Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Leo Brouwer's Black Decameron on Afro-Cuban program of 11th Chicago Latino Music Festival Thursday, December 1, 2016, Studebaker Theater

Afro-Cuban composer, conductor and guitarist
Leo Brouwer (b. 1939) is featured at

11th Chicago Latino Music Festival

Dance & Music presented by the Ruth Page Center for the Arts and the Chicago Latino Music Festival

Víctor Alexander- choreographer
Frank Chaves – choreographer
Ruth Page Center for the Arts Company
Hedwig Dances
Latino Music Festival Ensemble
Kaia String Quartet

Cuban choreographers Victor Alexander and Frank Chaves cooperate in this show featuring fascinating Afro-cuban folk rhythms played on the batá drums, one new piece by Chicago Latino composer Elbio Barilari, as well as a brand new take including choreography, narration and orchestration, of the famous “Black Decameron” by iconic Cuban composer Leo Brouwer.

Admission: $30 General / $25 Student,Senior or ILCC Member
Studebaker Theater, Fine Arts Building
410 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60605

Concert Program

Traditional Cuban music - “Ritmos Cubanos”
Elbio Barilari - “Canyengue”
Elbio Barilari - “Cuban Canvas” (World Premiere)
Leo Brouwer -  “Gassire’s Lute: The Black Decameron”, orchestrated by Marcus Dunleavy

Delaware Online: Violinist Nina Anderson to play National Anthem 6:30 PM, Dec. 13, National Violin Day, at Delaware 87ers Basketball Game, for Tova Sickle Cell Center

Nina Anderson

Aaron P. Dworkin
Founder, Sphinx Organization, and
Dean, University of Michigan 
School of Music, Theatre & Dance

Delaware Online

November 21, 2016

Delaware Voice Nina Anderson

I grew up in a working class musical family with parents who appreciated the arts. They instilled in me an appreciation for classical music and other music genres, that was pivotal in my upbringing. I started out playing the piano and was introduced to the violin at Warner Elementary in Wilmington. At the time, Warner had robust arts and music programs. Back then, taking up an instrument and active participation in the music and arts program were a required element as part of a student’s overall academic success.
Unfortunately, there were very few African-American students who took up playing the violin, and as I continued on, it was a rarity to hear a young violinist soloing a violin concerto. Throughout the years of training, I yearned for a cultural connection in the music community and mentorship with a classically trained African-American violin teacher and role model.
Although classical music may be of European in origin, its Afro-European and African-American lineage is diverse. During the 18th century, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges was an Afro-French composer, violinist, and conductor. He became one of the earliest French composers of a string quartet and symphony. African-American born talented violinist and composer, Aaron Dworkin, a MacArthur Fellow, holds an annual competition for Black and Latino string players which aims to increase the number of minority professional symphony players. 


Dec. 13, is National Violin Day, and the holiday honors the bowed-string instrument which is also known as the fiddle. The violin is part of the string family which includes the viola, cello, and bass. It is the highest pitched instrument of the family.
On that day, I will have the opportunity to play at a Delaware 87ers basketball game on center stage to raise Sickle Cell awareness, and call attention to the importance of music education. Please join me, as I will play the National Anthem on the violin to support the TOVA Sickle Cell Specialty Center at the Bob Carpenter Center at 6:30 p.m. during the pregame ceremony.
Dr. Nina Anderson is a founding member of the Umoja Strings, executive director of TOVA Community Health Sickle Cell Specialty Center, and is an affiliated assistant professor at the University of Delaware.

Comment by email:
Thanks so much for your message Bill and this is wonderful! Hope all is well… Aaron  [Aaron P. Dworkin]

ASALH: Become A Featured Author at the 91st Annual Black History Luncheon February 25, 2017

Sylvia Y. Cyrus writes:

Have you published this year? All authors are encouraged to register early for the Featured Authors' Event where you can promote your work!
ASALH's 91st Annual Black History Luncheon presents an exciting opportunity for you to gain visibility and promote your book, as well as share in the largest black history event of its kind. The Annual Luncheon will attract 1,000 guests, both locally and nationally. Please reply as soon as possible, as spaces fill up fast. 

