Thursday, February 28, 2013

Guest Book Post: 'I was a student of Arthur Cunningham's in the early 70's. To say he was the most influential person in my life is very understated.'

Arthur Cunningham (1928-1997) was an African American composer and pianist who was active in both Classical Music and Jazz throughout his life.  He is profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works List by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma,

A post was made in the Guest Book at on February 27, 2013:
Thank you so much for compiling all of this
wonderful information. I was a student of
Arthur Cunningham's in the early 70's. To
say he was the most influential person in
my life is very understated. I really think
he was in some way telepathic. He knew
when I walked in the door whether my day
had been a good one or not. He would
dream his compositions at night, and write
 them down the next day, entire orchestras!
He had a rooster named Kenneth that would
walk around and peck his head to the beat of
whatever music you were playing. What a
smile he had!  I was a very lucky person to
have known him.  Thanks again.  Suzanne
Qualmann - Viola, Idaho


'Michigan Brief: Honoring Rosa Parks with President Obama'

The Michigan Brief
News From The Office of Senator Debbie Stabenow
February 28, 2013 

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow joined President Barack Obama for the ceremonial unveiling of the new Rosa Parks Statue in the U.S. Capitol building this week. Rosa Parks moved to Michigan in 1957, and she lived there until her death in 2005.

"Rosa Parks proved that the simplest acts can be the most heroic," Stabenow said. "By courageously sitting down to stand up for her basic human dignity, she changed our nation's history and made America a more just place. I'm proud that she will be recognized in our nation's Capitol, and all of us in Michigan should be proud that Rosa Parks chose to make our state her home."

Dominique-René de Lerma: 'Black, Brown, and Beige #8'

Jeffrey Mumford 
(Photo: Al Fuchs, Courtesy of Oberlin Conservatory of Music)

Dominique-René de Lerma:

Great expectations
Those who know the music of teenage Mendelssohn -- the Octet, the overture to A midsummer night's dream -- would agree there might never have been so creative and individual a composer-prodigy in music (as a life-long missionary for Mozart that's very painful to admit), and there still remain those 12 string symphonies from his even earlier years.  What followed in adulthood is not always of the same quality.  Despite the popularity of Elijah, it gets awfully close to mere Satzkunst.  (Mendelssohn is next week's topic. by the way.) Now look at Coleridge-Taylor.  Not everyone has agreed with me in the past, but I think Hiawatha's Wedding Feast is masterful and touchingly inventive, and the clarinet quintet, also a work from his youth, promises a wonderful future.  But that didn't happen, did it?  I mean the Petite suite is quite charming, but better suited for promenade concerts amid potted palms than the season's series of serious essays.  Yet that was the work that was excerpted for the eighth program in Bill McLaughlin's two-week tribute to Black music.  There are works which are more historically important than pieces of great art, which some historians might respect longer than aestheticians.  If Hiawatha is not in everyone's latter category (and it ranked in the top three choral works, along with Elijah and the Messiah, for a long period), it certainly belongs to the historical.  Here was a specific work that demonstrated Black talent to Americans shortly before the eruption of the Harlem Renaissance, and helped bring that about.  Listeners not already familiar with Coleridge-Taylor might have looked on this initial exposure as only "nice" music at best. There are better.
We did hear works by two very important figures who have not appeared as often on programs as they really deserve.  Jeffrey Mumford (her easternllight), who has taught at Oberlin and, an old friend of McGlaughlin, helped guide him through this enormous world of Black music.  Jeffrey is fairly well represented by recordings, but how well has he been included on concerts, radio broadcasts, or in the literature?  The same is true for Alvin Singleton, long active in Europe, represented by a work (In Our Own House) that requires a saxophonist with seemingly more than ten fingers.  The CD of Natalie Hinderas was welcomed back for Hale Smith's Evocation.  Time did not allow a richer exploration of this classic figures' output -- his Ritual and incantations  being even more evocative.
The central work was the Liszt E-flat piano concerto, a flamboyant one-movement work, devoid of any subtlety) in the historic performance by a teenage André Watts, whose vast recorded repertoire got as close to his mother's heritage as Gershwin.
The mélange gave us a chance to hear Robert Sims, surely one of the most exciting of today's voices, in Roland Hayes' Little boy.  Again, however, we missed a thread that unites the repertoire but, as usual, Bill McLaughlin certainly continues to stimulate our minds and asks for our reactions.  The web site,, indicates titles, performers, and record labels for the repertoire under "Playlists", as well as a means for expressing our reactions and suggestions.  Shows are developed weeks in advance, but Bill is very receptive to his fans' sentiments.
In the middle of March, he will take us to the southern Americas, but the visit will not include Nunes García, any of the 18th-century figures from Brazil's Minas Gerais,  or Antônio Gomes.  So there is a virginal future.

