Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Grave Marker and Orchestral Premiere of 'Yamekraw: A Negro Rhapsody' for James P. Johnson, Born Feb. 1, 1894

[ABOVE: Victory Stride: The Symphonic Music of James P. Johnson; The Concordia Orchestra; Marin Alsop, Conductor; Music Masters 67140 (1994) BELOW: Jazz Nocturne - American Concertos of the Jazz Age; Hot Springs Music Festival Symphony Orchestra; Richard Rosenberg, conductor; Naxos 8.559647 (2011) (Cover painting: Piano Etude by Hugh Dunnahoe)]

James Price Johnson was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey Feb. 1, 1894. One of the most significant developments in his legacy in the past year has been the erection of a grave marker in his honor at his previously unmarked burial plot. It was financed by a fundraising party at a prominent nightspot in New York City. A great tribute to the composer's compositions and piano performances since his prior birthday has been the 2011 release of the Naxos American Classics disc Jazz Nocturne - American Concertos of the Jazz Age.

Naxos says in the liner notes of this CD: “Arkansas' Hot Springs Music Festival pairs world-class mentors with talented pre-professional apprentices on full scholarship; the two groups play side by side in orchestral, chamber music, solo recital, vocal, choral and opera repertoire. For two weeks, these musicians form a unique community, presenting twenty concerts and over 250 open rehearsals for music lovers from across the globe. Over 20,000 people attend Festival events each year, and recordings from its concerts are broadcast nationwide via National Public Radio.”

The distinctive repertoire performed at the Hot Spring Music Festival and recorded in the Naxos American Classics series has been of great help to AfriClassical.com. The releases of the music of Edmond Dédé (1827-1903), Charles Lucien Lambert, Sr. (1828-1896) and Lucien-Leon Guillaume Lambert, Jr. (1858-1945) have made it possible to add each of the three composers to the website.

Richard Rosenberg conducts the Hot Springs Music Festival Symphony Orchestra in James P. Johnson's Yamekraw: A Negro Rhapsody, orchestrated by William Grant Still, the opening work on the CD Jazz Nocturne: American Concertos of the Jazz Age; Naxos 8.559647 (2011). He writes in the liner notes: “This disc marks the première recording of the complete, final orchestral version of the work. As one of the first successful large-scale musical works by an African-American composer, Yamekraw thus played an important rôle in the development of American music in the twentieth century.”

The full-throated rendition of Yamekraw, in the final version orchestrated by William Grant Still, conveys the throbbing vitality of the Jazz Age. Harry Reser's Suite for Banjo and Orchestra provides a noticeable change of instrumentation. George Gershwin's A Rhapsody in Blue is the next work. The disc ends with the two works of Dana Suesse, a rarely-heard composer of the era whose presence is a reminder that the Jazz Age belonged to women composers as well as men.

Washington State University: 'Feb. 10 Faculty Artist Series, Music of William Grant Still part of Black History Month'

[William Grant Still (Photo is the sole property of William Grant Still Music, and is used with permission]

Monday, January 30, 2012
PULLMAN, Wash. - As part of Black History Month in February, the Washington State University School of Music Faculty Artist Series will present works by one of the most famous African-American composers, William Grant Still (1895-1978), at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, in Bryan Hall.

Admission is free for WSU students with ID. General admission costs $10; students (non-WSU) and seniors $5. Proceeds go to the School of Music scholarship fund. Tickets will be on sale in the lobby one hour before the concert.

Still was the first African American to conduct a major U.S. symphony orchestra, the first to have one of his symphonies performed by a major orchestra, and the first to have an opera performed on national television. His music is characterized as exciting, varied, jazzy and rhythmic. The concert will begin with Meredith Arksey, violin, and Michelle Mielke, piano, performing two movements from "Suite for Violin and Piano: Mother and Child and Gamin.” Julie Wieck, soprano, and Sheila Converse, mezzo soprano, accompanied by Mielke on piano, will sing several songs with jazz elements. 

Keri McCarthy, oboe, and Karen Savage, piano, will perform the light but lively "Incantation and Dance for Oboe and Piano.” Christopher Dickey, euphonium, will perform three song transcriptions. The concert will conclude with Still’s famous string quartet, "Danzas de Panama,” an appealing piece with beautiful melodies and contrasting, driving rhythms. Each movement depicts a different style of Panamanian folk music. This exciting work will be performed by the WSU Faculty and Friends String Quartet: Arksey, violin; Rebecca Darnall, violin; Rebecca Miller, viola; and Ruth Boden, cello.

