Monday, October 3, 2011

Recordings of Music of Philippa Duke Schuyler by John McLaughlin Williams to Air on BBC-Radio 3 on Oct. 14

[Philippa Duke Schuyler; John McLaughlin Williams]

Bob Shingleton of the classical music blog On An Overgrown Path, based in the U.K. has long been an intrepid explorer of neglected music history of composers and musicians of African descent. Today he sends exciting news on this year's recordings of piano music of Philippa Duke Schuyler by the conductor and pianist John McLaughlin Williams:

"Bill, good news - BBC Radio 3 is broadcasting a profile of the black American composer and pianist Philippa Schuyler."

Monday, October 03, 2011
Young, gifted, black and now on the BBC
Surprising where these paths lead. A fascination with Philippa Schuyler led to John McLaughlin Williams' priceless recordings and analysis of her early piano music. And now that path leads to a BBC Radio 3 programme.

My two paths in August celebrating the 80th anniversary of the birth of the black American musician sparked an email from BBC producer Michael Surcombe asking if I would have any objections to a radio feature on Philippa Schuyler being developed using John McLaughlin Williams as a contributor. To which my immediate response was, of course there would be no objections.

The BBC programme has been made with my agreement, but I have no other involvement in it. It will be broadcast on Radio 3 at 8.25pm on October 14 during the interval of a concert of American music. The 20 minute feature is titled The Colour of Genius and the presenter is the composer Ella Spira who has worked with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the Ministry of Sound and the Royal Ballet. John McLaughlin Williams' contribution was recorded in WRCJ-FM in Detroit, Michigan and the recordings of Philippa's piano music made by him for An Overgrown Path are being used by the BBC.

Kathryn Talalay, who wrote the definitive life of Philippa, is also a contributor and a rare copy of the pianist's quasi-autobiography Adventures in Black and White has been found by BBC researchers. I know that John has tracked down a copy of Philippa's only commercial recording; this is of music by Turina, Mussorgsky, Liszt and Copland and has been out of the catalogue for decades, but I do not know if it features in the programme.

I have invited the BBC to contribute a guest post on the making of the programme and hope that this will be written by Ella Spira - more details when they are available from the BBC. For my part it is very rewarding to see the diabolus in musica again refreshing the parts other media cannot reach.

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