Dominique-René de Lerma

'Suite DuSable: A Vision of Faith' Sunday, March 3, 2013 from 7-9 PM at DuSable Museum

Renee' Baker:
As a conductor and composer, Renee' Baker has developed into a force to be reckoned with. From her conducting debut at Symphony Center to Café Oto (London), she is fearlessly taking the music world by storm, with the double threat as composer and conductor. Her primary musical vehicle, Chicago Modern Orchestra Project is a tsunami like, genre-sweeping powerhouse that presents every genre thinkable, marrying the elements of classical to jazz with such force and precision that leaves their audiences feeling euphoric, entertained, and educated.

In “Suite DuSable: A Vision of Faith,” a symphonic poem presented in collaboration with Chicago Modern Orchestra Project and AACM, Ms. Baker gives tribute to Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable, the founder of Chicago. This piece is a celebration of Jean Baptiste Point DuSable’s visionary journey, tracing in sound the water routes traveled and choice encounters by Chicago’s first settler from his home in Haiti in the Atlantic Ocean through various waterways leading to the Great Lakes.

“Suite DuSable: A Vision of Faith” is a hypnotic symphony, using conceptual composition and improvisation, combining the lyrical influences of Haiti to New Orleans to Illinois through the avant garde use of unworldly sonorities, glissandos, micro-tonalities and other unusual colors that develop as CMOP and the AACM pull you into the power of history. This symphonic poem displays a subtler appreciation for timbre and effect from an orchestra, developing the distinctive Afro-American forms of blues, spirituals, jazz with jazz-centric rhythmic control, bolstered by the brilliance and forthrightness of the adventurous AACM luminaries. Experience the flexible accumulation of sound-art and music making from the collaboration of these two cutting edge ensembles.

Charles Kaufmann: 'Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and His Music in America, 1900–1912'

CORRECTION: The movie showings will be Wed., March 13, 1 PM, and Sat., March 16, 1:30 PM at Nickelodeon Theater, 1 Temple Street, Portland, as the poster says.

The Longfellow Chorus
February 28, 2013
Portland, Maine

A major figure . . . a meteor strike coming across 
the sky . . . a glorious day, a wonderful time: 
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and His Music in America, 

This POSTER for the movie "Samuel Coleridge-
Taylor and His Music in America, 1900–1912" 
is available in three sizes as a pdf download for 
 share, blog, print and post:

8.5 x 11 US letter size

11 x 17 poster display

27 x 40 billboard size

Thanks for spreading the word about the March 

13 and March 16 premiere of Samuel Coleridge-
Taylor and His Music in America, 1900–1912 !

And see you at The Longfellow Choral Festival

March 13, 16 & 17, in Portland, Maine.

Charles Kaufmann, artistic director
The Longfellow Chorus
PO Box 5133
Portland, Maine 04101

'R. Nathaniel Dett: Magnolias - Kenny Drew Jr.' on YouTube (5:14)

[R.Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943) is profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works list by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma,]

Kenny Drew
Published on Feb 25, 2013
A Black History moment! Robert Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943) was a Black composer who was born in Ontario, Canada and spent most of his life in the United States. He is mostly known for his piano and choral music.

Washington McClain, Baroque Oboe Professor and Member of Groups in Toronto, Montreal and Cleveland Died February 26, 2013

Prof. Washington McClain, Baroque Oboist 
He died February 26, 2013 

Indiana University Bloomington
Jacobs School of Music


Remembering Washington McClain

It is with sadness that I report the unexpected and sudden death of the Early Music Institute’s esteemed colleague and baroque oboe teacher, Washington McClain.

Washington McClain was a former member of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and principal oboist of l’Ensemble Arion (Montreal) and Apollo’s Fire Baroque Orchestra (Cleveland, Ohio). He performed with many other baroque orchestras in the United States and in Canada. Washington was appointed Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music (Baroque Oboe) in the Jacobs School of Music in 2001.

