Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Eric Conway: Morgan State University Choir Day 7 of Tour in Spain - Malaga to Córdoba to Seville!

Dr. Eric Conway writes:
Day 7 in Spain - Malaga to Córdoba to Seville!

Hello everyone,  believe it or not, we only have four days left on our tour!  Yesterday, we left Malaga and headed to Córdoba and Seville.  After arriving in Córdoba and getting off the bus, we were met by a huge bridge constructed by the Romans adjacent to Córdoba called “El Puente Romano”.   

The main reason for us to visit Córdoba was to visit one of the largest structures in all of Spain - the Mezquita Catedral de Córdoba, which began as an impressive 10th century Arabian mosque, the third largest in the world!  If you have not yet received my common point in these emails, let me pronounce again. We on this tour have been amazed at how much Muslim culture has influenced Spain.    

Of course, we all know that Spain was part of the Roman Empire during first through fifth centuries.  We did not know that Muslims conquered and occupied Spain from roughly 500 - 1500 AD.  You cannot visit Andalusia, that is southern Spain, without seeing remnants of Muslim culture.  In general, Spain did not destroy Muslim culture.  They appreciated the beauty of the artistry and chose to build around existing Muslim structures.

Today we visited the Cathedral of Cordoba which was a converted Muslim Mosque.  Masses are still held in this structure today.  We were amazed that rather than destroying a conquered culture and erecting from scratch, the Spaniards recycled the structures and made Christian.   The mosque that we visited was first erected in 700 AD, originally with over one thousand columns in the structure, currently with 851 are still standing today.  Inside the Mosque is a addition of an enormous Catholic cathedral - so imagine the size of this structure to house a Cathedral! 

This entire structure is a confluence of so very different styles, it was utterly confusion - but beautiful.  At times one sees Muslim columns, and around the corner, one sees gothic Catholic stained glass.   See photos attached of this incredible structure.  Thousands were flocking to visit daily.  Our dedicated tour guide took no less than two hours to the history of the structure which I will do bore you with now.

After the tour, lunch was on our own.  Once again, we were exploring many type of new foods.  During lunch, I had ox tail (bull meat) for the first time.  It was quite tasty! See photo attached. 

As a professional musician, I have been very impressed with the quality of music heard on the streets from the local musicians.  While waiting outside the Cathedral to go to Seville, I heard a string duo, called Happy Strings, play some delightful tunes which were quite refreshing and relaxing to hear while waiting.  I recorded a few of the tunes on my phone and shared with you via YouTube.  See links below - worth your time to listen.

After we re-assembled, we were on our way to Sevilla, also in the province of Andalusia.   Sevilla, which lies on the Guadalquivir river, was a very important trade city.  In the 15th century, Sevilla was known as the Florence of Spain!  Seville thrived much like Florence during the Renaissance. 

Sevilla is also known for being known as the being the capital of Flamenco.  Although not originally on our itinerary, our guides, arranged for us to see a flamenco show in the city where Flamenco flourishes even today. Please see link below to the finale of the flamenco show seen by all who chose to spend thirty Euros to see the show.  Although we appreciated the footwork of the dancers and wanted to understand and experience a huge part of the Spanish culture, after some of us saw Samba in Brazil, and Tango in Argentina, we were genuinely not as entertained, although this could be that we have not a a moment to catch our breath and rest on this tour since we have arrived.  No complaints, why come to a foreign country to sleep?   

See photos attached. of our day in both Córdoba and Seville and YouTube links of musicians at the Cathedral.


P.S. I included a few of yesterday’s photos from the sand sculpture again.  In trying for you to see the entire display, the photos selected were not close enough to appreciate the detail of the sand sculpture.  Enjoy!

African Musical Arts/IMI: Highly recommended CDs and cultural resources, including "A Celebration of African Composers for Piano," AMP AGCD 2706 (2017)

Newly released CD celebrates some of the African composers whose works have helped to enrich musical arts education in America and globally. Recorded by pianist Peter Henderson at Powell Symphony Hall in St. Louis, Missouri.  ​Click here to order the CD or Click here to securely support our programs with your creditcard. Your tax-deductible donation will help pay to offer free copies of the CD to select schools and libraries across the United States and Africa. Donations by check to the African Musical Arts, 3547 Olive St., Suite 110, St. Louis, MO 63103 USA.