[William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at AfriClassical.com, which features a comprehensive Works List by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, http://www.CasaMusicaledeLerma.com Recordings, sheet music and books of William Grant Still are available at www.WilliamGrantStill.com, which is operated by the composer's daughter Judith Anne Still]

Ivan Woods, Shannon Hunt & Diane Goldsmith in 'The Power of African American Music to Inspire,' Morristown, NJ Feb. 11, 7:30 PM

An Abendmusik Concert Presentation:
Follow the Drinking Gourd:
“The Power of African American Music to Inspire”
Diane Goldsmith, Pianist
Singers Ivan Woods & Shannon Hunt
Sat. February 11, 7:30 PM

Abendmusik, the concert series sponsored by Music At Morristown United Methodist Church, continues its 2011-2012 themed season (“Celebrating American Music”) with a concert on Saturday, February 11, 2012 at 7:30 pm featuring the Follow the Drinking Gourd (Diane Goldsmith, Pianist with Singers Ivan Woods and Shannon Hunt) in a program entitled “The Power of African American Music to Inspire”. There is a suggested donation of $15.00 for adults and $12.00 for senior citizens. Advance tickets are available ($12 adults/$10 seniors) by telephoning the church office 973-538-2132. Students with ID are admitted Free. The concert will be presented at Morristown United Methodist Church, 50 Park Place (on the Green), Morristown, NJ. Our facilities are handicapped accessible. There will be a refreshments available during the event. Please visit our website for more information: www.morristownumc.com.

Time-honored African American musical forms and traditions continue to stir the creativity of composers and arrangers. In this intriguing program for voices and piano, the musical group Follow the Drinking Gourd will sample the abundance that’s grown from these amazing roots. (www.followthedrinkinggourd.net) They’ll perform spirituals in all kinds of inventive arrangements, from jazz and tango settings to adaptation as anthems of the civil rights marches of the 1960s. Then, the group will show how the blues inspired composers like Harold Arlen (“The Wizard of Oz”) and George Gershwin to write in this style.

Monday, January 30, 2012

“Mark Rucker, baritone, sings 'Die frist ist um' in Opera Liège's (Belgium) production of Richard Wagner's Der Fliegende Holländer”

[Mark Rucker]

Barbara Wright-Pryor brings this news to our attention:
MarkRucker, baritone, sings "Die frist ist um" in Opera Liège's (Belgium) production of Richard Wagner's Der Fliegende Holländer with Maestro Paolo Arrivabeni, conducting with stage directing by Petrika Ionesco, 2011. Mr. Rucker is a former Chicagoan and graduate of Chicago's Kenwood Academy High School and Drake University (Iowa).

Mr. Rucker made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2004 as Amonasro (Verdi's "Aida"). Appeared the next season as Carlo in the Met's production of Verdi's "La Forza del Destino."

For more information on Mark Rucker, baritone, go to http://www.markrucker.com/Biography.htm
Thank you for all that you do in keeping us all informed through AfriClassical.
Musically yours,

Barbara Wright-Pryor 
Chicago Music Association, 
Branch No. 1, NANM Inc. (since 1919)

Dr. Sandra Noriega Conducts Oakland Public Conservatory of Music in 'Danse Nègre' of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor on YouTube

[Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912)]

A lively performance of Danse Nègre (8:40) by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor has been performed by the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music under the direction of Dr. Sandra Noriega, Conductor. It was uploaded January 29, 2012:

Danse Nègre performed by the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music conducted by Dr. Sandra Noriega."

[Samuel Coleridge-Taylor(1875-1912) is featured at AfriClassical.com. Major observances of the Centennial of his death are underway and are the work of organizations including the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Foundation, http://www.sctf.org.uk, which has just been entrusted with an extensive Bibliography compiled by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, http://www.CasaMusicaledeLerma.com and made available at the website of the Foundation.]

YouTube.com: “Joshua plays 'Lenox Ave. Blues' by William Grant Still @ Unity Of Oak Park Concert 1/29/12”

[Africa: Piano Music of William Grant Still; Denver Oldham, piano; Koch 3 7084 2H1 (1991)]

A January 29, 2012 concert performance of William Grant Still's Lenox Ave. Blues (2:39) by Joshua was uploaded today:

“Uploaded by junmhoon on Jan 30, 2012 
Joshua plays 'Lenox Ave. Blues' by William Grant Still @ Unity Of Oak Park Concert 1/29/12”:

WilliamGrant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at AfriClassical.com, which features a comprehensive Works List by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, http://www.CasaMusicaledeLerma.com. Recordings, sheet music and books of William Grant Still are available at www.WilliamGrantStill.com, which is operated by the composer's daughter Judith Anne Still. Here is the entry for Lenox Ave. Blues:

Lenox Ave. Blues, Lenox Avenue; Choreographic street scenes, dancers, narrator, SATB & orchestra (1937). New York: J. Fischer & Bro., 1938. piano-vocal score, 41p. Scenario: Verna Arvey. Instrumentation: 2231, Eh bcl 5 saxophones, 3320, timp, 2 perc, piano, strings. Commission: Columbia Broadcasting System. Première: 1937;V/23; CBS Radio; Howard Barlow, conductor. Duration: 23:00. Library: Library of Congress (43-21830), Schomburg.”

