Monday, January 16, 2012

Byron Hanson: National Music Camp Performed Scherzo of Still's Afro-American Symphony in 1937 & 1944

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

Byron Hanson, Archivist at Interlochen Center for the Arts, has brought some very interesting information to our attention in past communications. Today he writes:

Dear Bill,
You and Dr. De Lerma may find it of interest that Guy Fraser Harrison and our founder, Joseph Maddy, both conducted performances at National Music Camp of  the Scherzo movement of Still's Afro-American Symphony fairly early in the work's history - in 1937 and 1944 respectively. The performances were by the National High School Orchestra. I don't know who conducted the symphony's 1931 premiere in Rochester - It could have been Eugene Goossens, Harrison or Howard Hanson, all of whom were in Rochester at that time. Hanson and Harrison were both deeply involved here throughout the 30s and early 40s. 

“Please contact me if more information would be useful.
Thank you,
Byron Hanson, Archivist
Interlochen Center for the Arts

It is our understanding that William Grant Still's Afro-American Symphony was premiered by Howard Hanson, as we write in Section 19 of the William Grant Still page at
“The first performances of the Afro-American Symphony were given by the Rochester Philharmonic, with Howard Hanson conducting, on Oct. 28 and 29, 1931.”

We also quote the liner notes of the Chandos recording of the Detroit Symphony's performance:
“Howard Hanson [1896-1981], who conducted the premiere with the Rochester Philharmonic in 1931, was a noted exponent of contemporary American music.”

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