The Authors' Event is FREE and Open to the public. Encourage your friends to attend.

Saturday, February 25, 2017
 Washington Renaissance Hotel
999 Ninth Street, NW * Washington, D.C.  20001 * 202-824-9200  

Featured Authors' Event: 10 a.m.-12:00 p.m. 
91st-Annual Luncheon  12:15 p.m. Sharp
The event is free and open to the public. 
January 13, 2017
You are encouraged to register early. Spaces fill quickly. 
Click here to register as an author
Completed Applications Require ALL of the Following:
  1. Completed Request Form (with additional pages if necessary)
  2. The non-refundable processing fee of $50.00.
  3. An autographed copy of the book(s) intended for sale at the Book Signing Event.
  4. Only applications for published books will be considered.
  5. All steps must be completed in order for your application to be processed.       
Note: Authors are not required to be ASALH members but are encouraged to join.
Self published authors, please contact Karen May at or 202.238.5910 prior to registering. 

Composers Concordance: Chamber People: Co-Presented with Hudson Heights Community Music Program, Thursday, December 15, 7 PM, 729 W. 181st Street, NYC

Valerie Coleman-Page, Director
The Hudson Heights Community Music Program

December 15th @ 7pm

Fort Washington Collegiate Church  
729 West 181st Street, NYC  

On December 15th, Composers Concordance will co-present, with the Hudson Heights Community Music Program, a program entitled 'Chamber People,' at Fort Washington Collegiate Church in NYC. The concert will feature compositions by Valerie Coleman-Page, Mark Kostabi, Gene Pritsker, Dan Cooper, Tasos Papastamou, and Jay Kauffman. Performers will include John Kneiling - cello; Valerie Coleman-Page - flute; Jai Jeffryes, Nicole Brancato, and Mark Kostabi - piano; Sean Satin, Gene Pritsker, Jay Kauffman - guitar; and Elena Shalenkova and Tasos Papastamou - violin.

Comment by email:
Thank you so much Bill!  g  [Gene Pritsker]

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tadias: Ethiopia: Composer & Pianist Girma Yifrashewa's Phenomenal Show in Harlem [Sunday, November 27, 2016]

Girma Yifrashewa
(The Irish Times)

Girma Yifrashewa has a website at: 
and  is featured at


Monday, November 28th

New York  Last night in New York the Thanksgiving weekend program at Ginny's Supper Club in Harlem featured a special Ethiopia-inspired dinner menu prepared by Chef Marcus Samuelsson followed by a live performance by classical Ethiopian pianist Girma Yifrashewa.

Girma's amazing concert on Sunday evening included his original compositions that evoke "Ethiopian melody making," as he told the audience, "decorated" with sounds of the classical music tradition in combination with Ambassel, Bati, Anchihoye and Tizita based on Ethiopian music's unique tone scale system.

AACI: Tickets are now on sale for our AACI concerts on Saturday and Sunday, January 28 and 29, 2017 at 3 p.m. Our theme is "Let the Knowing Speak"

Tickets are now on sale (click here) for our AACI concerts on Saturday and Sunday, January 28 and 29, 2017 at 3 p.m.!

Because our concerts generally sell out, we encourage you to purchase tickets early at Brown Paper Tickets. Be sure to select your preferred date from the drop-down menu.

