Thursday, February 28, 2019

Schomburg Center First Fridays: Afro-Latino Edition Friday, March 1, 5 PM, NYC

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

First Fridays: Afro-Latino Edition

Friday, March 1 | 5 PM

In honor of Arturo Schomburg's Afro-Latino heritage and commitment to collecting materials that capture the contributions and creativity of the African Diaspora, the Schomburg Center and Afro-Latino Festival NYC are excited to present the "Afro-Latino" Edition of First Fridays.

Harry T. Burleigh Society: Meet Dr. Paul T. Kwami: Professor & Musical Director at Fisk University

Dr. Paul T. Kwami

Meet Dr. Paul T. Kwami:
Professor & Musical Director at
Fisk University

The Fisk Jubilee Singers will perform Harry T. Burleigh's arrangement of "My Lord, What a Mornin'" during Saturday's concert. Dr. Kwami tells us about his impression of the piece. 
One of my favorite things to do is watch and admire the beauty of nature. Some of the things that I admire are beautiful colors and formations of clouds that line the skies at sunrise and at sunset. Harry T. Burleigh’s arrangement of “My Lord, What a Mornin'” reminds me of the amazing beauty of the sky from dawn to day break. While the melody of this spiritual is very simple and beautiful, Burleigh gives it a wonderful treatment by turning it into a great piece of artwork.

He uses vocal combinations, variations in dynamics, expressions, beautiful harmonies, and soothing chord progressions that paint a beautiful picture of night changing into day. This melody is set to the words, ‘My Lord, what a mornin’, a phrase that is repeated three times to start the spiritual. The arrangement allows the altos to sing and establish the melody at the beginning of this arrangement, while the tenors and basses provide a very rich harmonic support. These harmonies sound full because each of the male voice parts is divided into two parts. After the introduction of the melody by the altos, the sopranos join in, taking over the melody, which brightens the music. Then comes a soft interlude that is hummed by all the voices. This is a very gorgeous passage of music and reminds me of a gentle wind blowing and the “singing” of birds occurring as the day breaks.

The music moves into a very robust and slightly louder section where a different melody is introduced. The tenors have their chance to shine as they introduce this new melody that is set to the text, “Done quit all my worl’ly ways, jine dat hebbenly ban.” I love the movement of the soprano line that includes a downward leap of an octave, while the volume of the music reduces from loud to soft, slows down and returns gently to the first melody. The song grows in volume and intensity, reminding me of the appearance of the early morning golden sun. But this beautiful melody that is so wonderfully harmonized returns to quietness. The words of the final phrase read: “When de stars begin to fall.” The chord on the final word is the softest. The stars that light up the sky at night don’t fall literally, but rather disappear as the sun rises.

Oh, what a wonderful arrangement H. T. Burleigh left for us to enjoy! This is definitely one of my favorite spirituals and a very much liked arrangement.

Fisk Jubilee Singers® Sing Harry T. Burleigh Spirituals

March 2nd 2019
Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall
The Harry T. Burleigh Society and the Fisk Jubilee Singers® join in a historic performance celebrating Ella Sheppard (1851–1915), an original Fisk Jubilee Singer, and Harry T. Burleigh (1866–1949), leaders of the concert spiritual tradition. The Fisk Jubilee Singers® will perform the music of these under-heard cultural leaders, and make calls for freedom.
Group ticket sales are now available. Call the Carnegie Group Sales office during normal business hours at (212) 903-9705 or email them at for $25 tickets in groups of 10 or more.

More Than the Promise of the American Myth: Rethinking Burleigh & Sheppard in the Second Gilded Age
March 3rd, 2019 
May Room - Weill Terrace Room, Carnegie Hall
9am - 3pm
The Harry T. Burleigh Society's first academic conference considers Burleigh's and Sheppard's impact on the concert spiritual genre, the historiographic limits of composer biography, Black art music aesthetics, and the liberatory capabilities within the work of Burleigh, Sheppard, and their contemporaries. Dr. Daphne Brooks will deliver the keynote address. Other speakers include Dr. Louise Toppin, baritone Kenneth Overton, Dr. Crystal deGregory and descendants of Burleigh and Sheppard. 

