Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Boston Musical Intelligencer: 'In Front of My Eyes: Celebrating T. J. Anderson'

[John McDonald, T. J. Anderson and Mark DeVoto in 2003 (BMInt staff photo)]

Thomas Jefferson Anderson, Jr.,, is an African American Composer born August 17, 1928 and far better known as T.J. Anderson.  Aja Burrell Wood forwards this article:

March 14, 2012
By Mark DeVoto
“T. J. Anderson was for years a beloved professor at Tufts University, where he brought the Music Department into the modern era. Now 83 and retired from Tufts since 1990, he returned to Medford for a symposium, a reception, and a concert for himself and his friends. His successor on the Tufts composition faculty, John McDonald, led off an assembly of T. J.’s music and that of his friends in Distler Performance Hall at the Granoff Music Center at Tufts on Monday evening. T. J.’s Boogie-Woogie Fantasy, composed in 1997, is a sectional piano solo with explosive gestures alternating with classical boogie-woogie patterns — dotted rhythms, arpeggiated bass octaves in eight-bar segments. This was a long piece, but one that connects its episodes well, and McDonald played it with great skill and expression. After T. J. retired from Tufts he moved to Chapel Hill in North Carolina, soon becoming connected with nearby Duke University in Durham.”

T. J. himself was honored with the premiere performance of his Cornerstones, composed last year on five poems by the Vermont poet Elye Alexander. These ranged over a variety of moods, with the first poem/song, 'Cedar,' repeating a two-bar melodic figure; the second, 'Spider-Silk Riddle,' a three-note motive; the third, 'The Flying Squirrel' with chattering repeated notes and a piano cadenza in between; and the last poem/song, 'Dancing With Her,' with a slow and sad waltz. Even more ineffably sad were the simple chords accompanying the fourth and shortest poem, “Dovey Junction.” Louise Toppin sang, and John McDonald accompanied, with rich expression and loving care. (For those who are traveling south next week, Toppin will host a 20th-anniversary festival in Chapel Hill, honoring two decades of VIDEMUS, a new-music group founded at Tufts by Vivian Taylor and loyally supported by T. J.)” 

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