Dominique-René de Lerma: 'Kishna Davis, supernova' Returns to Morgan in 'Porgy and Bess'

[Kishna Davis]

Dominique-René de Lerma sends this news on “Kishna Davis, supernova”:
I was wrong when I told Kishna Davis that she was sitting on a million-dollar voice. She had just auditioned as an entering freshman at Morgan State, singing an aria sopranos might normally not attempt until midcareer (and might not even know about as an undergraduate). She thanked me for what she thought was a compliment, but I told her it was not; this was her cross. My mistake was an undervaluation of the gift. Some years later I heard from instumentalists (too rarely attentive to singers) who had heard her at Aspen. I knew that hard work and dedicated resolve had lessened the burden. The groundwork, based on the foundation Betty Ridgeway had laid at Morgan, provided support for the advanced study undertaken at Juilliard and the Manhattan School, and Kishna was now testing her wings at Aspen and San Francisco. She proved herself soon after when I was able to bring her to Lawrence University for the Beethoven ninth, but full flowering was imminent. She had been coaching privately with Leontyne Price, la diva di tutte le dive, and was soaring in a career that hit all the major stops in the U.S., with a rich sampling of European high lights.

And now she has been booked to come back to her Morgan roots -- ritorna vicitor! -- where she will join a former classmate -- Kevin Short -- also from the exceptionally productive Ridgeway studio, to be Bess. The four performances will be held at the end of March and start of April at the superb Gilliam Concert Hall on Morgan's campus (box office: 443-885-4440). Additional bookings may be arranged though the John Such Management, 780 Riverside Drive, Suite 7D, New York 10031 (212-926-4833).

The following repertoire list will suggest the range of this brilliant career:
Bach, Johann Sebastian. Johannespassion.
Bach, Johann Sebastian. Magnificat.
Bach, Johann Sebastian. Mass, B minor.
Bach, Johann Sebastian. Mattäuspassion.
Barber, Samuel. Andromache's farewell.
Barber, Samuel. Knoxville, summer of 1915.
Beethoven, Ludwig van. Missa solemnis.
Beethoven, Ludwig van. Symphony, no. 9.
Bernstein, Leonard. Mass.
Bizet, Georges. Carmen (Micaela).
Brahms, Johannes. Deutsches Requiem.
Bruckner, Anton. Mass in F.
Chaikovskiĭi, Pytor. Eugene Onegin (Tatiana).
Chapentier, Gustave. Louise (Louise).
Donizetti, Gaetano. Don Pasquale (Norina).
Dunner, Leslie. Songs of a motherless child.
Dvořák, Antonín. Rusalka (Rusalka).
Floyd, Carlisle. Suzanna (Susanna).
Gershwin, George. Porgy and Bess (Bess).
Handel, George Frideric. Messiah.
Handel, George Frideric. Orlando (Medoro).
Heggie, Jake. Dead man walking (Sister Rose).
Leoncavallo, Ruggero. I pagliacci (Nedda).
Mahler, Gustav. Symphony, no. 4.
Mahler, Gustav. Symphony, no. 8.
Massenet, Jules. Herodiade (Salomé).
Massenet, Jules. Le Cid (Chimène).
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. Die Zauberflöte (Pamina).
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. Don Giovanni (Donna Elvira).
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. Idomeneo (Elettra).
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. Le nozze di Figaro (Countess).
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. Requiem.
Murray, Diedre. The running man.
Óffenbach, Jacques. Les contes d'Hoffmann (Antonia).
Poulenc, Francis. Gloria.
Previn, André. Honey and rue.
Puccini, Giacomo. La bohème (Mimì, and Musetta).
Puccini, Giacomo. La rondine (Magda).
Puccini, Giacomo. Madama Butterfly (Cio-Cio San).
Puccini, Giacomo. Suor Angelica (Suor Angelica).
Puccini, Giacomo. Tosca (Tosca).
Puccini, Giacomo. Turandot (Liù).
Rossini, Giacomo. Stabat mater.
Strauß, Johann, Jr. Die Fledermaus (Rosalinde).
Strauß, Richard. Vier letzte Gesänge.
Vaughan Williams, Ralph. Serenade to music.
Verdi, Giuseppe. Aida (Aida).
Verdi, Giuseppe. Ernani (Elvira).
Verdi, Giuseppe. Falstaff (Alice Ford).
Verdi, Giuseppe. Il trovatore (Leonora).
Verdi, Giuseppe. La forza del destino (Leonora).
Verdi, Giuseppe. Otello (Desdemona).
Verdi, Giuseppe. Requiem.
Verdi, Giuseppe. Simon Boccanegra.  (Amerlia).
Verdi, Giuseppe. Un ballo in maschera (Emilia).
Weill, Kurt. Street scene.