The timely theme for the concerts is “Let the Knowing Speak,” where we will present music born of African American history told in the powerful language of spirituals, blues, jazz, instrumental music, and song.
Performing on the 2017 concerts are soprano Yolanda Rhodes, pianists/vocalists LaDoris Cordell and Deanne Tucker, Picasso Ensemble: violinist Susan C. Brown, cellist Victoria Ehrlich, pianist Jodi Gandolfi, flutist Stephanie McNab, clarinetist Carol Somersille, bassoonist Rufus Olivier III, trumpeter John Worley, trombonist John Monroe, percussionist Jim Kassis, the modern dancers of Eastside Prep, and special guest artists pianist Valerie Capers, bassist John Robinson, tenor Othello Jefferson, and saxophonist Oscar Pangilinan.
We look forward to seeing you in January!

AACI Co-Founders LaDoris Cordell, Jodi Gandolfi, and Deanne Tucker, along with all the musicians of AACI.

For more information on the African American Composer Initiative, please visit:
This program is supported in part by a grant from the Musical Grant Program of the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the service of chamber music in California and a matching grant from the Carpenter Fund.
AACI is a fiscally sponsored affiliate of San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the service of chamber music in California.
Copyright © 2016 African American Composer Initiative, All rights reserved.

Comment by email:

Many thanks, Bill! --- ld  [LaDoris Cordell]

At Chicago Sinfonietta, we have a lot to be grateful for this year. But what we are most grateful for is you, our Chicago Sinfonietta family.

At Chicago Sinfonietta, we have a lot to be grateful for this year.

We were awarded the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. We have had sold out concerts and record-breaking ticket sales. More people participated in our audience engagement activities (newly named as BRIDGE) than ever before. Our Project Inclusion initiative continues to serve more diverse young musicians, conductors, and administrative professionals than any comparable program in the country.
But what we are most grateful for is you, our Chicago Sinfonietta family.

None of this would have been possible without your support. Whether you have been with us for years or are planning to attend your first concert, on this #GivingTuesday, we give thanks for you.

Let us continue together as a family. 


Baruch Performing Arts Center: FLUTRONIX, Nathalie Joachim and Allison Loggins-Hull, Friday, December 2, 2016 at 8 PM, Milt Hinton Jazz Perspectives

David France Congratulates Two Graduating Seniors of Roxbury Youth Orchestra, Winners of John and Abigail Adams Scholarship to MA Public Colleges

David France

David France writes:

Ritz Chamber Players 15th Anniversary Season Giving Tuesday $150,000 Community Match, Delores Barr Weaver Fund, Established 2012

Ritz Chamber Music Society, Inc., 300 West Water Street, Suite 200, Jacksonville, FL 32202

Monday, November 28, 2016

Memphis-based PRIZM Ensemble innovates with orchestra that mirrors city's diversity [Lecolion Washington, Founder, Has Recorded African-American Works]

PRIZM Ensemble

Legacy: Works for Bassoon by African-American Composers
Lecolion Washington

NOVEMBER 28, 2016

(MEMPHIS, TN) – What if an orchestra looked like its home city? That’s the (unfortunately) novel concept behind PRIZM Chamber Orchestra, an ensemble whose membership mirrors the demographic diversity of Memphis, launched this month by the nonprofit PRIZM Ensemble.
The launch of PRIZM Chamber Orchestra is a historic moment for the ensemble and for the city. Though there is a growing conversation around diversity in classical music, PRIZM is excited to be among that small group who demonstrate what can happen when an organization is wholly dedicated to this ideal and holds themselves accountable for their success in achieving it. The Chamber Orchestra made its debut in the Opera Memphis production of The Marriage Of Figaro, which also featured an intentionally diverse cast.
PRIZM founder Lecolion Washington, throughout his career committed to equity and inclusion in the arts, says the idea for PRIZM Chamber Orchestra was percolating within PRIZM for some time.
“Often people think, if we’re more diverse then we have to lower our standard,” Washington says. “What I wanted to show is that you can have both. You can have an extremely high-level performance and an extremely diverse group of people. And so my question is, if you can have both, why would you ever settle for less than that?”
The PRIZM Chamber Orchestra’s 31 members represent 16 cities and 11 states. While some of the musicians are based in Memphis, many flew in for the production and to make history with this innovative new group.
“I could feel and hear that these musicians were bringing something extra to this project,” Washington says. “They were saying something to the community, to the country, really. Many of them aren’t from this city, they don’t know Memphis, but they know what it’s like to be a classical musician and a person of color, just existing in this world. They knew they were playing for something that was bigger than this performance, bigger than any individual there.”
“You can have an extremely high-level performance and an extremely diverse group of people. And so my question is, if you can have both, why would you ever settle for less than that?”
While the musicians were in Memphis, they also took part in PRIZM’s in-school programming, visiting two schools where they played for and with young musicians. It’s another key component of PRIZM’s efforts to create access to a diverse classical music scene. “Representation is very important to a young person”, Washington said. “We as parents, educators, and leaders have an obligation to create opportunities for young people to see adults who look like them doing amazing things.”

