Monday, August 27, 2018

Fred Onovwerosuoke: Celebrating George Walker's Music and Life

George Walker (1922-2018)

Dr. Fred Onovwerosuoke

Dr. Fred Onovwerosuoke writes of the passing of George Walker:

Hello folks!

My little input is that George's passing should be no time for us to gripe openly about the lack of play for black composers. Orchestras and other ensembles of art/serious music must pay their overheads and thus often subsist to serve their patrons, whose musical pallets are at best often narrow or limited. Bias for particular/'favorite' composers is nothing new, and not necessarily hinged on race or ethnicity, but often on assuaging the fiscal bottomline. For example, but for Felix Mendelssohn's selfless revivalist efforts, the great J. S. Bach that we revere today would have been only a footnote of music history. Ditto, Igor Stravinsky, whose composing career would have struggled, had he not the operational muscle and financial backing of the Sergei Diaghilev, and on and on... 

Black and other financially endowed philanthropists need to be courted, and, if need be, enlightened about the all-important necessity of supporting the works of black or African descent composers. While there's no verifiable account of Chevalier de Saint-Georges (Joseph Boulogne, 1745-99) complaining about lack of wide play of his music, don't we all wish that some philanthropist (s) extended robust support for the fledgling effort of our young, hard-working Maestro Marlon Daniel to revive the name and works of this contemporary of Mozart! 

Flutist/composer Valerie Coleman's entrepreneurial spirit continues to drive and sustain her works. As the African Musical Arts and African Music Publishers have offered some leverage and visibility to my works and others', and along the way attracted some significant commissions for new works. 

George lived a great life, and I'd rather we all expend our creative energies to celebrate that wonderful life. As our concert series here in St. Louis dedicated much of 2016/17 events to the memory of the late Dominique de Lerma (1928-2015), and 2017/18 to the great Halim El-Dabh (1921-2017), so will be dedicating our 2018/19 season to the life and memory of Maestro George Walker. 

Folks, we live at the precipice of a different kind of Golden Rule - some would surmise, a pseudo-realm where those who control the gold rule. It's a cultural universe where practitioners - artists, presenters, educators, students, etc. - must not only wait for saviors, but wax even more creative knocking at the door of canon. Now, more than ever, black and other ethnic minority composers of classical music can use committed benefactors, philanthropists, and, yes, cultural entrepreneurs...


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