Dominique-René de Lerma

OvergrownPath.com: “June Boyce-Tillman's 'The Myth of the Titanic' 'uses a song from the Black community in the US to protest...racial subjugation.'”

[JUNE BOYCE-TILLMAN, Professor of Applied Music at King Alfred's College, Winchester read Music at St Hugh's College, Oxford. She pioneered work in introducing composing activities into the classroom and completed a PhD at the Institute of Education entitled Towards a model of the musical development of children. (http://www.impulse-music.co.uk/boycet.htm)]

Bob Shingleton of www.OvergrownPath.com writes on his blog (Excerpt):
"With maritime tragedies in the news June Boyce-Tillman has a topical performance: her new work for choir and orchestra The Myth of the Titanic retells the story of the sinking of the Titanic as a myth about human hubris and arrogance - classical music cannot be more relevant than that. The Myth of the Titanic, which in an echo of Tippett's A Child of Our Time uses a song from the black community in the US to protest against colonialism and racial subjugation, is confirmation that engagement is alive and well if you look beyond the Mahler symphonies.  Isabelle Eberhardt, who campaigned against colonialism and was a frequent maritime traveller, had drawn me to Marseille and Missy Mazzoli's refreshingly engaged opera Song from the Uproar: the Lives and Deaths of Isabelle Eberhardt premieres at TheKitchen, NYC on Feb. 24. Funds are being raised for a recording of the opera on Kickstarter, which was how Ochion Jewell funded the CD of his First Suite for Jazz Quintet - is a new anti-business model emerging for music recording? Alas no recording of June Boyce-Tillman's mystical musical celebration of Julian of Norwich, but read about it in Meetings with remarkable women."

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dr. Eric Conway: “'Ain't Misbehavin' at Spotlighters Theatre”

Dr. Eric Conway of Morgan State University writes:

Hello everyone,
Last evening I had the great pleasure of attending a performance of Ain't Misbehavin at the Spotlighters Theatre at 817 St. Paul Street in Baltimore. I attended the production because Theatre Coordinator Shirley Basfield Dunlap was the director and Morgan Music majors Annie Bragg, Dana McCants, and Tylar Montgomery were cast members. Additionally, the musical director was Stephen Felton, also a Music major. The musical featured the music of "Fats" Waller. The theatre was very intimate and in the round. I enjoyed every aspect of the performance. Shirley's direction was exquisite, despite the limitations of the space and despite the fact that there are certain challenges directing a show in the round, but everyone, despite the vantage point, got a unique and fine vantage of every scene. The 3 female cast members are all members of the Morgan State University choir, and generally speaking are all relatively quiet in day-to-day lives, however, on the big stage, they all were transcended to huge stage stars who all sang, danced, and acted very well. This is a musical in every since of the word, with songs from start to finish. Stephen Felton, did a fine job keeping the show musically tight and under control. In short, if you get the chance to see this production, please go and see it, you will thank me for the recommendation. See cover of program attached, link to a review and website of theatre. There are only two weekends left in the run - Saturday, and Sunday evenings at 8PM and Sundays at 2PM. Again congratulations to the cast and crew of Ain't Misbehavin'.

Check out the first review for Ain't Misbehavin' ---

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 'Celebrating the life of Sierra Leone’s ingenious classical music composer – Samuel Coleridge-Taylor'

[“Samuel Coleridge-Taylor at 23”]

The Afro-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor is featured at AfriClassical.com  An extensive Bibliography of his works has been compiled by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, http://www.CasaMusicaledeLerma.com and entrusted to the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Foundation website, www.sctf.org.uk

29 January 2012
Ten years ago, I discovered the music of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, whilst driving on the M1 Motorway to London from Leeds, on a very quiet and wintry Sunday morning. It was not until the end of a beautiful Adagio – which I wished had never ended, when the Classical FM Radio presenter announced that the piece was by no other than Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. How proud I felt, when the presenter added that the composer’s father had hailed from Freetown – Sierra Leone.

Since then I have become a great fan of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s music, rivalling the likes of Mahler, Mozart, Brahms, Elgar and Dvorak. This year marks the centenary of the death of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875 – 2012) whose father, Daniel Hughes Taylor, a medical doctor, was a Sierra Leonean. His centenary is being marked by a yearlong festival in Croydon and elsewhere, in which it is hoped that most if not all of his works, will be performed as well as talks given about his life and work.

