Friday, December 6, 2013

Zanaida Robles: Dissertation on Choral Music of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor; San Gabriel Valley Choral Company Concert Sat., Dec. 21, 7:30 PM, Monrovia, CA

[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.,]

Charles Kaufmann forwards this announcement by Zanaida Robles on the choral music of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor:
Dear Friends,

My name is Zanaida Robles, and I am a DMA candidate in Choral Music at the USC Thornton School of Music. I hope all is well with you.

If you are receiving this message, it is because you have played an important role in my musical life. Either you taught me, you encouraged me, you gave me a chance to perform, you helped me earn funding for my education, or you've been an inspirational figure in my life. So first, I want to thank you for all you've done for me and for other aspiring students and musicians who, without your support, might not otherwise have achieved so much or come so far. With a husband who is a professional singer and two young daughters on the side, I make my living solely as a classical music performer and teacher. And I will be the first in my family to earn a doctoral degree of any kind. My gratitude for so many blessings is immeasurable.

I am writing to inform you of my intent to write my doctoral dissertation on the choral music of Samuel Coleridge Taylor. African British composer Samuel Coleridge Taylor (1875-1912), was affectionately referred to in his time as the African “Mahler.” His most popular work, Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast for soli, chorus and orchestra, is a shining example of his command of musical form, texture, harmony, and orchestration, which resulted in overnight fame and respect among colleagues that few men of color could have hoped to enjoy in the early twentieth century. Because of his incredible success in a field dominated by white males at a time when racism in America was peaking, Coleridge Taylor’s influence on African American artists and intellectuals was powerful and far-reaching. After Hiawatha, Coleridge-Taylor is most known for his 24 Negro Melodies, his violin concerto, a host of chamber music and several art songs - his compositional output is substantial and varied. The purpose of my dissertation will be to examine the construction, style, character, historic value, and contemporary relevance of the choral music of Samuel Coleridge Taylor, a body of repertoire that has heretofore been virtually neglected.
With an opus of at least twenty known works for chorus, including two sets of part songs, five choral ballades, two major cantatas, seven smaller cantatas, eight anthems, and a Morning and Evening Service, Coleridge Taylor’s contribution to the choral genre is significant but seriously underexplored. Recordings of this highly regarded composer’s choral works are hard to come by, and few scholarly sources offer much insight into his choral music beyond merely acknowledging its existence in lists and catalogues. Research and analysis is necessary so that knowledge of this music might increase and performances and recordings of these works might resume after a century of neglect. Coleridge Taylor was one of the earliest composers of African decent whose music was revered, not for any Afro-centric novelty, but for being well crafted and wholly original yet distinctly Victorian. With this research on Samuel Coleridge Taylor, the compositional voices of past and contemporary African American composers might also be more distinctly heard and appreciated, not just for the novelty of spirituals and crossover works, but for their genuinely fine craftsmanship and distinctly classical American sound. To that end, Samuel Coleridge Taylor can still lead and inspire the American musical community, just as he did a century ago.

So, I invite your thoughts on Coleridge Taylor. A preliminary bibliography has been created, and I am continuing to gather resource in preparation for writing my paper this spring. Any advice or information you can offer is most welcome. In addition to finishing this dissertation, my goal over the next few years  is to perform and record Coleridge Taylor's music with my choir, the San Gabriel Valley Choral Company, based in Monrovia, CA. I hope for the opportunity to present performances of Coleridge Taylor's music at concerts, festivals, and conferences in the near future. Many thanks for your continued support!

Finally, if you live in the Southern California area, let me also invite you to attend the San Gabriel Valley Choral Company's "Winter Portrait" concert on Saturday, December 21at 7:30pm at Monrovia First Presbyterian Church. Enjoy a festive, musical collection of seasonal favorites and choral gems including music by Sweelinck, Rutter, Basler and Baker. With a holiday sing-along and special guest brass quintet, The Oakwood Brass Outreach Project, it's a musical portrait to stir up your holiday cheer! Reply to this message, and I'll be delighted to provide you complimentary tickets. 

I wish you all the best for a glorious holiday season!


Zanaida Robles, Artistic Director
San Gabriel Valley Choral Company

Vocal Music Faculty
Los Angeles County High School for the Arts

DMA Choral Music (ABD)
University of Southern California
Thornton School of Music

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