Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Harry T. Burleigh Society: Tomorrow: "From Song Came Symphony," Schomburg Center

Join us this Wednesday to hear “From Song Came Symphony.” The program includes William Grant Still’s And They Lynched Him on a Tree. Two artists share their thoughts on the work.

Wednesday, May 8th
Langston Hughes Auditorium
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
515 Malcolm X Blvd.
New York, New York 10037

General Admission: $25
Students/Seniors/Veterans: $15

Lawrence Craig, Narrator

Here I stand with my late mentor and musical father, Dr. William C. Warfield, with whom I lived and studied from the age of 16 to 27. Having developed my talent from seed state, he lovingly referred to me as, "My only blade of grass." I want the audience to know that we owe a great debt to William Grant Still for his courage, foresight and musical genius in so skillfully documenting this segment of American history. In the course of my living and studying with Warfield, he said, "If we don't make it our business to both program and perform music by African American composers, who else will!"

Courtney Carey, Conductor, Founder & Artistic Director, Courtney's Stars of Tomorrow

Still’s And They Lynched Him on a Tree is a piece that I heard about while a student at Morehouse College, but I never studied it until preparing for this concert as chorus master. One of the most striking aspects of the work is Still's style choice. This piece is basically a traditional spiritual! Yes, there are elements of what was then considered "contemporary" compositional technique, but it cannot be disputed that William Grant Still was influenced heavily by the spiritual and used those compositional devices in this piece. I don't think it would have been possible to set this text to music without having included elements of the spiritual. I think it helps keep people anchored in the drama because there is always something "familiar" about the music. The piece veers into very interesting tonalities, but one is always "hooked into the drama" because of the primary compositional device being used: the spiritual.

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