It is hoped that through the year long festival planned, Sierra Leoneans in the UK and abroad will become more aware of Coleridge-Taylor’s prodigy, which should make him and his music stand along the great composers of our time.” “Meanwhile, it would be good to see Sierra Leoneans in large numbers at some – if not all of the year long events planned, in particular – the world premiere of his operatic work ‘THELMA’ on the 9th, 10th and 11th February 2012.”

Tuesday 31st January, 1pm – Lunchtime Concert by students from the Croydon Centre for Young Pianists at the Fairfield Halls, Park Lane, CR9 IDG, Croydon, featuring piano music by SC-T and original compositions inspired by SC-T (Presented by Croydon Music and Arts). Tickets: from 0208 688 9291 or www.fairfieldhalls.co.uk

“A Real 'Red Tail' for The National WWII Museum: Institution Restores Famed Plane, a Type Flown by Tuskegee Airmen”

[ABOVE: Exhibit, The National WWII Museum BELOW: “Red Tails” (Photo: TheWrap.com)]

Museum offers special programming for Black History Month

NEW ORLEANS (January 23, 2012) – With George Lucas’ Red Tails soaring at the box office, The National WWII Museum announces its acquisition and restoration of a P-51 Mustang, the aircraft depicted in Hollywood’s drama about the courageous fighter pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen.

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American aviators in the United States military. They comprised the United States Army Air Forces 99th Fighter Squadron and 332nd Fighter Group and were trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama. 

The Museum’s P-51 D, an aircraft replete with authentic “Red Tail” markings, will hang in the new US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center. The 96 ft. tall structure, built to house the institution’s spectacular collection of macro artifacts, opens on the Museum’s New Orleans campus November 11, Veterans Day, this year. 

“The P-51 with ‘Red Tail’ markings should be a symbol of pride for all Americans,” said Wendell Pierce, actor and spokesperson for the Museum’s initiative to restore the plane. “But it is of special importance to black Americans as it embodies the patriotism of these pilots, who did, indeed, prove that courage has no color. I am proud to help in the Museum’s efforts to honor all African-Americans who fought for their country during WWII.” 

Pierce’s father, Amos Pierce, was drafted into the US Army in 1943 and was assigned to the famous 24th Infantry Division – the African American “Buffalo Soldiers” attached to the US Marines that took Saipan from the Japanese in 1944.

With Black History Month approaching, the Museum is making a special effort to remind Americans of African-Americans’ contributions in WWII with a series of programs. These include an opportunity for children to build their own P-51 model plane as well as a lunchtime lecture about African-American veterans and their struggle for civil rights. Other highlights include:

    · A display depicting the exploits of the Tuskegee Airmen as well as those of drivers for the “Red Ball Express,” which at its peak delivered over 12,000 tons of vital supplies per day to Allied forces rapidly advancing across France. The display opens January 20 and will be exhibited throughout the month of February.
    · A free Electronic Field Trip for grades 7-12 called Fighting for a Double Victory: African Americans in WWII. Students will meet Pearl Harbor hero Dorie Miller, the Montford Point Marines, and the Tuskegee Airmen, learning of the struggle for racial equality in war factories and in the barracks and tracing the historic path from segregation to integration in the military and beyond.

For more information on the Museum’s Black History Month programming as well as lesson plans for educators visit www.nationalww2museum.org.

Though restricted by segregationist practices and US military policies throughout WWII, black servicemen and women performed vital efforts during the conflict. Their successes helped to spur integration of the Armed Forces in 1948. Still, widespread recognition of the contributions of African Americans did not come quickly. Pierce’s father Amos, for example, did not receive his medals for combat bravery until 2009, after assistance from the Museum.

“African-Americans’ experience in World War II was a fight for two victories,” explains Museum President and CEO Dr. Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller. “The first was to defeat the Axis. The second was for equal rights. The Museum feels it must always convey the story of this double victory so that young generations know and understand the challenges these Americans faced. Our P-51 will serve as a touchstone for that effort.”

The family of Museum board member Todd Ricketts, co-owner of the Chicago Cubs, has committed to donate $500,000 to fund the P-51’s restoration, which is expected to be finished in early 2013. The Museum needs to raise another ½ million dollars to complete the project.

“The P-51 is the iconic aircraft of World War II and the Museum would not be complete without one,” Ricketts said. “But beyond that, it is also important to recognize and honor the Tuskegee Airmen who furthered the American war effort, and civil rights for all Americans, by doing what they saw as their patriotic duty.”

