Monday, October 27, 2014

Southeast Symphony's 'Back on Broadway' at First Congregational Church was enthusiastically appreciated by an ethnically diverse audience

 Long time friends John Malveaux and soprano Amber Mercomes reconnecting after the concert

John Malveaux of 

The Southeast Symphony opened their 67th season in the beautiful and historic First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. The program “Back on Broadway” was enthusiastically appreciated by an ethnically diverse audience. Maestro Anthony Parnther recruited Jennifer Lindsay, Babatunde Akinboboye, Lattrice Lawrence, Amber Mercomes, David Saul Lee, Bradley Baker, and Byron B. Jones to sing selections from WEST SIDE STORY, PORGY AND BESS, DREAMGIRLS, CHICAGO, THE WIZ, LES MISERABLES, and PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. Each soloist was engaging and generously applauded.  Several soloists received standing ovations. At program end, Maestro Parnther responded to insistent applause with an encore, SOUND OF MUSIC-Climb Every Mountain-with each soloist sharing at least one vocal line.
I also enjoyed the program but with a lament. As best I know, not one of the songs performed was written or composed by a person of African descent. Before attending the concert, I read a Los Angeles Times article ‘History in the making’.  “In the newly released book 'Separate Cinema: The First 100 Years of Black Poster Art,' more than 300 full-color pages employ the potent language of art and design to broadcast the ways in which black people were perceived by society and how they coped with it creatively (more than 35,000 posters and photos from more than 30 countries). Education is a remedy for the lack of awareness about history and contributions not embraced by mainstream media. “Back on Broadway” did not educate, enlighten, or heighten awareness of neglected or little known achievements by persons of African descent.
It is the opinion of this ONE, “Back on Broadway” could have been equally entertaining by including a song or two from Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake’s SHUFFLE ALONG or another musical written by an African American. SHUFFLE ALONG premiered in 1921 as the first hit musical on Broadway written by and about African Americans. The musical also introduced hit songs such as "I’m Just Wild About Harry” and “Love Will Find a Way."  
Southeast Symphony Association is the oldest African American founded orchestra in the United States 
John Malveaux

Comments by email:

1) Several years ago, I attended Jelly's Last Jam at the Los Angeles Music Center. Jelly's Last Jam appeared on Broadway in 1992. Composers Jelly Roll Morton and Luther Henderson have deep Los Angeles connections. Morton is buried in Los Angeles. I am not sure about Henderson but I have met his son in Los Angeles.'s_Last_Jam  [John Malveaux]

2) Sorry I missed seeing you.  Glad you were there.  Your comment regarding the lack of African American composers is well taken.  I will mention this at our next Board meeting.  Rosemarie  [Rosemarie-Cook Glover, Treasurer, Southeast Symphony Association] 

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