing projects at free summer concerts, both in the projects and at city parks.

Throughout the summer months, wonderful music could be heard in numerous developments, at City Hall Plaza and in Central Park. Janet Wolfe was the person who made all this possible through her indefatigable leadership as Administrative Director of the Orchestra. I conducted the orchestra on subsequent occasions, including several performances at Alice Tully Hall, where I worked with such exceptional musicians as drummer Max Roach and photographer/composer Gordon Parks. They were both very good friends of Janet and deeply admired her for what she did for African American musicians in New York." [Duke Ellington, Adolphus C. Hailstork and William Grant Still are profiled at]

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

49th Music Kitchen Performance: 'Bridgett Kibbey-harp and Claire Chase-flute' Dec. 11, 2010

[49th Music Kitchen Performance: Kelly Hall-Tompkins with children at shelter; “Bridgett Kibbey-harp and Claire Chase-flute” Dec. 11, 2010]

Violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins, Founder and President of Music Kitchen: Food for the Soul sends AfriClassical word of the 49th Music Kitchen Performance, which took place on Dec. 11, 2010:

“Bridgett Kibbey-harp and Claire Chase-flute
**First Performance of Concert Artist Guild Partnership**
Women in Need- the Jennie Clark Residence December 11, 2010

“This evening's Music Kitchen was a great example not only of how unforeseen circumstances can be a blessing in disguise, but how caring people can mobilize and come together quickly to make great things happen to help others. I am very excited that tonight's concert was the first in the partnership with Concert Artists Guild to present the artists currently on their roster. Playing this evening was an amazing duo with Bridget Kibbey, harpist and Claire Chase, flutist. These two artists have a very full schedule of concertizing and nailing down a date proved challenging and required a few shifts, the last of which would not work for the shelter I had in mind or any of the other shelters I serve. I thought, 'why cancel when there is bound to be another underserved audience in New York that would really appreciate this performance?'

“Fortunately while I myself was performing at the Garth Newel Music Center in Virginia over Thanksgiving week, Hannah Riley, daughter of the Executive Director, told me how much she appreciated reading about my work with Music Kitchen and recommended that I contact a shelter in New York where she volunteers. I'm so happy that she spoke to me that day and that I kept her suggestion in mind. Because when I contacted her with such short amount of time before the date where I had wonderful artists scheduled and no place to present them, she and the shelter both leapt into action to be able to take advantage of this opportunity for their clients. Many thanks to Mary Beth Gonzalez, Shawna Martin and Hannah Riley for their fast facilitation efforts. But that's not all!

I recently met Penny Wigglesworth by phone. When she heard about Music Kitchen, she offered to donate something from her nonprofit - beautiful hand-made Teddy Bears. Women in Need is a family shelter for women and their children, a first for Music Kitchen concerts - so I thought it would be perfect to offer these to the children. But again, with the date fast approaching, Penny leapt into action, sending the bears overnight so that they would arrive in time! And they did. So, finally tonight all of these wonderful people put their time and talents together for a splendid performance for both the mothers and their children.

“Bridget and Claire performed a diverse program of works by Bach, Debussy and Piazzolla. They perform regularly as a duo, and their well-crafted performance was at once moving, spirited and virtuosic. The younger children in the room were boisterous at times, but both the children and their mothers were drawn in, as if magnetized by the music. As Bridget pointed out, their mood was a direct reflection of the music being played: The lively allegros made many joyfully bounce with the music. One boy handed me his card where he wrote one simple word – 'Happy.'

"The slow movement of the Bach Sonata brought a sublime peace to the listeners. Music and the arts in general, to quote a recent speech by President Obama, 'enriches our lives and inspires us to greatness.' so it was once again very gratifying to bring that gift of music here to the clients at the Jennie Clark Residence. But it was also a rare treat for me to hand out 24 Teddy bears to children at a homeless shelter, each child seemed to embrace the plushy adorable bears with a sense of relief, release and like being united with a trusted friend.

