Monday, August 19, 2019

Music Kitchen "Forgotten Voices" JULY Premiere #7 with Jon Grier

Kelly Hall-Tompkins writes:

It continues to be a busy and exciting summer with Music Kitchen's Forgotten Voices.  Since our June newsletter, we actually have not one, but four concerts to share!  More on that later- For now, let's catch up on our July premiere.
I am just so excited about every single composer on this project for the unique voice they bring.  I am doubly excited about this month's composer to be able to feature from my hometown one of my heroes who had such a pivotal role during my high school days in shaping the musician I am today.  Together with chamber music teacher Lenny Schranze, Jon was composer in residence at my beloved and illustrious Fine Arts Center High School in Greenville, South Carolina; he expanded my view of the world with a thousand years of AP Music History and made it come alive in ways that still inspire me today.  I am so glad I had a chance to learn and perform Jon's music in high school because I have enjoyed bringing it along with me at various points in my professional life and I am just thrilled to feature him in the Music Kitchen Forgotten Voices project today.
Every month brings a wonderful new facet to this unique crystal- I can't wait for you to hear these pieces!  As always, if you wish to support Music Kitchen and the Forgotten Voices project, please click here:
Warmest Regards,

Music Kitchen Photos by Gregory Routt

Premiere #7: July

Composer Highlight: Jon Grier

Enjoying a coffee in Budapest

Chosen Text:
"Slipping out drop, drop.  You move me like a puppet and her master.  If I belong to anything I’m glad it is this.  You have a way of taking my troubles.  My poison and turning it into medicine.  What kind of man can be still when you play?
I want to marvel at something.
I want to let my body speak for me.
Being swept up like a child on the floor
I don’t need saving, but still want to be held.  I want to be enraptured by the worlds ruin.  I want to get lost in the madness that is adventure.  I want to steal a piece of excitement for myself. Save it in my jewelry box and pull it out in my years of despair." M.M.


Jon Jeffrey Grier holds a D.M.A. in Composition from the University of South Carolina and since 1988 has been Instructor of Music Theory, Music History, and Composer in Residence at the Greenville Fine Arts Center, where he was voted Teacher of the Year for 1994-95, 2004-05, and 2012-2013. Jon composes frequently for student and faculty performers at the FAC, usually when he should really be grading papers. 

Jon was the 2009 winner of the Rapido! Composition Contest sponsored by the Atlanta Chamber Players and in 2004-05 he received a fellowship from the Surdna Foundation. He has received grants and commissions from the South Carolina Arts Commission, the Greenville County Youth Orchestra, the Michigan Music Teachers Association, the American Composers Forum, and the Alliance for Quality Education; his works have been performed by the Kandinsky Trio, the Ceruti Quartet, the Aurelia Trio, the Ritz Chamber Players, Sounds New, Conversant, and the Greenville Symphony, to name a few. Jon has also been a writer/keyboardist with various jazz ensembles in Greenville since 1984. He lives in Greenville with wife Marion and manic mongrels Roxanne and Gracie Jean.

“Forgotten Voices” Premiere #7 with Jon Grier

"Save It In My jewelry Box”

Mozart String Quartet K. 575

Allison Charney, soprano
Kelly Hall-Tompkins, violin
Charlene Bishop, violin
Sarah Adams, viola
Peter Seidenberg, cello

AaronAsk: Weekly mentoring for a creative life: YOLO!

Aaron P. Dworkin writes:

Greetings and welcome to this week's episode of AaronAsk, your weekly mentoring session to live a fulfilling creative life!  This week's episode is titled, YOLO!  Enjoy, we wish you a creative day and see you for next week's session!

Sunday, August 18, 2019 James P. Johnson's Harlem Symphony, Part 3

James P. Johnson

Jeffrey James writes:

Kyle Gann's analysis of the third movement of James P. Johnson's Harlem Symphony is online at: Black Americans have fought to make [our founding ideals] true

Artwork by Adam Pendleton

August 18, 2019

The 1619 Project

Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true.

