Saturday, July 8, 2017

John Malveaux: Henry Lewis was the first African American conductor to transform an orchestra, but Rudolph Dunbar of Guyana conducted the London Symphony in 1942

Rudolph Dunbar

John Malveaux of 

Who is to blame:

Henry Lewis served as assistant conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta from 1961-65. The tenure of Maestro Mehta remains the most productive period for African Americans in the history of the renowned orchestra. Although the current director has a glowing record of diversity, I don’t think he has ever programmed a single composition by a person of African descent or developed a concert program specifically targeting the African American community. I will be happy to learn different.

Henry Lewis was named Music Director of the New Jersey Symphony in 1968, the year Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed with court admitted complicity from the United States Government. 

As we approach the 50th anniversary of Henry Lewis becoming the first African American conductor to transform a small community ensemble into a nationally recognized orchestra, let us remember Caribbean conductor Rudolph Dunbar. Maestro Rudolph Dunbar was the first person of African descent to conduct the London Symphony in 1942. See

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