John Malveaux: Feb. 17 reception at Disney Concert Hall honored Adolphus Hailstork

Left to right is Aaron Diehl (guest pianist), Thomas Wilkins (guest conductor), Dale Breidenthal (LA Phil violin), Michele Anderson Esq., (emcee), Adolphus Hailstork (honored composer).  photo credit: Leni Boorstin (Senior Advisor, External Engagement for LA Phil)

John Malveaux of 

MusicUNTOLD presented February 17, 2019 reception in Green Room of Disney Concert Hall honoring living and working composer Adolphus Hailstork following world premiere of STILL HOLDING ON commissioned by Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra for their 100th anniversary season. The matinee concert also  included music of Harlem Renaissance composers Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, and William Grant Still. Please see video of presentations to Dr. Hailstork and video of composer Michael Abels and  Adolphus Hailstork meeting for the first time
Reception credit to Leni Boorstin-Senior Advisor, External Engagement for Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. Also see reception photo.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

David France: Happy 6th Birthday to The Roxbury Youth Orchestra!

David France writes:

Only a dream...I only had a money, no resources..only a dream...but 6 years ago I shared that dream. I realized it couldn't only live inside of me and having NO idea how to make it happen I simply starting sharing it.

I started at Berklee College of Music...literally on the sidewalk with Craig Dwyer and we stopped people whose instrument cases looked like violins, violas, and cellos and said..."If you go to Berklee and you play the probably have another cello somewhere....would you want to donate that extra instrument to a kid in Boston?" and they did....a month later with the help of Boston music students and The Hungry for Music Foundation we had 28 donated instruments.

I then shared this vision with musicians in Boston of how I wanted to create an orchestra that existed to light a positive fire in the lives of kids who couldn't normally afford lessons...and Rhett Price, David Hurtado Gómez, WildSeed SunDay, Josh Knowles, and Aaron Fried caught that vision and said they would teach with me for FREE
A few weeks before launching a principal at a middle school in Roxbury said "none of our kids want to be in your orchestra but we have a space we're not using afterschool that you can use for free" and we had a home to house this dream.
Then we needed kids so after many assembly speeches 60 kids said they were interested, I invited 20 to the program and on the first day 6 years ago today...6 kids showed....and we launched.
6 years later those kids who never touched an instrument have performed over 50 concerts for over 10,000 people. 2 of our alumni are now college graduates, 2 are college seniors, we've had 1 valedictorian, numerous relationships created, and countless lives changed forever...set on a more hopefully trajectory for the future.
None of this would have happened if I kept my dream to myself and if so many of you didn't respond in support to that vision.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Our work has only just begun and we need your help more than ever to see this vision live on in the far future. If you'd like to help make a difference in the lives of our inspired community of musicians in Roxbury I'd graciously ask you to consider becoming one of our monthly patrons. For as little as $2 a month you can help us make this project more sustainable so it can live on as our legacy far into the future.

Make a difference and become a Patron TODAY:

Houston Ebony Opera Guild performs SON OF MAN by Hall Johnson 4 PM March 2

Sergio Mims: Soprano Angel Blue to Sing Violetta in La Traviata at La Scala in March

Angel Blue

Sergio A. Mims writes:

The La Scala Opera House in Milan has announced that soprano Angel Blue will sing the role of Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata in performances on March 12, 14 and 17. She will sub for soprano Sonya Yonchev who has withdrawn from those dates.

This will make Ms. Blue for the first ever that the role of Violetta has been sung by a singer of color.