Baritone Ralph Cato and Countertenor Darryl Taylor in 'Akhnaten' of Opera Long Beach

[ABOVE: Ralph Cato BELOW: Darryl Taylor]

John Malveaux of MusicUNTOLD sends this news:
“Baritone Ralph Cato was cast in Opera Long Beach production of AKHNATEN to sing the role of Aye, Father of Neferttiti and advisor to the Pharaoh. The March 27, 2011 performance also included countertenor Darryl Taylor replacing Jochen Kowalski in the role of Akhnaten. Congratulations to Cato and Taylor.”

The website of Ralph Cato tells us:
“A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Cato moved to southern California to attend Northridge State. He went on to the University of Southern California and then to the University of California, Los Angeles, where he earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree.”

Darryl Taylor is Founder of The African American Art Song Alliance. His many CDs include a January 2011 release: How Sweet the Sound: A Charm of Spirituals; Darryl Taylor, countertenor; Brent McMunn, piano; Albany Records Troy1244 (2011).

Soprano Marlissa Hudson on St. Louis Public Radio 11:40 AM Friday, April 1

[Marlissa Hudson]

Marlissa Hudson is a lyric coloratura soprano whose new CD Libera has just been released by AMP Records. She tells AfriClassical:

“I'll also be on a radio show this Friday. Below is information on it:

11:40-12:00 Friday April 1st. They will have Marlissa Hudson, Darryl Hollister, and Lettie Beckon Alston as guests in studio and probably patch Jean Perrault in via phone line. The program is called Cityscape. Website is:

Thanks again!

San Francisco Examiner: Pianist Lara Downes Plays Florence Price, Samuel Barber & George Gershwin Noontime 3/29

San Francisco Noontime Concerts: “The Americans”
Old St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church
San Francisco, California
Tuesday, 29 March 2011 - 12:00 PM
Noontime Concerts
Samuel Barber, George Gershwin and Florence Price
Lara Downes

is profiled at
with Works List by
of Lawrence University Conservatory

Monday, March 28, 2011

Patrick D. McCoy: “Carmen Balthrop and the National Chamber Ensemble in 'Diva's Night Out'”

[Carmen Balthrop]

Patrick D. McCoy tells us:
“Legendary Metropolitan Opera soprano Carmen Balthrop was presented with the National Chamber Ensemble in 'Diva's Night Out.'

“REVIEW: Maestro James DePreist 'has led a career of quiet, consistent distinction' since 1964 conducting prize

[James DePreist conducts Oregon Symphony]

Music in Review
Published: March 28, 2011
"Avery Fisher Hall
James DePreist, the director of conducting and orchestral studies at the Juilliard School since 2004, has led a career of quiet, consistent distinction from the time he won the Dimitri Mitropoulos International Music Competition for Conductors in 1964, including a noteworthy tenure of more than two decades as music director of the Oregon Symphony. In a development that made headlines in January, Mr. DePreist will cede his Juilliard post to Alan Gilbert, the New York Philharmonic music director, in September.

"But it is welcome news that Mr. DePreist — who is now 74 and uses a motorized wheelchair because he contracted polio during a 1962 State Department engagement in Bangkok — will stay on at Juilliard as the director emeritus and principal conductor. His estimable connection to student players was underscored during a concert he gave with the Juilliard Orchestra on Friday evening." [ profiles James DePreist (b. 1936), who also has his own website,]

Adolphus Hailstork: “'Triumph in my Song' - based on...Phyllis Wheatley poem - written for William and Mary Choir in 2001”

[Adolphus Hailstork]

The African American composer Adolphus C. Hailstork (b. 1941) is an Eminent Scholar at Old Dominion University and is profiled at The College of William and Mary Choir recently made a 4-state Choir Spring Tour March 18-23, 2011 on which they sang a work composed for them by Adolphus Hailstork. The work's title was not mentioned in the Dover Post article on the tour. AfriClassical asked the composer which composition was being performed. Prof. Hailstork graciously replied:

Triumph in my Song - based on some (name escapes me) Phyllis Wheatley poem - written for William and Mary Choir in 2001.”
March 16, 2011
By Jennifer Dailey, Associate Editor
Dover Post
Dover, Del. —
“It was during his time in college when James Armstrong realized his love of music. When it became clear to him that music was something he could not live without, he decided to pursue a career in choral music. Now, Armstrong is the director of choirs and an associate professor of music at the College of William & Mary.

