Sunday, May 20, 2012

Maine Sunday Telegram: Violinist Lydia Forbes and Longfellow Chorus Orchestra in Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's 'Violin Concerto in D' and 'Keep Me from Sinking Down' June 2, U. of New England

[Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (Maine Today Photo)]

Maine Sunday Telegram
Sunday, May 20, 201
CLASSICAL BEAT: First summer festivals will feature notable composers
Two musical events of special interest will begin Maine's summer festival season.
The first will be a special preview of a work by British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Reconstructed by Longfellow Chorus artistic director Charles Kaufmann, it will be premiered June 2 at Ludke Auditorium of the University of New England.

The in-the-round performance of the forgotten work, a piece for violin and piano based on the spiritual "Keep Me from Sinking Down," will be by the Longfellow Chorus Orchestra and Lydia Forbes, violinist of the DaPonte String Quartet.

The event will be a rehearsal for a private filmed performance on June 4 in Norfolk, Conn., where the premiere was given in 1912 by American violinist Maud Powell. The filming is part of the Longfellow Chorus Coleridge-Taylor Documentary Project. Tickets are $10. For details, visit

Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) was a renowned and prolific composer whose successful career was launched by his immensely popular cantata "Hiawatha's Wedding Feast," a setting of the famous poem by Maine's own Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Named (most confusingly) for British poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, he also set many of Longfellow's other poems and translations to music, including "The Quadroon Girl," which describes a plantation owner selling his own mixed-race daughter into slavery. Not a subject that comes to mind immediately when thinking of Longfellow.

Coleridge-Taylor made three successful tours of the United States, during which he became known as "the black Mahler."  He was no shrinking violet. Of his "24 Negro Melodies" for piano, he said: "What Brahms has done for the Hungarian folk music, Dvorak for the Bohemian and Grieg for the Norwegian, I have tried to do for these Negro melodies."

[Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) is profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works List and a Bibliography by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, Major observances of the Centennial of Coleridge-Taylor's death on Sept. 1, 1912 are underway and are the work of organizations including the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Foundation,]

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