Colour of Music Festival Honors Pioneering Black Female Composer Florence Price Mar. 27-30

Piano and Voice Recitals * Quartets * 
Chamber Ensemble * Orchestra and Chorus

Colour of Music Festival Orchestra 2019

Colour of Music Festival Honors Pioneering Black Female Composer Florence B. Price March 27-30, 2019/Charleston

2019 Colour of Music Festival Returns to Charleston This Spring March 27-30, 2019
Black Classical Musicians Festival Honors Pioneering Black Female Composer Florence B. Price

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—February 27, 2019 Charleston SC —The Colour of Music Festival announces the seventh annual Colour of Music Festival March 27-30, 2019 at three historic locations in the heart of downtown Charleston showcasing leading black classical artists from France, Britain, Colombia, and the Caribbean and highlighting the musical achievements of lesser known black female composers including Florence B. Price.

Since 2013 the Colour of Music Festival has brought international, national, and regional classically trained black musicians of African descent to share their musical talents, knowledge, and inspiration to Charleston. Since March 2018 the Festival has also traveled across the U.S. to leading collegiate venues and performance halls in Washington DC, Atlanta, Houston, Pittsburgh, and Richmond.

Spring 2019 Colour of Music Festival Highlights
A spotlight on black female composers including pioneer Florence B. Price is a fitting theme for National Women’s History Month and an auspicious evolution of the Festival’s commitment to ensure black female classical performers are both elevated and included in the classical music canon and live performances. 
“Honoring Florence B. Price among other women of color who have contributed significant works but whose compositions are rarely programmed and heard by major American orchestras is classical music’s last glass ceiling which also includes scant percentages of black female conductors and music directors,” said Lee Pringle, Founder and President of the Colour of Music Festival.
Several of Price’s chamber setting works written in 1944 including her Negro Five Folksongs in Counterpoint and String Quartet in G Major will be performed as part of the Festival’s intimate Chamber Music presentations taking place at the Edmondston-Alston House Museum Salon, 21 East Bay Street, Murry Center Salon, 14 George Street, and Burk High Performance Arts Center, 244 President Street in historic downtown Charleston.
Composer Florence B. Price
Florence Beatrice Smith Price (1887-1953) was the first African-American female composer to have a symphonic composition performed by a major American orchestra and is considered the first black woman in the U.S. to be recognized as a symphonic composer. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra performed her Symphony in E Minor in 1933 under the direction of Frederick Stock.
Price struggled to make headway in a culture that defined composers as white, male, and dead. Only in the past couple of decades have Price’s major works begun to receive recordings and performances, and these are still infrequent. Though widely cited as one of the first African-American classical composers to win national attention, she is mentioned more often than heard. Not only did Price fail to enter the canon, a large quantity of her music came perilously close to obliteration until an Illinois couple found her compositions in a run-down house they were about to renovate—a potent symbol of how a country can forget its cultural history.
“The late Margret Bonds, a student of Ms. Price and many living composers including Dominique Le Gendre and Nkeiru N. Okoye, have been presented at the Festivalour spotlight on women as part of National Women’s Month in March makes this year’s festival very special,” said Lee Pringle, President and Artistic Director of the Colour of Music Festival.
Calendar of Events | Colour of Music Festival March 27-30, 2019
Wednesday, March 27
Piano Recital, Karen Walwyn, pianist • 2 p.m.

Chamber Music I 
Colour of Music Virtuosi (all-female chamber orchestra) • 7 p.m.
Anyango Yarbo-Davenport, conductor and soloist

Thursday, March 28
Symposium: Florence B Price Legacy • 2 p.m.
Louse Toppin, Ph.D. presenter

Chamber Music II: Florence B. Price Spotlight • 7 p.m.
Negro Five Folksongs in Counterpoint

Friday, March 29
Vocal Recital, Louise Toppin • 2 p.m.

Chamber Music III: Florence B. Price Spotlight • 7 p.m.
String Quartet in G Major

Saturday, March 30
Organ Recital, Eldred Marshall, organist • 12 p.m.