“The choir will be stopping in Dover on Friday, March 18, for the first stop of the Choir Spring Tour. The tour also features stops in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and in the choir’s home state of Virginia.” “We’ll also sing a song specifically written for the choir by Adolphus Hailstork. The song is based on a poem by Phyllis Wheatley. It was written in 2001 and we haven’t done it in almost 10 years. I don’t know how widely it’s been used, but it’s not something well known.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

St. Louis Today: 'Soprano Marlissa Hudson comes home for recital' 7 PM April 1 at Pilgrim United Church of Christ

[Libera: Works by Bonds, Hayes, Mendelssohn, Onovwerosuoke and Puccini; Marlissa Hudson, soprano; Peter Henderson, pianist; AMP Records AGCD 2106 (47:45)]

By Sarah Bryan Miller
Post-Dispatch Classical Music Critic
Posted: Sunday, March 27, 2011
“Soprano Marlissa Hudson has moved to Washington from her native St. Louis to build her career on the busy East Coast — but she's still very much a part of the local music scene. On Friday night, she'll celebrate her latest milestone with a recital and CD signing party. Entitled 'Libera,' the recording is a mixture of African songs by Fred Onovwerosuoke, spirituals jazzily arranged by Mark Hayes, and classics by Puccini and Mendelssohn, in what Hudson calls 'a purposeful classical mashup of composers.' It's available for download on iTunes, and in both hard copy and downloading through and

“Onovwerosuoke, better known as FredO, is a Ghanaian of Nigerian ancestry and a talented composer who is published by Oxford University Press. 'FredO is really the reason the CD happened,' Hudson says. 'Our kids went to same school' in St. Louis. When Hudson and FredO met, met, they clicked musically. FredO introduced Hudson to pianist Peter Henderson, a stalwart with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and other performers. 'When I heard Peter play, I said, “Whatever it is, if he's playing, I'll sing it,"' Hudson says.”

“For Friday's recital, Hudson will be accompanied by pianist Darryl Hollister, with assists from flutist Wendy Hymes, violinist Jessica Platt, violist Tanya Couture and cellist Kristin Sage, in a program that will include selections from the CD along with other songs. Now living in McLean, Va., Hudson is working, auditioning and performing. She'll sing the principal role of Sister Rose in Union Avenue Opera's production of Jake Heggie's 'Dead Man Walking' in August, and she's busy with church and oratorio gigs in the Washington area.”

The Intercultural Music Initiative Concert Series presents soprano Marlissa Hudson in recital
Where • Pilgrim United Church of Christ, 826 Union Boulevard
When • 7 p.m. Friday
How much • $10 ($5 for students and children under 12)
More info • 314-367-8173 or 314-652-6800 Alvin Singleton 'has adapted three of Dove’s poems into musical compositions'

[Alvin Singleton, Rita Dove]
Reviews, news and ideas on the arts in Atlanta
Books & More
by Parul Kapur Hinzen | Mar 25, 2011
Dove, a Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. poet laureate, visited Emory University earlier this week for a three-day residency encompassing several readings and musical performances of her work. She was joined in a public conversation about the relationship between literature and music by Robert Spano, conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and distinguished Atlanta composer Alvin Singleton, with whom Dove has collaborated in the past.

“Like the musician, the poet is conscious of measure as she writes, Dove explained. In 'Sonata Mulattica,' her latest collection of poems, music shines through as the center of an imaginary biography. Dove traces the unexpected life of George Bridgetower, an 18th-century mulatto violin prodigy whom Beethoven championed in Vienna until the two fell out over a woman, resulting in Bridgetower’s quick slide into obscurity.

“Singleton, who has adapted three of Dove’s poems into musical compositions, attributes the success of their collaborations to their shared temperament of restraint. His earliest venture with Dove, 'Between Sisters,' is based on her poem 'The House Slave,' about a young slave awakening in the master’s house to the horn summoning less privileged field slaves to work. While the words make clear that Dove 'dislikes that institution [slavery], she never raises her voice,' Singleton observed. 'And that guided me.' So there were no runs on the flutes in his composition, no flamboyancy in the piano playing. Instead, silence became a strong feature of the piece. An excerpt from this mournful song, marked by the trilling sound of a slave cry, was played, and Dove listened with eyes closed in contemplation, as though trying to gain its full meaning.”