Professor McClain’s extensive teaching and performing experience in workshops and festivals in North America included The Amherst Early Music Festival, Albuquerque Baroque Music Festival, the Madison Early Music Festival, The International Baroque Institute at Longy (Boston), Festival International de Musique Baroque de Lamèque (New Brunswick, Canada), The Staunton Music Festival (Virginia), and the Boston Early Music Festival. He was also the first period instrument performer to be featured in an article in Windplayer Magazine.

Professor McClain made recordings for Sony Classical Vivarte, ATMA Records, Analekta Records, and Centaur Records.  One of McClain’s last recordings, of French baroque music by François Chauvon, a pupil of Couperin, issued on (Montreal), is reviewed in the Spring 2013 issue of Early Music America magazine.

Wash, as he was known to his colleagues, was not only a brilliant musician and teacher but his unfailingly cheerful, sunny disposition and deep, hearty chuckle lightened most of the fleeting moments we spent with him, which makes his untimely passing all the harder to bear.

In the EMI, Wash was much loved by all of the faculty and he will be greatly missed.

Musical Toronto
Sudden death of former Tafelmusik oboist and period-performance teacher Washington McClain

By On
Former Tafelmusik oboist Washington McClain died suddenly and unexpectedly at his home in Windsor, Ont on Feb. 26.

McClain was one of the pioneers in historically informed practice on the oboe and principal oboe with Toronto’s Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra through the 1990s. As a longtime teacher, his influence reached out in some way to just about every period oboe performer in North America.

The graduate of Northeast Louisiana University and Northwestern University was until his death teaching at Indiana University’s Early Music Institute in Bloomington. He was also principal oboe with Montreal’s Ensemble Arion and Apollo’s Fire, and was in demand as a baroque oboe guest with period-instrument orchestras across the continent.

Reached in Montreal this morning, bassoonist, conductor and Ensemble Arion colleague Matthieu Lussier said that McClain had been suffering from some unusual health problems in the last few weeks, including Bell’s palsy, a viral ailment that had temporarily left the oboist unable to provide fine control over the muscles around his mouth.  Lussier said that next week’s Ensemble Arion concerts will likely be dedicated to McClain’s memory. “He was so generous, so sincere, you can’t just say, oh well…”

After leaving Tafelmusik for Ensemble Arion in 1998, McClain had gone to live in Montreal for several years, where he left a deep impression. Lussier said that the oboist was gregarious and made friends wherever he went — including customs officers at the airports where he travelled most frequently. “But he looked for real contact, not just small talk,” added the bassoonist.

Although there probably isn’t a colleague or audience member who wasn’t struck by McClain’s natural warmth and fine musicianship, he appears to have been an intensely private individual. Lussier said he and McClain had spent many months of their lives together on tour. During one trip to Japan, they were roommates for three weeks. “Wash told me about his life, which was a miracle,” recalled Lussier. “He could have ended up in prison, but somehow ended up playing baroque oboe. He was the sweetest guy with the roughest childhood. It says something about his force of character and determination.”

“There are so many fond memories,” Tafelmusik music director Jeanne Lamon wrote in an email. “A very special one was when we were on tour in Athens performing at the Odeon theatre on the Acropolis. Wash spoke to the audience in fluent Greek, being the only one amongst us who knew any Greek, and the looks on their faces were priceless. ‘Surprise’ doesn’t even begin to describe it!”

I’m guessing that McClain was in his early 50s. There are no clear plans yet regarding a funeral or memorial service.

Above links were provided by Leslie Kwan, who writes:

Dear William,

I thought you should know about the passing of Washington McClain, the famous baroque oboist.  He was a revered colleague, had the biggest heart and the most wonderful chuckle. The early music world has lost a great star.

He was a dear friend. I will miss him.

Warmest regards,


Sergio Mims sends this link:

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dominique-René de Lerma: 'Black, Brown, and Beige #7'

Leontyne Price, RCA Records   

Dominique-René de Lerma: 