Masterworks: Florence B. Price Showcase • 7 p.m.
Piano Concerto in D Minor in One Movement
Chelsea Tipton II, conductor; Karen Walwyn, piano

Colour of Music Festival Tickets and Information 
By phone (866) 811-4111
At door: (credit card, cash or check) before each performance
Tickets $15-$45; special K-12 pricing for student groups of 10 or more

About the Colour of Music Festival
Based in Charleston, South Carolina and organized in 2013, the Colour of Music Festival, Inc. presents a diverse classical repertoire of baroque, classical and 20th century music
at the highest  musical standards to diverse audiences throughout the Lowcountry, regionally, and nationally.
The Festival has also presented performances in Washington, DC, Atlanta, GA, Houston, TX, Richmond, VA and Pittsburgh, PA.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019 Bringing the Florence Price Violin Concertos to Life...Er-Gene Kahng

Florence Price Violin Concertos Nos. 1 and 2
Er-Gene Kahng, Violin
Albany Records

February 25, 2019

Back in 2009, not long after I joined the Philharmonic Society of Arlington, that group celebrated its 75th anniversary season. The winner of that year's Young Artists' Competition was violinist Er-Gene Kahng, who performed the Mendelssohn concerto. I made a rare appearance as a violist in that concert, my last before I went back to the first violins for good.

Almost ten years later and 3000 miles to the west, I remembered and met Er-Gene again at her performance of the Florence Price Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Camellia Symphony in Sacramento. Florence Price's two violin concertos were recently rediscovered amidst other forgotten manuscripts by Price in an abandoned house that was once her summer home. Kahng, a Professor at the University of Arkansas, has edited and recorded these concertos in order to bring the work to a wider audience. (Here is a link to her recording of both of Price's violin concertos.)

I caught up with Er-Gene after the concert and we made arrangements to chat via Skype, as she was leaving the next day--to go to London!

Karen: I wanted to talk with you about Florence Price, but I also wanted to talk about your development as a musician. You mentioned that you are from California. What brought you to Arkansas?

Er-Gene: As I was finishing up my doctoral degree at Northwestern, I started applying for jobs. University of Arkansas listed a vacancy for a violin professor. I applied, interviewed and got the job! Sorry the story is not more interesting! :) Growing up in southern California, I didn't know anything about Arkansas, and had never even visited!


Karen: That is really great! I think that is the ideal of how universities are supposed to work. How did you first learn about Florence Price, and how long did it take before you felt ready to perform the Price concertos and record them?

Er-Gene: I first learned about Price at the University of Arkansas' own symposium about her in 2015. With respect to the recordings, I didn't really have the luxury of choosing the timeline. Our contract set a date with the Janacek Philharmonic, who were available in the summer when I had time myself, but who only had a 3-day window to record. There was no choice but to agree to their timeline! Nevertheless, I had about 9 months before that to prepare.

Karen: Where would you place Price in the tradition of violin concertos? Does her music remind you of any other composer?

Er-Gene: This is actually a tricky question, because I believe the paradigm with which we have judged, excluded and included certain composers would not traditionally include Price. We can't properly judge Price's concertos against this tradition.

Karen: That's fair enough. I don't have a lot invested in that paradigm. I haven't studied many violin concertos, myself, other than Bach and Mozart. And at this point I'm primarily a violist.

Er-Gene: It would be easy to say that Price deserves a place . . . up there with the Beethoven Violin Concerto! But even if I felt that way, it's not as simple as persuading people to see the "greatness" of Price against the narrative of greatness they have inherited and been taught since childhood.