“Singleton recalled the pleasure of growing up among jazz musicians in Brooklyn. Though he was made to study classical piano, he was so infatuated by the neighborhood sound, he said, that he composes to this day thinking in jazz structure.” [George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower (1780-1860) is featured at on a page researched and written by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma of Lawrence University Conservatory in Appleton, Wisconsin.]

48th Music Kitchen Performance: 'Overboard Vocals' from Boston Dec. 2, 2010

[48th Music Kitchen Performance: “Overboard Vocals” from Boston Dec. 2, 2010]

Violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins, Founder and President of Music Kitchen: Food for the Soul sends AfriClassical word of the 48th Music Kitchen Performance: “Overboard Vocals,” a male a cappella group which performed at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen on Dec. 2, 2010:

“A Pop Male Vocal Sextet
This morning, in the spirit of presenting excellent examples of chamber music from diverse traditions, I was very pleased to present the a cappella male vocal group 'Overboard' from Boston. Nick from the group originally emailed me following one of last season's press coverage articles. While I cannot possibly present all of the artists who contact me, some stand out and inspire me right away as something Music Kitchen audiences would enjoy and I am pleased when I have the resources to act on that inspiration and hire them. Overboard was just such a group: not only do they have an enormous repertoire that spans doo-wop to motet to R&B to standards, but their artistic excellence is a hallmark of their impact. Their songs are beautifully arranged, harmonized and performed.

“Plus they vocally produce instrumental sounds such as percussion that were good enough to fool my exceptionally talented professional percussionist husband. As always, the bustling Holy Apostles environment proves challenging acoustically, and the Overboard group was already down one singer who was away singing with the Boston Pops (the group expertly revised their arrangements to cover the missing 6th voice). But still the group won over the diners at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, one by one. There was an interesting twist on the exuberant responses and outbursts: when people are responding positively to instrumental chamber music, there's little that they can do to join in the music making. But make it a familiar doo-wop song from the 1950s and suddenly everyone is Frankie Valli!

"'Oh, No, no, no, please don't leave me!' a powerful voice belted, savoring the song, long after it had ended and just as Overboard was about to take a breath to start the next one. That happened more and more as their set went on; added harmonies could also be heard at various points in the room. This is the first time I decided to employ the more central and elevated stage (altar) area of the floor, since there were no instruments to contend with. They definitely made an impact there, with many listening and cheering them on from the closest spots to the music. But again, since there were no instruments involved, I thought it would be neat to have the singers go down amongst the listeners with their expressive singing and perfectly terraced harmonies. That proved to be a great idea as so many of the listeners loved having the music closer to them. One man was clearly transported to another era of his life as he listened, blocking everyone else out but the voices, unabashedly moving swaying and sometimes singing along with the music. Many listeners caught my eye to give me a thumbs up and as usual, several men thanked me for bringing such wonderful music to the shelter.

Adolphus Hailstork's 'New Wade’n Water' Played By Greenwood, S.C. High School Band April 7, Directed by Byron Hilley

[Adolphus Hailstork]

The African American composer Adolphus C. Hailstork (b. 1941) is an Eminent Scholar at Old Dominion University and is profiled at His website is at His works appear on 27 CDs and are very frequently performed:

Greenwood Today
GHS Band to Perform with Lander University Wind Ensemble
Posted on Sun, Mar 27, 2011
“The final performance of the season by Lander University’s Wind Ensemble, set for Thursday, April 7, will feature an appearance by the Greenwood High School Band, led by 1982 Lander graduate Byron Hilley.

"The GHS band will perform 'New Wade’n Water,' by American composer Adolphus Hailstork, then join the Wind Ensemble in the final offering of the season, a selection from Italian composer Ottorino Respighi’s 'The Pines of Rome.'”
New Wade ‘n Water
by Adolphus Hailstork
Released June 2003
New Wade ‘n Water is a contemporary adaptation of the traditional spiritual, Wade in the Water. Adolphus Hailstork incorporates blues scales, mixed meters and extended phrases in this piece.”