On his seventh venture, Bill McLaughlin began the huge world of the Black singer, and we know that the remaining three programs in this most welcome series will not be enough even to do more than touch on all this monumental talent, but the inception was right on the mark with Leontyne Price who glistened in Vissi d'arte  and Pace, pace.  (Her 1977 performance of La forza del destino, with the latter aria and Plácido Domingo, is scheduled for broadcast, 23 March at 1 PM, Eastern time zone).  Does anyone know of a totally respectable biography on this prima donna di tutte  le prime donne, or even a serious effort to complete a discography?  She had proven herself  before her Met debut in 1961, when her performance in Il trovatore  elicited a record 45 minutes of cheers and yells from the hall.  She had previously joined William Warfield and others (yes, even Maya Angelou!) in a tour abroad of Porgy and Bess (Gloria Davy, who died last November, was Price's replacement).  During this time, Warfield had secured management, while she was yet left on her own, fearing she would never have a career.   Our dear Mama Price turned 86 this month, three decades after her farewell to the opera stage. 
I knew Warfield, who had come to Appleton on the Holt Series to narrate Peter and the wolf.  In his autobiography (My music and my life, Sagamore, 1991) he admits what had been evident to all of us, that his vocal problems had appeared by the early 1960s, but he continued to charm the public and coached many young singers into major careers.  Anyone who knew him was showered with his infectious good spirits and boundless good humor.  One item that is socially acceptable came straight from the laughing barrel, the Harlem Cheer: Watermelon, barbeque, Cadillac car, We're not as dumb as you think we is.  I have no idea how Leontyne Price put up with his endless repertoire of stories during their marriage and I was discreet enough during our four days together not to ask.  I was in Vienna in 2002 when news reached me that Uncle Bill had died.  His last recording was as narrator on Darryl Taylor's Naxos CD of Langston Hughes settings.
Price and Warfield are both heard in Porgy and Bess, along with McHenry Boatwright and John Bubbles with Skitch Henderson conducting in a recording that, alas, is limited to chunks of selections, but has been reissued in 1999 by RCA on CD.
The inclusion of Ellington's Black, Brown, and Beige gave us the third singer: Mahalia Jackson, whose magnificent contralto never veered to the secular.  Here we heard her in Come Sunday, one of the most touching and beautiful of all melodies.
With so little time left, we know there will be composers, instrumentalists, and singers who cannot be included.  One who will not appear is Dr. Blanche Foreman, another member of the "Michigan Mafia".  Blanche, a student of Eileen Farrell,  completed her Indiana dissertation at my home in Baltimore when she and pianist-composer Charles Lloyd recorded a series of spirituals.  Blanche, whose ambition did include the doctorate, did not follow the career her talent demanded.  She called me one time: "You know Marilyn Horne?   Well, honey, I can sing anything that White b... sings!"  She could, too.   I know it.  But she never did.  Blanche died in 2007.   

Dominique-René de Lerma

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Born Feb. 27, 1807, Wrote Poems Which Became 'Hiawatha Trilogy' of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

[Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) is profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works List and a Bibliography by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, We are collaborating with the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Foundation of the U.K.,]

[Above: This replica of the white marble bust of Longfellow in Poet's Corner, Westminster Abbey, London, England, is found in the Brown Research Library at Maine Historical Society, Portland, Maine. Still image from the video by Richard Kane in "Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and His Music in America, 1900–1912."]

[Above: Rodrick Dixon, as seen in "Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and His Music in America," sings a number of Coleridge-Taylor songs during The Longfellow Choral Festival, March 16 & 17, in Merrill Auditorium, among them, Coleridge-Taylor's setting of Longfellow's poem, "The Arrow and The Song," one of SCT's earliest student compositions. Rod's reading will be from a Coleridge-Taylor manuscript previously thought lost. Thanks to Jonathan Butcher, Artistic Director of Surrey Opera, for finding this for us.]

The Longfellow Chorus
Portland, Maine
February 20, 2013

The whole poem is in praise of a certain lady, who "———— was rich and gave up all/To break the iron bands/Of those who waited in her hall/And labored in her lands." No doubt, it is a very commendable and very comfortable thing, in the Professor, to sit at ease in his library chair, and write verses instructing the southerners how to give up their all with a good grace . . ..—Edgar Allan Poe's criticism of "She Dwells by Great Kenhawa's Side ["The Good Part that shall not be taken away"], one of Longfellow's Poems on Slavery. From the Aristidean, April 1845.

Dear Mr. Hilyer,
. . .Also, the second number of my choral ballads ["She Dwells by Great Kenhawa's Side," from Longfellow's Poems on Slavery] should be for solo quartet, if possible, you have three soloists [Harry T. Burleigh, baritone, Estella Pickney Clough, soprano, and J. Arthur Freeman, tenor], — is a good contralto to be had. . .?—Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, letter to Andrew Hilyer, co-founder of the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Choral Society, Sept. 16, 1904 

Born today, February 27, 206 years ago, in a house (now vanished) not far from today's Casco Bay Lines ferry terminal in Portland, Maine, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his poetry have influenced events and the lives of countless people around the world.