"The Life of Charlie Burrell: Breaking the Color Barrier in Classical Music"

The Life of Charlie Burrell:
Breaking the Color Barrier in Classical Music
by Charlie Burrell
Mitch Handelsman

Music historian G. Brown writes:

The "Jackie Robinson" of Classical Music ~ Charlie Burrell
In a precedent-setting career, Burrell excelled in both the classical and jazz musical worlds and broke down racial barriers along the way.
Born in 1920, Burrell grew up in Detroit, Michigan. In the seventh grade, he gravitated to the contrabass, practicing classical music four to eight hours a day while also honing his skills as a jazz player. He developed his abilities at Detroit’s famous Cass Tech High School and had regular jazz gigs once he turned 17. In 1941, Burrell joined the Navy. Stationed at Camp Robert Smalls outside of Chicago, he was selected to join the first-ever all-black Navy band. Following his honorable discharge, he enrolled at Wayne State University, but was told by administrators that he would not find a job teaching music in the public schools. Burrell then moved to Denver and landed a job in 1949 with the Denver Symphony Orchestra (now the Colorado Symphony), making him the first person of color under contract with a major orchestra. In the meantime, he was a regular at jazz clubs in Denver’s historic Five Points neighborhood. When he was 40, Burrell became the first black musician to join the San Francisco Symphony—he was called the Jackie Robinson of classical music—and was one of the first black professors at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Burrell returned to Denver in 1965, rejoined the Denver Symphony and played until retiring with the Colorado Symphony in 1999. Throughout his career, Burrell was the top on-call jazz bassist in Denver, sharing the stage with Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Erroll Garner, Lionel Hampton and many other legends. He mentored countless musicians and groomed his niece, Grammy-winning jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves. He received a Martin Luther King, Jr. humanitarian award in 2015.

San Francisco Symphony video, just released:

Colorado Public Radio talking with Charlie Burrell in 2006:

2015 video feature done by Denver music historian, G. Brown:

Harry T. Burleigh Society: Meet Professor Daphne Brooks: Keynote Speaker

Daphne Brooks

Meet Keynote Speaker
Professor Daphne Brooks

Daphne Brooks is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of African American Studies, Theater Studies, American Studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University.

How did your entry point into black 
feminist sonic archives lead you to 
inquire about Ella Sheppard?

My path to Ella Sheppard started with 
one of her stunning 
contemporaries, black feminist 
journalist, novelist, uplift activist, 
and former-concert soprano, Pauline 
Hopkins. As editor of the Colored 
 American Magazine, Pauline 
Hopkins covered the concerts of the 
Fisk Jubilee Singers, and she 
eventually wrote a serialized 
novel, the lyrical, pan-Africanist epic 
Of One Blood (1902-3) which traced 
the mystic trials and tribulations 
of a fictional Jubilee singer. What 
 intrigued me most about 
Hopkins’ writing was her passion for 
the music made by Ella 
Sheppard and her fellow luminous 
female vocalists who were 
members of the first pioneering 
troupe (women such as Maggie 
Porter, Jennie Jackson, Mabel 
Lewis and America Robinson). 
Hopkins championed the virtuosic 
complexities of these women’s 
performances and their ability to 
move and sway white audiences 
to advocate for black 
enfranchisement in the face of 
post-Reconstruction racial 
backlash. The kinds of questions 
that I’ve been asking of the archive 
have to do with the quotidian 
details of both Hopkins and 
Sheppard’s respective craft. How 
might we imagine the nuances of 
each woman’s aesthetic 
preparation, the rigor of each 
artist's study and training—to 
write, to compose, to sing and 
perform? Can we even imagine 
how many hours went into 
Sheppard’s rehearsals and 
what those rehearsals entailed? 
Can we envision how many 
composition drafts of 
works-in-progress that she 
produced? Can we conjure 
in our minds the ways that 
these women may have sat 
at their desks, their kitchen 
tables, or on the couch in 
their parlors late into the 
night making art to liberate 
a people? The intimate 
artistic life (to borrow an 
important formulation from 
cultural historian Saidiya 
Hartman) of Ella Sheppard’s 
sonic world is something 
that we might ponder as 
we celebrate her enduring 

More Than the Promise 
of the American Myth: 
Rethinking Burleigh 
& Sheppard in the 
Second Gilded Age

March 3rd, 2019  
May Room - Weill Terrace 
Room, Carnegie Hall
9am - 3pm 
The Harry T. Burleigh 
Society's first academic 
conference considers 
Burleigh's and Sheppard's 
impact on the concert 
spiritual genre, the 
historiographic limits of 
composer biography, 
Black art music 
aesthetics, and the 
liberatory capabilities 
within the work of 
Burleigh, Sheppard, 
and their contemporaries. 
Dr. Daphne Brooks 
will deliver the keynote 
address. Other speakers 
include Dr. Louise 
Toppin, baritone 
Kenneth Overton, Dr. 
Crystal deGregory and 
descendants of Burleigh 
and Sheppard. 