Organizing Committee: T-shirts for Saint-Georges International Festival Are Available

[“Saint-Georges Festival International” T-shirt]

The Saint-Georges International Festival celebrates the life and legacy of Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799), the Afro-French composer, violinist and conductor who was also a fencing champion. During the French Revolution, Saint-Georges served as Colonel of the Légion Saint-George comprised of 1,000 volunteers of color.

The Festival takes Place From 28 April - 1 May, 2011 in Guadeloupe. The “Off Festival” takes place from 1 April - 30 April, 2011. Inspiration for the Festival is credited to the American conductor Marlon Daniel. Our friend Jean-Claude Halley,, of the Saint-Georges Association, sends us photos of the T-shirt designed for the occasion. He also relays a message from the Organizing Committee for the Festival, which we have translated as follows:

“The T-shirts of the FESTIVAL are available!
They are beautiful and in three sizes.
The sale price is 10 Euros. [About $14.10 today]
We are looking for good volunteers to sell them.
The Committee[The life, fencing and music of Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799) are presented at]

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lead Performers in Scott Joplin's 'Treemonisha' rehearse 'under the skillful guidance of Opera Boston and Mssng Lnks'

[Jermaine Tulloch and Anita Murrell rehearse for the opera “Treemonisha,” which will be held April 29-30 and May 1. (The Boston Globe)]

The Boston Globe
Lawrence Harmon
“Artists and residents are discovering a cultural gem in Roxbury
March 27, 2011
YOU CAN’T tell people where to go to have fun, and each night an entertainment exodus takes place from Roxbury and other minority neighborhoods in Boston.”

“But there is a first-rate performance facility in Roxbury’s Dudley Square, the gateway to the city’s minority neighborhoods. Hibernian Hall is a four-story, paneled brick building that served as a social hall for the city’s Irish population during the first half of the 20th century.”
“Some artists and residents are discovering this gem. On a recent Friday night, a rehearsal for the Boston premiere of Scott Joplin’s opera, 'Treemonisha,’ was wrapping up at the same time that DJs were setting up for a big crowd at the Funkadelic Retro Throwback dance party in the grand ballroom.” “Where else in Boston could 40 vocalists, mostly teens, be close to home while rehearsing and performing an opera by an African-American ragtime composer? And all under the skillful guidance of Opera Boston and Mssng Lnks, a nonprofit group that trains talented minority students for careers in classical vocal music.

“Joplin’s storyline isn’t lost on the performers, who stand out from many of their peers, at least in terms of musical taste. Treemonisha, the opera’s heroine, is an educated, 18-year-old black woman who returns to her Arkansas plantation, where she struggles, suffers, and eventually prevails in her attempt to overcome her neighbor’s ignorance and superstition.

“Soprano Anita Murrell of Dorchester and countertenor Jermaine Tulloch of Mattapan, both 24, play the leads. They followed similar paths through Boston Arts Academy and the Longy School of Music. Feeling like outcasts in the land of rap didn’t really bother them. The greater challenge is trying to compete with singers who, unlike them, were immersed in classical music and introduced to composers from an early age. 'No matter how hard you try, you’re always playing catch-up,’ said Tulloch.” [Scott Joplin (1868-1917) was a Ragtime and Classical composer who is profiled at]

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bongani Ndodana-Breen: 'Winnie The Opera, Radio Promo'

Bongani Ndodana-Breen sends AfriClassical this release:

“Dear Friend,
What a journey! As we launch the final phase of our media campaign for the World Premiere of Winnie The Opera (, I thought I would share this radio promo with you which will be heard throughout South Africa. As always I am grateful to the wonderful family of very talented people assembled around this project and whose energies and commitment sustain our company and this exciting venture.

“We have been very blessed to have the support of our major partners the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra, The State Theatre of South Africa, The National Arts Council and the Department of Arts & Culture. Many many other South African people and institutions have walked this journey with us over the past 2 years, and we are grateful to them for getting us this far.

“Here is a link to the brief 30 second promo
Peace & Light”
Bongani Ndodana-Breen
Vundowil (Pty) Ltd

U. of Georgia student's “research focuses on the life and music of pianist prodigy Thomas 'Blind Tom' Bethune”

[Thomas “Blind Tom” Wiggins ( 1866 photo in London by Antoine Naudin)]

Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History
The Blog of the Archives Division
Thursday, March 24, 2011
“Today, we have two features about faculty and graduate students from the University of Georgia and the University of West Georgia -- all dynamic women doing relevant and engaged work related to African American culture and history. Another connection is that they've all conducted research in AARL's Archives Division.”