“We can’t thank Mr. Ricketts and his family enough for their generosity,” Mueller says. “Because of this gift, museum-goers will be able to enter the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center and see a real P-51, not one generated by computer graphics. It’s history made real.”

The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world – why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice of the men and women who served on the battlefront and the Home Front. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-527-6012 or visit www.nationalww2museum.org

NYTimes.com: 'Songs, Some Coded, of Liberation,' Works by Nkeiru Okoye & Julius P. Williams

[Nkeiru Okoye (Phil Marino for The New York Times)]
Nkeiru Okoye and Roy Eaton are featured frequently on AfriClassical.  Julius P. Williams is profiled at AfriClassical.com:

Arts | Long Island
Published: January 27, 2012
WHEN Nkeiru Okoye, a composer who lives in Massapequa, decided to move beyond the mostly orchestral works she had written, she set out to create some vocal music. Envisioning an oratorio, Ms. Okoye (pronounced oh-KOY-yeh), who is of African-American and Nigerian descent, felt that 'a black woman would be a natural subject.' 

“Living in Baltimore at the time, around eight years ago, she focused on Harriet Tubman, the runaway slave born on Maryland’s Eastern Shore who repeatedly led other slaves north to freedom through the secret network of safe houses and routes of the Underground Railroad.” “As the oratorio grew into the makings of a full-fledged opera, she also produced a cycle of four songs — arias from the opera — that could be sung independently.

Those 'Songs of Harriet Tubman,' which were completed in 2007, will be a centerpiece of 'A Ride on the Underground Railroad,' to be performed on Feb. 5 at Hofstra University in celebration of Black History Month. The concert, which includes both premieres and familiar music on the themes of freedom and courage, will take place at 3 p.m. at the John Cranford Adams Playhouse. Ms. Okoye, 39, an adjunct assistant professor of music at Hofstra, is hosting the event and will provide some narration. “I’m going to take you through a ride on the Underground Railroad,” she said. “A lot of people think it was an actual train.”

Parts of the concert will explore “coded spirituals,” whose lyrics were embedded with hidden messages alerting slaves to coming escapes or routes to freedom.” Coded messages are also the basis for Julius P. Williamss 'Fantasy for Violin and Chamber Orchestra,' composed for the concert. The work is based on the spiritual 'The Gospel Train,' whose lyrics relay that 'the Gospel train’s a’comin’, I hear it just at hand ... .' To slaves, the message was 'be prepared — people from the Underground Railroad are coming here,' Mr. Williams, a professor of composition at Berklee College of Music in Boston, said in a telephone interview. Plantation owners, meanwhile, 'would think, oh, they’re just singing about the gospel train going to heaven,' he said.

Performers at the concert will include the Hofstra Chamber Choir, with students from the Hempstead High School Select Chorale; members of the Hofstra Symphony Orchestra; the tenor Robert Anthony Mack, singing music by Wendell Logan, a composer of jazz and concert music; the pianist Roy Eaton, playing a Scott Joplin rag; and the contralto Nicole Mitchell, in an arrangement (by Samuel Nathan, a Hofstra music student) of 'Go Down, Moses.' That spiritual will pave the way for 'Songs of Harriet Tubman,' performed by the soprano Diana Solomon-Glover.” 

Jade Media: 'Box-Breaking Concert Pianist Jade Simmons to Reveal Love Affair with Rhythm at Georgia Tech Concert'

[Revolutionary Rhythm; Jade Simmons, pianist; KIC CD 7760 (2009)]

An artist that believes audiences should nod their heads and tap their toes at Classical music concerts, too!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE--On Saturday, Feb 18th, 2012 at 8pm, acclaimed pianist Jade Simmons will take to the Ferst Center stage at the Georgia Institute of Technology in a fury of rhythmic energy performing pieces for solo piano, with her trio Collide, (piano, percussion and saxophone) and alongside Georgia Tech's infamous improvising robot Shimon. Simmons, one of the most innovative and versatile concert artists on the scene today, is noted for riveting performances and creative projects. She ended 2011 with a performance at the White House and 2012 will include the release of #PaganiniProject, the follow up to her first critically acclaimed, genre-bending CD, Revolutionary Rhythm. The upcoming CD dares to feature standard Classical works alongside Contemporary Classical pieces with elements of Jazz and original works for piano and electronic beats in a mash-up style Jade calls Hybrid Hip-Hop.

This concert will serve as the culmination of her time at the university as their second-ever ARTech artist-in-residence. Under the rubric of Rhythm as Necessity, the former drum major, bass drum line captain and co-founder of Northwestern University's Boomshaka (a popular percussion and dance ensemble), Jade will feature highly rhythmic Contemporary Classical pieces almost entirely by living composers and will tell the story of her relationship with rhythm throughout the concert. The first part of Ms. Simmons' residency took place in October of 2011 and included outreach programs at local schools, multiple lectures, including one called The Implications of Race and Gender in Classical Performance, and a masterclass for student pianists at the university.