Free and open to 
the public. Registration 

Fisk Jubilee Singers® 

Sing Harry T. Burleigh 


March 2nd 2019
Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall
The Harry T. Burleigh Society 
and the Fisk Jubilee 
Singers® join in a 
historic performance 
celebrating Ella Sheppard 
(1851–1915), an original 
Fisk Jubilee Singer, and 
Harry T. Burleigh (1866–
1949), leaders of the 
concert spiritual 
tradition. The Fisk 
Jubilee Singers® will 
perform the music 
of these under-heard 
cultural leaders, and 
make calls for freedom.

Group ticket sales 
are now available. 
Call the Carnegie 
Group Sales office 
during normal business 
hours at (212) 
903-9705 or 
email them at 
groupsales@ for 
$25 tickets in groups 
of 10 or more.

John Malveaux:100th anniversary of UCLA; Frederick M. Roberts

Frederick Madison Roberts

John Malveaux of 

Celebrate 100th anniversary of UCLA and remember Frederick Madison Roberts.

Frederick M. Roberts

Contributed by Robert Fikes

Running in 1918 as a Republican to represent California’s 62nd Assembly District, he defeated a candidate who handed out cards reading “My opponent is a nigger,” and thus became the first black in the state and on the West Coast to ascend to such high political office.  During Roberts’s 16 years in the State Assembly he sponsored legislation to establish the University of California at Los Angeles, expand the use of school textbooks, and he proposed civil rights and anti-lynching measures. 

Pianist Jeremy Jordan and Clarinetist Mark Dover at National Sawdust April 6, Brooklyn, NY

Port Mande is pianist Jeremy Jordan 
and clarinetist Mark Dover

The duo Port Mande – clarinetist Mark Dover and pianist Jeremy Jordan - performs at National Sawdust on Saturday, April 6 at 7 pm. The program features music composed by each of the members of the duo in a range of styles. Mark Dover said, “Our original music runs the gamut from jazz, electronic, hip hop, and neosoul, to definite but veiled touches of contemporary classical.”

Also featured are concert works, including Dover’s arrangement of Schumann’s Dichterliebe as well as a 2017 piece for clarinet and piano by Jonathan Ragonese, commissioned by Dover. Complete program details are below.

Port Mande will perform music with and by guest artists, including soprano Faylotte Crayton and rapper POES. “The evening will have a variety show vibe,” said Dover, “as we announce music from the stage and call up guests to join us.”

Tickets are $25 for general admission and are available at National Sawdust is located at 80 North 6th Street in Brooklyn.

April 6, 2019 at 7:00 pm
Chris Grymes Open G Series at National Sawdust:
Port Mande - Mark Dover and Jeremy Jordan

Selections from the following:
This Is Loss (Mark Dover) 
I Am, Here Now (Dover) 
Lulu’s Dream (Jeremy Jordan)
Soon After (Jordan) 
Lead So I Can Follow (Dover) 
Hip Hop set with rapper POES
Song Without Words #2 (Dover) 
Non Poem 4 (Jonathan Ragonese) 
Dichterliebe No. 1 (Schumann arr. Dover) 
feat Lotte Crayton 
Fish Me A Dream (Jordan) 
Vocalise (Dover) featuring Faylotte Crayton
Let Us Break Bread Together (Traditional) 
Trust Us (Jordan)
Sipping on Schewitz (Dover) 

National Sawdust
80 North 6th St in Brooklyn

Tickets are $25 for general admission, and are available at