The post mentions JoyEllen Freeman, a student at the University of Georgia who is presently doing research on Thomas "Blind Tom" Wiggins. Her faculty advisor is Dr. Barbara McCaskill. A link is provided to a news release of the University of Georgia:

University of Georgia
Office of Public Affairs
News Service
March 21, 2011
Writer: Joëlle Walls
Contact: David S. Williams
Athens, Ga. – Original research and creative works by more than 180 University of Georgia undergraduates will be showcased at the 2011 Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities Symposium. The annual day-long event, which is open to the public, will be held on April 4 at The Classic Center in downtown Athens.”

“As a participant in the CURO Apprentice program, sophomore JoyEllen Freeman has been involved with the Civil Rights Digital Library under the guidance of her research mentor and English professor Barbara McCaskill, who also serves as co-director of the online archive. For the symposium, Freeman, who is from Alpharetta and pursuing bachelor’s degrees in English and English education, will be presenting a different project she conducted over the summer. Her current research focuses on the life and music of pianist prodigy Thomas “Blind Tom” Bethune, who was born into slavery in Georgia, in the context of race relations in the 19th century.

[Thomas “Blind Tom” Wiggins (1849-1908) is featured at, which presents a complete Works List compiled by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma of Lawrence University Conservatory. The most recent biography of the enslaved pianist is The Ballad of Blind Tom, Slave Pianist: America's Lost Musical Genius, written by Deirdre O’Connell and published by Overlook Press (2009). The book's website is]

Thursday, March 24, 2011

L'Académie Baroque Orchestra Programs Violin Concerto of Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges for 2012-2013 Season

[Leslie Kwan]

This week we received a message from L'Académie, informing us of an 18th century Sicilian program. We asked if the ensemble had considered performing works of Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799). We received an immediate reply from Leslie Kwan, harpsichordist and General Director of L'Académie. Here is an excerpt:

“Good morning Mr. Zick,
I hope this message finds you well. Our Marketing associate passed your question onto me and I'd thought I'd give you a little insight into our orchestra. L'Académie is a Baroque orchestra and the ensemble in residence at Marsh Chapel of Boston University. I am the harpsichordist and General Director. Our specialty is French baroque, but we also perform repertoire from Italy and Spain.

“Indeed, I am familiar with the music of Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges! We are programming his big violin concerto for our 2012-2013 season. It's not a 'baroque' work, but we will perform it and have the perfect musicians to do it justice. His story resonates with me very much and I know how important it is to perform his work, especially in a city like Boston, where there is so much opportunity to present composers like Saint-Georges, especially in a period setting.”

“Warmest regards,”

'Benefit Concert for Japan' by One World Symphony at Holy Apostles Church 8 PM April 3

[Front Row Left: Mariam Blacksher, violist and One World Symphony Member for Benefit Concert for Japan]

Mahler’s Symphony No. 3: What Love Tells Me
One World Symphony
Sung Jin Hong, Artistic Director and Conductor
Gustav Mahler: Finale, Symphony No. 3, What Love Tells Me (1896)
Olivier Messiaen: From Quartet for the End of Time (1941)*
John Lennon: Imagine (1971)**
Sung Jin Hong: Eye of the Storm for audience and symphony (2010)

*Orchestration by Sung Jin Hong (2010)
**Orchestration by Andrew Struck-Marcell (2010)

Sunday, April 3 at 8:00pm
Holy Apostles Church
296 Ninth Avenue at West 28th Street

$10: Tickets only available at the door

All proceeds will go towards the American Red Cross Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Relief Fund

Listen to One World Symphony perform Mahler’s Adagietto.

“At the request of One World Symphony’s musicians, One World Symphony is honored to contribute to Japan’s relief efforts from the recent earthquake and tsunami. All of the proceeds will go towards the American Red Cross Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Relief Fund.” “Continuing One World Symphony’s tradition of fostering active audience participation and in the spirit of worldwide community, John Lennon’s Imagine will be performed as a sing-along with audience in this symphonic arrangement.”