Jade's residency is an interactive one. Members of the Georgia Tech community were able to submit sound samples via the Music Technology department's innovative software program Urban Remix. The software allows users to capture sounds and images around them and upload them to be shared and remixed by other users. Jade will take the submissions and create an original piece to be performed in the culminating concert.

During this second residency period, Feb. 12-18, there will also be a panel discussion called The Creative Impulse, more outreach performances, and a masterclass with members of Jade's trio Collide. For ticket information and a full outline of activities, visit:
To learn more about Jade, visit: www.jademedia.org

SILive.com: 'Anthony Turner lends his baritone to the Music at St. Albans series' Harlem homage'

[Anthony Turner]

STATEN ISLAND, NY — Anthony Turner, the Island-based baritone, will perform 'Poets of the Harlem Renaissance,' a self-made recital program, next Sunday in the Music at St. Alban’s series. He has sung these songs previously but is better known locally for other material. Turner is versatile — his teachers at Simpson and the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music insisted upon it — and he sings classical repertory across many borders ( Italian, German, French and English, plus classical Spanish if there’s a call for it). 

“He has performed contemporary material, including 'Songs and Stories From Moby Dick' (1999) with composer/performer Laurie Anderson. Next week’s program is all-uptown: Musical settings of poems written by the leading lights of the Harlem Renaissance, a multi-genre eruption of new music, prose, poetry, dance and drama produced by black artists in northern Manhattan from 1919 to the mid-1930s. 

“Langston Hughes (1902-1967) became the era’s pre-eminent poet. Among the others were: Arna Bontemps (1902-1973), Phillipe Thoby-Marcelin (1904-1975), Paul Lawrence Dunbar (1872-1906) and County Cullen (1903-1946). The composers include Margaret Bonds (1913-1972), William Grant Still (1895-1978), Florence Price (1887-1953), Claude McKay (1889-1949) and Cecil Cohen (1894-1967). Turner will also sing settings by two contemporary composers, Charles S. Brown (b. 1940) and Robert Owens (b. 1925) by way of suggesting that the “impetus of the Harlem Renaissance is still powerful.” 

Baritone Anthony Turner accompanied by pianist Kenneth Hamrick 
St. Albans Episcopal Church at 76 St. Alban’s Pl., Eltingville . 
3:30 p.m. Feb. 5 
How much 
Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for senior citizens and students. 
More information 
Call 718-984-7756 or visit MusicatSaintAlbans.org 
[Margaret Bonds (1913-1972), William Grant Still (1895-1978) and Florence Price (1887-1953) are profiled at AfriClassical.com, which features a comprehensive Works List for each by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, http://www.CasaMusicaledeLerma.com]

Saturday, January 28, 2012

John Malveaux: 'I attended homegoing celebration service for Etta James at City of Refuge Church.'

[Etta James]

John Malveaux of www.MusicUNTOLD.com sends this:
Today, January 28, 2012, I attended homegoing celebration service for Etta James at City of Refuge Church. I co-promoted a 1968 concert in Long Beach that included Etta. Reverend Al Sharpton delivered the eulogy after reading a letter of condolence from President Obama and the First Lady. Etta’s band ROOTS with two of her sons contributed music along with Stevie Wonder (multiple songs) and Christina Aguilera singing AT LAST http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywfEEcwsmrY&feature=related. Etta James never knew her father.

John Malveaux: Antonio Rizzo, Violin Maker, Partners With Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles

[Gustavo Dudamel and Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles]

John Malveaux of www.MusicUNTOLD.com sends this fascinating news:
On January 26th, I was a dinner guest at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Antonio Rizzo in Torrance, Ca. Antonio is a violin, viola, and cello maker http://www.arviolins.com/index.htm. He annually receives instruction and consultation in Italy from descendants of a legendary Italian violin maker. Antonio is around 86 years of age and wishes to share his knowledge and skills with future generations. One of his projects is a partnership with Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles http://www.laphil.com/education/yola.cfm. In addition to volunteering his personal services to repair violins, violas, and cellos, Antonio developed a curriculum with instruction book to help others teach interested youth to repair violins. Apart from this effort, Antonio shared with me that a young African American student contacted him and indicated he wanted to learn the craft/skill of violin making. Antonio invited the young man to his studio and started him with lesson plans and looks forward to his development.