Some of you will recognize that I've repeated a quotation from my July newsletter: Edgar Allan Poe's criticism of Longfellow's poem on slavery, "The Good Part that shall not be taken away," otherwise known as "She Dwells by Great Kenhawa's Side," published in 1842. 

There is a reason for this. At 1 PM, Sunday, March 17, during our pre-Hiawatha-concert recital of Coleridge-Taylor songs and choruses, you will get the chance to hear Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's solo quartet version of the poem that Edgar Allan Poe, a defender of slavery, ceremoniously trashed.

Coleridge-Taylor composed his musical version of "She Dwells by Great Kenhawa's Side" for the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Choral Society of Washington, D. C. The piece — as you can tell from Coleridge-Taylor's letter to Andrew Hilyer, also quoted above — was too difficult for the large chorus, and so the task of singing the premiere on November 16 and 17,1904, was given to three star soloists, among them, Harry T. Burleigh, baritone, and an alto chosen from the choral society membership.

That was not the only aspect of the premiere that was distinctive: the orchestra accompaniment to "She Dwells by Great Kenhawa's Side" was played by the orchestra of the U. S. Marine Band under the baton of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor — the last time a guest conductor would lead "The President's Own" until 1998.

Kenhawa's Side has become part of the mythology of Coleridge-Taylor — and a few people feel very passionate about it — because the only known copies of the orchestra score and parts, published by Breitkopf and Härtel, were destroyed during the urban bombing of the Second World War. 

Thus, our four soloists, Angela Brown, soprano, Rodrick Dixon, tenor, Karla Scott, mezzo-soprano and Robert Honeysucker, baritone, will perform the work with piano, and not orchestra, in Merrill Auditorium on March 17.

But a few further words need to be said about Longfellow and slavery. "She Dwells by Great Kenhawa's Side" is a poem that anticipates the Emancipation Proclamation by 21 years. It is a poem that may well have been based on the life of Angelina Grimké, one of those young wealthy southerners who "gave up their all with good grace," as Poe writes. Those of you who watched "The Abolitionists" on PBS's Great American Experience will recognize Angelina Grimké as the young women who rebels against her slave-owning family in the opening episode. 

Hundreds of young people may have been inspired to help educate the freed slaves after reading Longfellow's "She Dwells by Great Kenhawa's Side" Prominent among those was Charlotte Forten Grimké, an educator and African-American anti-slavery activist, who married Angelina's nephew. And the young W. E. B. Du Bois taught school in the rural south while studying at Fisk University.

Of further interest is Longfellow's poem, "The Building of the Ship," (1849), a pro-Union, "ship as state" poem that was an inspiration to Abraham Lincoln during his presidency.

All of this is to say that Longfellow's influence on American society was enormous. During The Longfellow Choral Festival in Merrill Auditorium, you will hear five musical settings of Longfellow's poetry by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor — one of those, Hiawatha, is four hours long, and so I think that counts as a few extra.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dr. Shirley J. Thompson Recently Took 'Mandela Tales' to South Africa

Flickr Music is Great (This photo is copyrighted  All Rights Reserved)

Sergio Mims relays news from Dr. Shirley J. Thompson, who also provided the above photo and the Cape Times article below:

"You will be pleased to know that I am recently returned from South Africa after an invitation by the British Embassy to be the focus of GREAT British Music Week with my production, 
Mandela Tales. I also gave music workshops in the Cape Town townships. It was a very interesting experience."

Cape Times
Extracts of 'Mandela Tales' at British showcase

Ben Holt Memorial Concerts Revived with Audra McDonald

Ben Holt in Die Fledermaus

Dominique-René de Lerma:

Dean Brian Pertl of Lawrence University's Conservatory of Music, brought many aggiornamenti to the school's curricula, including ethnic considerations (he had previously been Microsoft's in-house ethnomusicologist). He has now announced the revival of the Ben Holt Memorial Concert Series, which had been dormant during a seven-year interregnum.

            Igniting this will be Audra McDonald, on 10 March.  A Juilliard student of Eileen Faull, she has won five Tony awards (the last for her Porgy and Bess) and appeared in Poulenc's La voix humaine with the Houston Grand Opera.  In addition to other opera repertoire, she was an Emmy nominee for her work as an actress on television and has appeared in major films. She has also been a guest on the television program of former presidential candidate, Stephen Colbert.