Riding Top-10 on the Gospel Music Charts! 

Our Fredo and African Musical Arts honored to co-produce on new CD, "Stay Connected" by the Choirs of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ. Order CD on Amazon at

Our partnership with Trinity United Church of Christ, former President and Michelle Obama's home church, began shortly following his Presidency and since then has led to several visits by the Music Minister Bryan Johnson and the Voices of Trinity to St. Louis for African Musical Arts events, and in exchange, Fredo & Songs of Africa Ensemble's visits to Chicago. Relations with one of America's largest African American churches has blossomed, forging mutually beneficial partnership to share new forms of choral repertoire for Worship. Stay Connected CD & DVD was a massive production comprised of 100s of singers, musicians and powerful ministry in diverse Gospel Music, Jazz and various selections from around Africa and Brazil. Order your copy now on Amazon at
The African Imagination In Music
Kofi Agawu

Appropriating African Music

by Kofi Agawu

This chapter acknowledges the global presence of African music. It traces this presence through the travels of musicians in the popular sphere and the appropriation of elements of African music in varieties of popular music. It also points to the uses of African or African-derived music in film. The work of avant-garde composers (Fanshawe, Reich and Ligeti, among others) is discussed. The chapter also reflects on the work of African composers of art music. The kinds of understanding and appreciation fostered by art music are touted as important developments in the reception of African music. The chapter comments in closing on two brief works by Joshua Uzoigwe and Fred Onovwerosuoke and suggests that the future of African music will depend on the efforts of composers in this tradition.

Much gratitude to all of you who help us articulate our mission to empower communities through the enriching power of music. Thank you for helping to support children, youth, and audiences in our St. Louis community and beyond. Thank you for supporting a little arts organization in St. Louis doing great things, locally, nationally and globally...

To learn more about what your donation supports visit:
Thank you for your support!


John Malveaux: May 30, 2017 attended 90th birthday celebration for history maker (jazz & blues trumpeter) Clora Bryant, organized by her sons, in Los Angeles

Clora Bryant  & John Malveaux

Clora Dizzy CD

Clora Bryant & Shelia Gonzales

 Clora Bryant Singing

Clora Bryant's 90th Birthday Cake
John Malveaux of 

May 30, 2017 attended 90th birthday celebration for history maker (jazz & blues trumpeter) Clora Bryant, organized by her sons, in Los Angeles. See bio I was pleasantly surprised after giving Clora a bag with some women moisturizing products, Clora reciprocated with a 2004 CD titled "TRUMPETISTICALLY SWINGING To Dizzy With Love Clora" See pic 1 and 2. Also see pic 3 Clora & Shelia Gonzales (Grammy winning multi-instrumentalist and music educator). Shelia performed at Kennedy Center when Clora Bryant was honored at the Kennedy Center with the 2002 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival Award.  Due to 1996 heart attack and subsequent quadruple bypass surgery, Clora Bryant  is unable to play the trumpet but she continue to sing. See pic 4 Clora singing during her party. The large birthday cake pictured Clora with her trumpet-see pic 5.

Imani Winds Friday, June 2, 7pm Mannes School of Music, New York, NY: Suggested Donation $10; Kickoff to the 7th Annual Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival

Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival is an intense 10 day summer program devoted to performance excellence and career development. Over 50 participants will be apart of the 2017 Festival, which is once again held at the Mannes School of Music at The New School, the official partner of the IWCMF.

Highlights include daily coachings with Imani Winds, masterclasses, performances and seminars by Paquito D'Rivera, JP Jofre, Jennifer Grim, Robert Botti, Erik Ralske, William Short, Alan Kay, Eric Ewazen, Cliff Colnot, Tania Leon, Charlotte Tomlinson and many more!

Check out the festival website for the complete schedule of events.

You Make The Difference!

The Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival is able to flourish because of generous support from YOU. Please consider a tax deductible donation of any amount, to help further our mission. Your contribution directly provides festival participants the much needed scholarship that enables them to attend.  
You may make a TAX-DEDUCTIBLE contribution in two ways:
-    Online via credit or debit card, through our non-profit fiscal sponsor: The Field
-    Via personal check, payable to THE FIELD (memo Imani Winds) sent to:

Imani Winds, 123 West 128th Street, New York, NY 10027

 Thank you!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

David France: 3nd annual Aspire Young Professionals Party! Gala for The Roxbury Youth Orchestra, co-sponsored in part by WeWork St. James st.

David France

You're invited to the 3nd annual Aspire Young Professionals Party!!  Fundraising Gala supporting The Roxbury Youth Orchestra.  This year's event is being co-sponsored in part by WeWork St. James st.
Come and have enjoy an evening with a dynamic group in a fun atmosphere of music, drinks, and food while supporting the Roxbury Youth Orchestra. 
If you are unable to attend you can still give a gift to support our youth!

For the JOY of the next generation,
-David France

Eric Conway: We packed up our bags once again to tour yet another Spanish city, Malaga, Spain, prior to concert in a neighboring city, Coin, Spain

Dr. Eric Conway of Morgan State University Choir writes:

Day 6 in Spain,

As it appears that we are seeing as much of Spain as one could possibly see in nine days or so. We packed up our bags once again to tour yet another Spanish city, Malaga, Spain, prior to concert in a neighboring city, Coin, Spain.

On the way to Malaga, we stopped at a Mediterranean resort community called Torremolinos to see yet another face of Spain.  After a two hour drive to the town, we walked several blocks to the beach from the center of town.  Many of us commented that the place felt like our own Ocean City, MD.  However, I guess one beach community looks like another.  We were pleased that despite the fact that we were going more South in the country, the temperatures were becoming more moderate and comfortable.

We were walking ultimately for a group lunch at a restaurant on the beach.  Any meal on the beach, makes the food go down better!  This restaurant as you will see, had many new foods that we all tried and some even ate and enjoyed!  The typical Spanish meal began with a salad of which the only choice for dressing was olive oil and vinegar which you poured on your salad separately, rather then coming out of bottle premixed.  Many Americans eat sardines from a can, however, how many have never eaten fresh sardines that are roasted over fire!  We then had a plate of two other types of fish, smelts and cod, lightly battered and fried.  Most were content for that to be the last course, however, the courses kept on coming.   The waiters then brought out another typical dish from the Andalucian region, - paella with many different types of fish mixed in the rice which was quite tasty.  We finished the meal with ice cream.  Many Americans or persons who do not regularly travel are reluctant to try new foods, however, I believe: what is the point of traveling if you cannot taste the culture?  Unfortunately, despite my encouragement to the choir to try new foods, there was some trepidation regarding trying new foods, especially in a foreign country.  Unfortunately, I believe there was much food wasted on the anxious American students, but in Español  “Así Es La Vida”  - that’s life!

One of the highlights for us was a sand sculpture showing the faces of every person in the European Union - including our Great Britain and United States in Donald J. Trump.  The figures are incredibly lifelike.  Due to wind and rain the artist, must tidy up daily to remain in tact.  The artist stays in place to collect in donations from tourists.  As the chair of Fine Arts at Morgan, I appreciated the work as fine as any piece of three dimentional sculpture I had every seen.  The entire sand display is a political statement on the disaffection with the ecomony in Spain after the European Union institutated the Euro as the common currency of Europe.  After the Euro was in effect, the economies of the southen European countries became much weaker.  One will notice the face of Angela Merkel in the center of the array of leaders whose face has been altered via Photoshop to show the anger of the Spanish people.  

We then drove an additional thirty minutes to Malaga, the sixth largest city in Spain, and the southernmost large city in all of Europe!  Malaga was founded in 1500 - 539 - BC making it one of the oldest cities in Europe founded by the Phoenicians!  The Phoenicians to Spain is similar to Europe to the United States in culture that travelled from their own country to explore new land, settle and conquer.  

I was very surprised to see the parent of one of the choir members from the Prince Georges county meet us at the hotel in Malaga.  She made a vacation in Europe around our trip to Spain. In all of our years, we have never had a parent go so far to hear their child sing a concert!  She was excited to meet up with the group and especially her daughter!