Roland Carter Conducts Austin's '6th Annual Black History Concert Celebrating Black Composers,' 7:30 PM, Feb. 3

For those of you who do not know me, my name is Nicole Taylor. I am a graduate of The University of Texas Butler School of Music Butler Opera Program. I earned my Master of Music (MM) and Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) in May 2011. While I was there, I started a concert series that celebrates the accomplishments of Black American classical and jazz composers.

“As student researching information for a paper in class, I discovered a wealth of music that I had never heard before.” “By holding this concert every year during Black History Month, we hope to increase the awareness of classical music, jazz, American classical music, as well as Black composers in not just the Black community, but in this country in general.

"This is a free concert that is presented during Black History Month presented by The University of Texas Butler School of Music and Huston Tillotson University Music Department. This is the 6th Annual Black History Concert Celebrating Black Composers. We are bringing in Roland Carter who is a  composer/arranger known particularly for his arrangements of Negro Spirituals. You can read more about him here: http://rolandcarter.com/

This year, the choir that will be singing his works will be a large combined choir including the UT Concert Chorale, the HT Concert Choir, and the Prairie View A&M Concert Choir. Individual students will also perform various works by Black Composers. This will be a wonderful evening. Please plan to attend or listen online if you are not able to attend. Please feel free to forward this info to anyone who may be interested. Attached is a PDF file of the poster for this concert.

Event: Black History Month Concert
Date: Friday, February 03, 2012
Time: 7:30 PM
Location: Bates Recital Hall (The hall is located inside of the Butler School of Music Building 
2350 Robert Dedman Dr
Austin, TX
Webcast: Broadcast will begin a few minutes before the performance.
· All Audio Webcasts are broadcast in Quicktime
· Quicktime Format: MPEG4-generic/44100/2 16-bit Stereo at 128 kb/sec
Phone: Music Hotline (512) 471-5401
Fees: Free Admission
Nicole L. Taylor, DMA
Founder and Creator of the Black Composer Concert Series

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Howard University's Dept. of Music Centennial: Music Faculty in Masterworks of the 19th Century

[From TOP: Raymond T. Jackson, Kehembe V. Eichelberger, Fred Irby, III]

The Centennial Celebration marks a milestone for the Department and a new beginning. To achieve our goals of increased scholarships and professional training for our students, service to the community, and improved facilities requires the generous and continued support of our alumni and friends.

Join us as we begin a major 3-year Celebration and fund raising campaign Beginning With
By Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt, Brahms, Saint-Saëns, and
African American Composer, Frederick Eliot Lewis


SCTF.org: 'Dominique-Rene de Lerma donates Coleridge-Taylor bibliography to SCTF website'

[Photo: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Foundation]

We welcome this news of our friends at www.SCTF.org.uk, and we look forward to linking the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor page at AfriClassical.com to the new Bibliography:

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Foundation
Hilary Burrage January 26, 2012
"In a hugely significant step towards realising our intention to bring Coleridge-Taylor’s life and works to public attention as he deserves, the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Foundation is delighted to announce that the distinguished American researcher and scholar Dr. Dominique-Rene de Lerma has generously entrusted us with publication on our website of his extensive bibliography and general reference point for documents and other material relating to Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

"You will find Dr. de Lerma’s entire list on this website, under the menu entitled Bibliography. A brief biography of Dominique-Rene de Lerma is attached below.  Whilst of course Dr. de Lerma retains copyright of his list, he has also indicated that he will welcome additions (and / or corrections) to enhance it, as our knowledge and experience of Coleridge-Taylor develops.

"The SCT Foundation is enormously grateful to Dominique-Rene de Lerma for his generosity and we look forward to working with him and the whole ‘SCT community’ to take this work forward."

Biographical note (from the Columbia Center for Black Music Research,  Chicago)
"Dominique-René de Lerma (1928– ) is a prominent, pioneering scholar in black music research. After a career as a performing oboist, de Lerma received a PhD in musicology from Indiana University in 1958. Subsequently he taught at Indiana University (1963–1976), at Morgan State University (1976–1990), and at Peabody Conservatory (1983–1990). He served as Director of the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago from 1990 to 1993. Currently, he teaches at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. De Lerma is the author of several books, including the four-volume Bibliography of Black Music (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1981)."

Boston Symphony Orchestra: Harlem String Quartet at Tanglewood 8 PM Sunday, August 26, 2012

[Harlem String Quartet]

Boston Symphony Orchestra
Aug 26
Sunday, 8:00 PM
Chick Corea and Gary Burton Hot House Tour

with the

 Harlem String Quartet


Ozawa Hall Lenox MA

$19.00 - $63.00

[The Harlem Quartet is an ensemble of the Sphinx Organization, which was founded in 1996 by violinist Aaron P. Dworkin, http://www.AaronDworkin.com, who is profiled at AfriClassical.com]