Monday, October 22, 2012

"Revisiting William Grant Still," March 24, 2009 Remarks of Leon Botstein, conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra

[Africa: Piano Music of William Grant Still; Denver Oldham, piano; Koch International Classics 3-7084-2H1]

John Malveaux of writes:

Prior to March 24, 2009 concert "Revisiting William Grant Still", Leon Botstein, conductor the American Symphony Orchestra contributed the following:

Still was often referred to as the dean of African-American composers, but despite his myriad achievements, concertgoers today know little about him and rarely encounter his works. True to its mission, the ASO seeks to redress that injustice with this program, which also poses questions about how race has impacted Still’s musical legacy. As the ASO’s Music Director, Leon Botstein explains:

“When this concert … was scheduled a year and a half ago, those who were betting on who might be the next president of the United States gave Barack Obama very low odds. … Eminent African-American composers of classical and concert music have been rare, just as the advent of an African-American president is unique, at least for now. What connects the career of Barack Obama with that of William Grant Still is that they both defy the easy stereotypes we associate with race. … There is no uniformity in response to the world that the color of one’s skin renders inevitable. William Grant Still was an individual who crafted an individual voice … [and] his own vision of the African-American heritage. In the end the promise of individuality and a respect for it commends democracy and freedom to us all.”
John Malveaux

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