With these inaugural performances complete – and a rousing success with two sold-out houses – the next step for PRIZM Ensemble’s leadership is to work to incorporate the PRIZM Chamber Orchestra into the 2017 PRIZM Music Camp and International Chamber Music Festival. The Ensemble will seek financial support over the coming months to ensure that the members of the orchestra can come back to Memphis to work even more closely with Memphis youth while performing for Memphis audiences.
“I’m trying to create a world where this isn’t a novelty,” Washington says. “The thought should be: ‘We try to identify the best musicians and we try to make sure the work we do mirrors and represents the community in which we live.’ My dream for PRIZM Chamber Orchestra is that we continue doing it, it expands and spreads nationwide, and then it becomes something that’s not necessary anymore. It’s not something on the fringe, it’s something at the center of the work. It’s part of the culture.”
And indeed, Washington’s assessment of the impact of PRIZM Chamber Orchestra on its members was accurate. The feeling in the pit throughout the weekend’s performances was palpable.
“Every voice deserves to be heard, every young person deserves to experience what it means to make art,” says violinist Kyra Sims. “But if they don't see themselves reflected in that art, they may not realize that that door is open to them. This is why I create. This is why I play. I’m so grateful to PRIZM for giving me a chance to bring my art back to the city where I grew up.”
Violinist Hannah Monk agreed. “I teach a diverse group of kids, and they are the embodiment of everything that makes our city special,” she says. “They are unique, creative, intelligent, and hilarious and many of them love their instrument and love classical music. I do not want any of my students to ever think that classical music is not for them. I want each of them to be able to look at the faces of a diverse orchestra and say, ‘This is what an orchestra looks like. An orchestra looks like me.’”

Formed in 2004, The PRIZM Ensemble consists of classically trained Memphis musicians who specialize in chamber music and are dedicated to developing and promoting local talent in the Memphis area through educational and performance opportunities. PRIZM serves as the ensemble-in-residence at Shady Grove Presbyterian Church in East Memphis and performs several interactive chamber concerts at various locations throughout the year. Additionally, the group puts on the annual PRIZM Camp & International Chamber Music Festival each summer. For more about The PRIZM Ensemble, call 901-596-9105 or visit

Comments by email:

1) Bill,  Thanks for sharing this around! Nice to hear from you again! Lecolion Washington

2) Bill – thank you so much! We’ll share this via our socials this week. Cheers, Elizabeth Cawein

Democrat & Chronicle: Black musicians' Gateways Music Festival retooling event [Lee Koonce is now President and Artistic Director]

