Friday, December 9, 2011 'How Robert Ray, Fred Onovwerosuoke and Other St. Louis Composers are Changing Classical Music'

[Fred Onovwerosuoke]

AfriClassical presents a brief excerpt from a lengthy article which provides a fascinating overview of the many cultural and regional elements which have enriched the genre to its present vibrant state, contrary to persistent stereotypes of a narrow and static genre:

Thursday, December 8, 2011 / 12:00 AM
by Gary Scott
“In St. Louis, many wonderful programs exist to make it possible for students from all backgrounds to participate in the production of classical music. Prior to his untimely death in an auto accident while on a road performance, violinist Kim Williams labored tirelessly to establish the Cameron Youth Orchestra for African-American students. Following in his footsteps, the Orchestrating Diversity program provides both year round instruction and performance opportunities for talented minority students, combining interaction with St. Louis Symphony players, music professors and other professional musicians. Providing access to solid music education, delivered by master performers, is key to perpetuating and expanding our heritage of classical music.

“St. Louisan Fred Onovwerosuoke, orginally from Nigeria, long active in musical affairs in our area, has instituted a new series of Intercultural Music Initiative concerts, which opened their current season on November 20 at the Centene Center. Mr. Onovwerosuoke has always worked to build bridges of true understanding and cooperation between cultures, and his new venture, part of African Arts, is committed to the performance of contemporary African, Hispanic and Asian works, while maintaining links with the traditional European repertoire of classical music. Future performances during the 2011-12 season will feature the Songs of Africa Ensemble—comprised of Africans and non-Africans alike-—including a program on January 29 at Maryville University featuring music from the continents of the Americas, Africa and Asia.

“True strength arises not from tearing down foundations, but from building upon them. The European heritage of classical music represents some of humankind's finest efforts, and the work of the European composers must never be forgotten or overlooked. But the broadening of classical music, a process which began not recently, but at the very inception of serious music, is perhaps the finest tribute we can pay to those who have gone before us. Music is bigger than any of us.”

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