            The series is a tribute to Ben Holt, African and Native American of the Metropolitan Opera, whose super-star incipit was cut short by cancer, when he had just begun his ascent at age 34, the time a male voice reaches its maturity.  It had been known ten years earlier that his cancer could have been cured by chemotherapy, but that this would have an effect on his voice (witness the case of José Carreras).  He opted to live with it, sharing his love of the art, not only with concert goers, but children, the infirm, and incarcerated as well.  His credo: God gave me the gift of life.  What I do with that life is a gift back to God.

            The series was initiated in 1992 when I was director of Chicago's Center for Black Music Research, with a recital by mezzo-soprano Bonita Hyman (later principal with the Hamburg Opera).   Bass-baritone Kevin Short followed, not only in Chicago in 1993, but at Lawrence University when I joined the Conservatory faculty in 1994.  Subsequent artists included the late William Warfield, who grandfatherly narrated Peter and the wolf with the Conservatory's orchestra in a benefit for the Music Academy, to an overflowing hall.  In 1995, the Met's first tenor, George Shirley was heard in recital. Then was soprano Elizabeth Norman, who had just won the Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air, and now is on the faculty of Roosevelt University.  Kishna Davis, a private student of Leontyne Price (!), was the soprano in the orchestra's 1997 performance of the Beethoven ninth (available on CD).  Melissa White, 13-year-old violinist who had not yet won first place in the Sphinx Competition nor been accepted at the Curtis Institute of Music, was the 1997 guest artist.  In 1998, the prolific music journalist and author, Gene Lees,  spoke on literary style in popular music texts.  In 1999 we brought cellist Jared Snyder, who had just won first place in the Sphinx Competition for his cello recital debut (his mom, bassist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, had worked for me during her students days at Indiana University and had studied voice with Mari Tanaguchi at Lawrence; as for his father, he was immediately engaged as director of the Conservatory's prep school).  The tenth season brought us Dr. Daniel Bernard Roumain, composer-violinist, whose reputation as a hip-hop idealized innovator and minimalist had him well on his way to international fame.  In 2002 another Sphinx winner came for a recital: violinist Gareth Johnson.  In 2003, a magnificent lecture-recital by tenor Dr. Darryl Taylor gave note to the centennial of the birth of Langston Hughes (this recording artist, a principal figure in vocal music repertoire and research, is now on the faculty of the University of California-Irvine). His program brought out a large population as well from the students and faculty of the English department. The last event before the hiatus was in 2004, when choral conductor for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra the late Brazeal W. Dennard, conducted the campus chorus.
            It was after this concert, health imposed itself on my activities.  Now, in this resurrection, Dean Pertl has at least two faculty members on his team for Holt concepts: George and Marjorie Olsen Chandler Professor of Music Janet Anthony (head of the string department) and Kenneth Bozeman (head of the vocal department, and the Frank C. Shattuck Professor of Music).
Antonio Green's web site on Ben Holt, including an album of historic photos, may be found at

Dominique-René de Lerma

Dominique-René de Lerma: 'Black, Brown, and Beige #6'

Adolphus C. Hailstork (b. 1941) is featured at 

African Heritage Symphonic Series, Vol. II; Epitaph For A Man Who Dreamed In Memoriam: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968); by Adolphus C. Hailstork; Chicago Sinfonietta; Paul Freeman, Conductor: Cedille CDR 90000 061 (2001)

Dominique-René de Lerma:

Those who were around in the late 40s will know that a "moldy fig" was one who didn't dig bop.  If that pejorative term could be pushed back a few decades to embrace the blues, some who tuned into the second week's start of Bill McLaughlin's NPR series, Portraits in Black, Brown and Beige, would have taken offence.  But the blues is the secular side of the spiritual (to which we surely will yet be treated).  Although a reaction against Reconstruction, it soon became the catharsis'  means of survival and nurtured the jazz and, later, gospel music, as well as R&B, minus the laments.  In its classic form, as Bill exemplified, it was a variety of solo call and response, using the most elemental harmonic patterns, thus assuring a variety of applications.  Because Black music does not like silence, each line of the verse was the time to insert commentary, either vocal ("yes, Lord!") or instrumental, as with Louis Armstrong's insertion -- the "break".  African music does not like the half-step interval , so the blues microtonally lowers the third and seventh degrees of the West's major scale. This could have been illustrated by either of the two first-movement themes of William Grant Still's Afro-American symphony, which we have been able to hear at least twice during the last week.  This was, in music, what the Harlem Renaissance sought in the 'elevation" of the folkloric; Still used the symphony for his blues, while Claude McKay (Still's contemporary) used the Shakespearean sonnet  to frame his militant If we must die.
              Bill made reference to the European (relative) emphasis on the first beat of a measure.  This is because that is the place where the previous harmonic motion settles on the tonic, excepting for feminine endings (the gender reference is to French grammar).  Black music democratizes the pulsations by giving emphasis also to other beats.
              We had a chance to hear Louis Armstrong's raspy singing. This is a continuation of the African Klangideal which added jingling rattles to the kora and rattling beads to the mbira.  If we had been able to isolate Armstrong's vowels, we would have heard a sonority akin to that of his trumpet, alerting us to the firm confluence of sonorities in Black music, including the messages of the dundun and Adelaide Hall's scat singing with the sound of Bubber Miley's trumpet in Creole love call.
I'm listening to Black, Brown and Beige on Chicago's WFMT.  This is not an NPR affiliate; they carry commercials, brief but ubiquitous.  These are, however, devoid of hysterics, commands (CALL NOW!), snake oil promos, and mendacious testimonials. It is good preparation for the future, when Philistine politicians, true to their tradition, will regard "high" culture, the arts, and things cerebral as expendable frills, in which federal funds need not be diverted, and that will be the end of National Public Radio.  WFMT's airing was an hour early, to make room for a live broadcast of Rigoletto from the Lyric (far more welcome that yet another airing of a Vivaldi concerto in C major for whatever).  
The program was less unified by the juxtaposition of unrelated works, already exemplified.
This left the Epitaph of Adolphus Hailstork in strange company (and Dolph is no longer on the faculty of  Norfolk State, but now has an honorary appointment at Old Dominion -- did my liner notes err?).
Whenever the week's topic is announced, I try to guess what works will be included.  This time, I'm up for pot luck, although I have certain hopes, if time permits.  By the end of this week, I think we would all be interested in knowing what works or composers the faithful missed.
(BTW: If you wish either a CD or DVD of the Still symphony, so well performed by Kirk Moss and the Lawrence University Symphony Orchestra -- as well as some fascinating tributes to Native Americana -- instructions for order placement are provided at the bottom of

Dominique-René de Lerma

Monday, February 25, 2013 'James DePreist memorial scheduled' in Philadelphia March 4, 2013 at 11 AM

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013, 12:47 PM

Intercultural Music Festival & Symposium: Free Concert Sunday, March 3, 2013, 4 PM, Pilgrim Congregational Church, 826 Union Blvd, St. Louis, MO 'The Choral Mix with Kent Tritle: African American Choral Composers'

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

William Grant Still (1895-1978) and Ulysses S. Kay, Jr. (1917-1995) are profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works List for each by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, 

An hour of choral music of African American composers may be heard via the following link:

WQXR New York City

African American Choral Composers

Sunday, February 24, 2013

On this edition of The Choral Mix, Kent Tritle explores compositions of contemporary African Americans.  
Ulysses Kay was originally encouraged to pursue composition by William Grant Still, and composed for chorus receiving particular praise for his works. He taught for two decades in the city at Lehman College. Featured on this episode is his sacred triptych called, A New Song-3 Psalms for Chorus. They are a capella settings of portions of Psalms 149, 103 and 117. The Choir of Trinity Church Wall Street sings this version under the direction of Larry King.

Philip Brunelle and his Minnesota group Vocalessence are champions of African American composition. We play selections sung by the midwestern group composed by two leading women -- Undine Smith Moore and Evelyn Simpson-Curenton.

This episode would not be complete without a contribution from the great William Grant Still. Grant Still was a prolific composer and man of many firsts -- the first African-American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra, the first to have a symphony (his first symphony) performed by a leading orchestra, the first to have an opera performed by a major opera company, and the first to have an opera performed on national television. These are all testaments to the great quality of work.  We feature his dramatic work, Wailing Woman. It's scored for Chorus, Orchestra and soloist.  We play a version featuring more of Vocalessence, with soloist Yolanda Williams led by Philip Brunelle.