Lee Koonce

Jeff Spevak

November 25, 2016

Lee Koonce has a vision. “We need a million black and Latino kids playing the violin,” he says. “And another million playing the cello. Two million, even.”
Koonce is the first person to hold a paid position with the Gateways Music Festival, its main goal being to support black classical musicians. The Eastman School of Music Dean Jamal Rossi, the University of Rochester and Gateways itself teamed up to create the new position.
“I think the miracle of the festival is it’s been operated by this extraordinary cast of volunteers, 30 to 40 de facto staff people,” Koonce says. “The miracle of Gateways is it has been able to thrive and survive.”
Since taking over as president and artistic director on July 1, Koonce has already resolved one issue with the nationwide festival, which the Eastman School of Music has played host to since 1997. As a once-every-two-years event, it was too easy for it to slip off of the radar. But with next summer’s festival, Aug. 8 through 13, Gateways becomes a yearly event.
“So much momentum is lost if you take a year off,” Koonce says.
The Gateways Music Festival, which debuted 23 years ago in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is a weeklong conference of talks, performances and networking. In 2015, the event drew 125 musicians, including “20 from major symphonic orchestras around the country, faculty members from conservatories or music schools, freelancers,” Koonce says.
Since 1997, he’s been one of the volunteers keeping Gateways going. Originally from Chicago, Koonce himself is a pianist, having earned his master's at the Eastman School of Music while here from 1986 through ’88. He’s held positions in New York City as executive director of Ballet Hispanico and Third Street Music School Settlement. Before that, he was director of community relations at the Chicago Symphony.
Koonce confesses his own playing has lapsed over the past three or four years as the business end of the music took over. He’s been exploring the possibility of returning to performing with some Rochester musicians, perhaps playing in a trio format. But he’ll still split his week between Rochester and New York City. “A large part of my job is fundraising,” he says, and the change is jingling on the pockets of Manhattan’s elites.
Strategic planning for the Gateways of the future is underway. “It’s clear to all of us that Gateways needs to and wants to have a presence in Rochester 12 months out of the year,” Koonce says. “How that takes shape, I’m not sure.”
Perhaps through a permanent ensemble playing shows in Rochester, he speculates. Or more involvement in the public schools. And, “How do we increase our national presence?” Koonce wonders.
Not only how does Gateways increase its national presence, but how do black classical musicians do it? Koonce cites statistics from the League of American Orchestras that says 1.7 percent of classical musicians are of African descent. 

Comment by email:
Thanks so much, Bill.  You're amazing!   All best wishes,  Lee  [Lee Koonce]

Sergio A. Mims: The BBC documentary about cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason and his remarkable family which aired earlier this month is now on YouTube complete

Sergio A. Mims forwards:

"Young, Gifted and Classical: The Making of a Maestro" Full BBC Documentary 2016 (YouTube 59:00)

Comments by email:

1) & Chineke! ...  Best wishes  Chi-chi [Chi-chi Nwanoku, MBE]

2) Yes, this was really amazing. Sheku played part of the Haydn’s Concerto in C with Chineke with amazing musicality. We now have a top world class ‘cellist in the making!  Mike  [Michael S. Wright]

YouTube: Lara Downes: "America Again" live at Le Poisson Rouge New York City, with host Skip Dillard Saturday, November 26, 2016

Lara Downes: America Again
Sono Luminus DSL-92207
(Photo: Rik Keller)

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Florence B. Price, Scott Joplin and Duke Ellington are featured at 

Lara Downes and Skip Dillard

Published Nov. 26, 2016

The NYC launch for Lara's solo album "America Again", inspired by Langston Hughes’s poem "Let America Be America Again". 

In conversation with Skip Dillard of WBLS 107.5 FM, Lara discusses the role of the American musician as activist and advocate, especially in a time when the nation is in need of unity and healing, coming together and moving forward. 