Malaga has the distinction being the birthplace of the well know artist Pablo Picasso and the current actor Antonio Banderas.   After the Phoenicians, the Romans occupied Malaga, and then the Muslims.  Most of us think of the Middle East when we think of Muslim territory, but we all were intrigued that much of Spain was inhabited by Muslims for eight hundred years!  The Muslims hey-day in Southern Europe approximately mirrored the Middle Ages in Europe, had a huge Empire in Southern Europe during that time. 

As an aside, currently, Muslims are returning to Spain, making large families at an alarming rate, possibly to regain majority rule in about a hundred years or so!  This concerns the Spanish people greatly, as their families are much smaller. We only had a few moments to try to see Malaga, but we appreciated the history as many very old structures, from over two thousand years are still standing.

We then traveled to Coin, Spain the site of our concert - the Parroquia San Juan Bautista church.  This church is the main church in the community, with a very old building (as is everything practically in Spain compared to America.  The most difficult part of the trip to the church was the very steep incline to get to the church, perhaps at a 45 degree angle, which challenged the best athlete in the group.

This concert like the first concert where we shared the program with a local choir - Coral Alminares de Nerja.  This choir was larger that the Madrid choir, numbering 45, at least twenty years older.  Once again, the format was for the local choir to open up, the Morgan choir then sing the principal set, followed by a joint section.  We first thought that they might not be as strong as the first choir, but immediately found our impression to be incorrect, as they sang quite well and intentional.

Like the first church concert, this was a free event.  As mentioned earlier, often concerts in smaller areas are much better attended because of the limited cultural activities available.  The concert in Coin, was the best attended concert thus far with over five hundred in attendance.  There were so many in attendance, that at least an additional 75 chairs had to be placed beside the pews in the church.  

The church priest was quite welcoming, and made everyone feel at home.  This particular large space, had a sound system superior to the first which resulted in a much better presentation.  Although the theatre venue had a much more pristine and pure sound for the choir, the audience was much more formal and staid in their reception of the choir, although very much appreciated.  This return to a church, was received as well if not better than the first concert.  We typically sell CDs and DVDs at our concerts, and we ran out at this concert. Once again, this concert was received much like we the first two, so enthusiastically, that an outside might think our concert was pseudo cult-like!

See photos attached sharing the experience of the day!


Monday, May 29, 2017

Fela Sowande, "Father of Nigerian Art Music," was a composer, organist and professor who was born in Oyo, Nigeria May 29, 1905 and died in the U.S.A. in 1987

Alan Ashton provides this photo, captioned "Fela Sowandie," from the "1946 Theatre Organ World publication"

The Nigerian organist and composer Fela Sowande, considered the Father of Nigerian Art Music by the authior Bode Omojola, Ph.D.,  was born May 29, 1905 in Oyo, Nigeria.  He died in Ravenna, Ohio, in the United States, in 1987.  His web page at is

John Malveaux: June 1, 2018 will mark the 50th anniversary of Henry Lewis appointment as music director of New Jersey Symphony

Henry Lewis

John Malveaux of 

June 1, 2018 will mark the 50th anniversary of Henry Lewis appointment as music director of New Jersey Symphony.
“Under Music Director Henry Lewis (1968–76)—the first African-American music director of a major symphony orchestra—the NJSO entered a new era of high-profile musical activity. The Orchestra made its Carnegie Hall debut with famous soprano (and Lewis’ wife) Marilyn Horne, who became a regular guest with the Orchestra during the Lewis years, as soloist; performed three outdoor concerts led by Lewis in 1968 in a vacant lot on Prince St.—the site of the 1967 Newark Riots—and one in Untermann Field that Lewis dedicated to the memory of Martin Luther King; and gave a concert at Garden State Arts Center with Luciano Pavarotti. The Orchestra would perform with Pavarotti again in 1984, in the first classical music program ever performed at Madison Square Garden.
Henry Lewis was born in Los Angeles and he first made history with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. See
The movie and television industry has retold the slave narrative, covered the courage and skills of sports heroes, the lives of pop artists, and more recently women mathematicians. One day but probably after my expiration, the Henry Lewis story will hit the big screen.