Dominique-René de Lerma on W.G. Still's 'Afro-American Symphony': There has not been any performance that has equaled that of Lawrence's orchestra

William Grant Still

Dominique-René de Lerma:

I am extraordinarily glad that, through the critically important web site of William Zick (, a targeted and international audience was aware of this performance of William Grant Still's Afro-American symphony.  I was involved in the LP recording of the work we did with the London Symphony Orchestra (the other LSO) for Columbia Records forty years ago and I am very familiar with all of the subsequent CD recordings.  There has not been any performance that has equaled that of Lawrence's orchestra, conducted with such profound understanding by Dr. Moss -- not in terms of sentiment, balance, or insight.  I knew Dr. Still, and I know he would have been astonished that any undergraduate school orchestra would have scheduled or given so stellar a performance.  I alerted in advance Judith Anne Still, the composer's daughter and my dear friend, to this performance.  She certainly listened on her computer, along with our many friends and colleagues in Europe and Africa.  This performance is being added to the entry on Still in my forthcoming encyclopedia.  The first time anyone at Lawrence ever heard this work (or perhaps Still's name) would have been in my classes on Black music (1994-2002). The students were then irritated they had not thus far encountered such a milestone in Black music history.  Now, by more than those just in the Con, this work has been heard.  And all of those elsewhere were introduced to the high standards of our students.  I am so deeply proud that my final of 52 years of teaching, were dedicated to Lawrence!

Dominique-René de Lerma, retired professor of music, Lawrence University

Comment by email:
It was indeed a wonderful performance, and an important moment for Lawrence to let this great work resound though the Chapel and across the globe via our webcast.  Thank you all for your support getting the word out about this concert.

Still glowing from the glorious music-making.

Dean Brian Pertl

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Eric Conway: 'Meet our guest choirs for our March 3 Silver Anniversary Celebration Concert'

Eric Conway of Morgan State University forwards this release:

The Bach Concert Series' Silver Anniversary Celebration Concert Series is just days away -- on Sunday, March 3 at Chizuk Amuno Congregation. Do you have your tickets yet? The concert will be a joyous occasion of massive scope: 300 musicians will perform Beethoven's 9th Symphony, including 52 orchestra members and four world-class soloists, all under the direction of Bach Concert Series founder, Maestro T. Herbert Dimmock.
Joining the Bach Concert Choir at this concert will be two magnificent choirs from Maryland, the Maryland State Boychoir and the Morgan State University Choir. 

Now celebrating its 26th season, The Maryland State Boychoir under the direction of Stephen A. Holmes serves the State of Maryland as its "Official Goodwill Ambassadors." The Boychoir performs over 60 times annually throughout Maryland as well as on national and international tours. The Maryland State Boychoir is dedicated to providing talented boys with a musical education in the tradition of the great European choir schools and provides an environment that cultivates the art of choral singing. Boys in the choir are given opportunities to perform professionally and grow socially. Visit for more information. 

The Morgan State University Choir is one of the nation's most prestigious university choral ensembles. The choral forces of this critically acclaimed choir include The University Choir, which is over 130 voices strong, and The Morgan Singers - approximately 40 voices. While classical, gospel, and contemporary popular music comprise the choir's repertoire, the choir is noted for its emphasis on preserving the heritage of the spiritual, especially in the historic practices of performance. The Morgan State University Choir has shared its musical gifts on many grand stages all over the world - with numerous dignitaries and celebrated performers - making them cultural ambassadors for Morgan State University, the City of Baltimore, the State of Maryland and the United States. Please visit for additional information.

SlippedDisc: 'Rub your ears: Fast-rising pop star came out of … top symphony orchestra'

Laura Mvula

Sergio Mims sends this link:

Arts Journal
February 22, 2013 by

We hear that Laura Mvula – the singer-songwriter whose debut album, Sing to the Moon, is being tipped for the charts – has come up through the classical hothouse.

No sooner did we admire the quality of her debut track this morning than friends at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra popped up to tell us that Laura used to play in the first violin section of the CBSO Youth Orchestra and worked until last year as receptionist at the CBSO Centre. She played in The Firebird under Sakari Oramo and in the world premiere of Tansy Davies Streamlines. ‘She’s classically trained to the hilt, profoundly musical, and as modest and engaging as anyone could wish,’  says Birmingham classical music writer Richard Bratby.
I love it when the two worlds of music kiss, rather than collide.