“Today, as I write these words, we are living again in troubled times. For too many Americans, circumstance and skin color still keep the promise out of reach, the dream deferred. The hard-won rights and long-sought justice for which our parents and grandparents fought are too easily slipping away. The rifts and rivalries that divide us as a nation seem to run deeper than ever. But still, we dreamers keep dreaming our dream. This music is a tribute to the generations of Americans who dream the impossible: black and white, men and women, immigrants and pioneers. It tells the story of their journeys, their loves and longings, their hardships and their hopes. American music is made of everything we are, coming from so many different people and places, expressing so many different dreams.”
— Lara Downes

Comment by email:
Thank you Bill! It was a beautiful evening. I hope you had a good and restful thanksgiving.  My best  L  [Lara Downes]

AaronAsk: Weekly mentoring for a creative life: "Be Uncomfortable" (YouTube: 3:27)

Aaron P. Dworkin writes:

Greetings and welcome to this week's episode of AaronAsk, your weekly mentoring session to live a fulfilling creative life!  This week's episode is titled, Be Uncomfortable!  Enjoy, we wish you a creative day and see you for next week's session!

Comment by email:
Thanks so much Bill!  Aaron  [Aaron P. Dworkin]

John Malveaux: LA Opera production of Akhnaten Nov. 27 cast J'Nai Bridges as Nefertiti, Patrick Blackwell as Aye, Frederick Ballentine as High Priest of Amon

Patrick Blackwell and John Malveaux

Frederick Ballentine

See one of numerous protest signs

John Malveaux of 

Entered LA Opera production of AKHNATEN at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Nov 27, 2016 after walking past a gentle group of African Americans with protest signs and distributing literature declaring AKHNATEN was a Black African and the opera production distort Black History.  Anthony Roth Costanzo was casted as AKHNATEN. As founder/president of MusicUNTOLD with a mission to promote diversity in arts & education, I understood the basis of the protest but was respectful of LA Opera’s casting. NEFERTITI was J’Nai Bridges (African American), AYE was Patrick Blackwell (African American), HIGH PRIEST OF AMON was Frederick Ballentine (African American), HOREMHAB was Kihun Yoon (South Korea), DAUGHTER (one of six) was So Young Park (South Korea). Although unable to determine the exact number of non-whites in the chorus, I recognized Aleta Braxton (African American). In my personal opinion, the strategy to uplift the image of Africa, African Americans and other non-white groups in opera is shortsighted by protesting the concept of blind casting. Color casting may justify current discriminatory practices and threaten recent casting advancements. See pictures backstage with Patrick Blackwell and Frederick Ballentine holding flowers.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Statement from the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) on the Targeted Shootings of Police Officers

NOBLE President Perry Tarrant

November 22, 2016
Alexandria, VA-NOBLE National President Perry Tarrant released the following statement on the recent spate of police officers shot in the line of duty in several states around the nation:

"This past weekend, the law enforcement community suffered losses in what appears to be targeted shootings against police officers in, San Antonio, Texas, St. Louis, Missouri, Sanibel, Florida, and Gladstone, Kansas. On Sunday four officers were shot, leaving two mortally wounded, bringing the total number of police officer fatalities to 58 for this year.

We are saddened by this news and offer condolences and support to the families and colleagues of the officers lost. We stand in solidarity with local law enforcement agencies across the nation in denouncing these actions. As an organization, NOBLE is committed to the equitable administration of justice in every community in America and violence in any form, whether against citizens or law enforcement officers, cannot be tolerated.

Every day men and woman don uniforms and badges signifying the commitment to protecting our communities, Constitution, and way of life.  Less than one percent of our nation's population fill these roles.  Our nation's finest deserve your support as we continue the commitment towards 21st. Century Policing.  It is important that we speak out collectively against the unprovoked attacks on the guardians of democracy. 

NOBLE will continue to offer its support and expertise as law enforcement agencies investigate these incidents. Moreover, we will continue to work with citizens and the communities we serve to create and maintain mutually beneficial partnerships and promote greater community/police relationships." [End]

About the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives

Since 1976, The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) has served as the conscience of law enforcement by being committed to justice by action. NOBLE represents over 3,000 members internationally, who are primarily African-American chief executive officers of law enforcement agencies at federal, state, county and municipal levels, other law enforcement administrators, and criminal justice practitioners. For more information, visit