Friday, August 10, 2012

Charles Kaufmann: 'Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and his music in America, 1900–1912, Update #8'

[Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912)]

Charles Kaufmann, Artistic Director of The Longfellow Chorus of Portland, Maine, gives his eighth update on the campaign to raise at least $15,000 on by August 22, 2012.  To date, 19 backers have pledged a total of $642, with 12 days remaining in the drive:

Did you know that Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall attended the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School in Baltimore as a child? Such was the hugely inspiring influence in America of British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor one hundred years ago. They even named public schools after him.

We've completed the Washington, DC, segment of our film, "Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and His Music in America." I could list all the outstanding scenes, but I don't want to give anything away until our film's premiere in March 2013:
  • The eloquence of Reverend Ronald E. Braxton, depicting the history of the Metropolitan AME Church and its relation to Coleridge-Taylor and African-American music.
  • The solo performance by Angela Brown, Rodrick Dixon, Karla Scott and Robert Honeysucker, turning Coleridge-Taylor's setting of Longfellow's Poem on Slavery, "She Dwells by Great Kenhawa's Side," into a kind of Beethoven's Ninth.
  • Rodrick Dixon's performance of Coleridge-Taylor's student setting of the Longfellow poem, "The Arrow and the Song," and my comment that Rod can turn any student work into a masterpiece.
  • Angela Brown's rather impudent imitation of Snow White singing Coleridge-Taylor's soprano aria "Spring Had Come."
  • Our interview with Thelma, an 80-year-old Metropolitan Church member, who remembers her grandfather's stories about witnessing Coleridge-Taylor in Metropolitan in 1904.
  • The fabulous performances of various Coleridge-Taylor choral works by our Washington-based chorus, directed by the very talented young music director of Metropolitan, Lester Green, DMA.
  • The "command performance" for our cameras by the Marine Band of John Phillip Sousa's "Free Lance" March, (also called On to Victory), and the audacity of our cinematographer, Richard Kane, in asking Marine Band Director Col. Michael Colburn to please repeat the piccolo section solo for our camera (which he did). Free Lance was a Sousa comic opera, 1905-1906, in which an army of "beautiful Amazons" and an army of "handsome young giants" face each other in a battle that concludes when "everyone falls into couples," to quote the April 16, 1906, New York Times review. Another article directly under the Times review of Free Lance reports a sold out performance of The Clansman, by Thomas Dixon, and this highlights the underlying atmosphere of racism of the period that the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Choral Society of Washington and its star British composer were peacefully confronting.
  • After Samuel Coleridge-Taylor conducted the Orchestra of the Marine Band in November 1904, says Marine Band historian Mike Ressler in our filmed interview, it would be another 96 years before another civilian would be allowed to guest conduct the Marine Band.
These and more you will have to wait to see when we release our final product in March 2013. Your support will help us complete a film like no other, and help revive interest in Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a celebrity in America 100 years ago, but now a forgotten name.

Did I mention my one-person campaign to nominate Samuel Coleridge-Taylor for a Presidential Medal of Freedom? Stay tuned.
Charles Kaufmann, Producer/Director

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