My dad always flew an American flag in our front yard. The blue paint on our two-story house was perennially chipping; the fence, or the rail by the stairs, or the front door, existed in a perpetual state of disrepair, but that flag always flew pristine. Our corner lot, which had been redlined by the federal government, was along the river that divided the black side from the white side of our Iowa town. At the edge of our lawn, high on an aluminum pole, soared the flag, which my dad would replace as soon as it showed the slightest tatter.

My dad was born into a family of sharecroppers on a white plantation in Greenwood, Miss., where black people bent over cotton from can’t-see-in-the-morning to can’t-see-at-night, just as their enslaved ancestors had done not long before. The Mississippi of my dad’s youth was an apartheid state that subjugated its near-majority black population through breathtaking acts of violence. White residents in Mississippi lynched more black people than those in any other state in the country, and the white people in my dad’s home county lynched more black residents than those in any other county in Mississippi, often for such “crimes” as entering a room occupied by white women, bumping into a white girl or trying to start a sharecroppers union. My dad’s mother, like all the black people in Greenwood, could not vote, use the public library or find work other than toiling in the cotton fields or toiling in white people’s houses. So in the 1940s, she packed up her few belongings and her three small children and joined the flood of black Southerners fleeing North. She got off the Illinois Central Railroad in Waterloo, Iowa, only to have her hopes of the mythical Promised Land shattered when she learned that Jim Crow did not end at the Mason-Dixon line.

Grandmama, as we called her, found a house in a segregated black neighborhood on the city’s east side and then found the work that was considered black women’s work no matter where black women lived — cleaning white people’s houses. Dad, too, struggled to find promise in this land. In 1962, at age 17, he signed up for the Army. Like many young men, he joined in hopes of escaping poverty. But he went into the military for another reason as well, a reason common to black men: Dad hoped that if he served his country, his country might finally treat him as an American.

The Army did not end up being his way out. He was passed over for opportunities, his ambition stunted. He would be discharged under murky circumstances and then labor in a series of service jobs for the rest of his life. Like all the black men and women in my family, he believed in hard work, but like all the black men and women in my family, no matter how hard he worked, he never got ahead.

So when I was young, that flag outside our home never made sense to me. How could this black man, having seen firsthand the way his country abused black Americans, how it refused to treat us as full citizens, proudly fly its banner? I didn’t understand his patriotism. It deeply embarrassed me.

I had been taught, in school, through cultural osmosis, that the flag wasn’t really ours, that our history as a people began with enslavement and that we had contributed little to this great nation. It seemed that the closest thing black Americans could have to cultural pride was to be found in our vague connection to Africa, a place we had never been. That my dad felt so much honor in being an American felt like a marker of his degradation, his acceptance of our subordination.

Like most young people, I thought I understood so much, when in fact I understood so little. My father knew exactly what he was doing when he raised that flag. He knew that our people’s contributions to building the richest and most powerful nation in the world were indelible, that the United States simply would not exist without us.

In August 1619, just 12 years after the English settled Jamestown, Va., one year before the Puritans landed at Plymouth Rock and some 157 years before the English colonists even decided they wanted to form their own country, the Jamestown colonists bought 20 to 30 enslaved Africans from English pirates. The pirates had stolen them from a Portuguese slave ship that had forcibly taken them from what is now the country of Angola. Those men and women who came ashore on that August day were the beginning of American slavery. They were among the 12.5 million Africans who would be kidnapped from their homes and brought in chains across the Atlantic Ocean in the largest forced migration in human history until the Second World War. Almost two million did not survive the grueling journey, known as the Middle Passage.

Before the abolishment of the international slave trade, 400,000 enslaved Africans would be sold into America. Those individuals and their descendants transformed the lands to which they’d been brought into some of the most successful colonies in the British Empire. Through backbreaking labor, they cleared the land across the Southeast. They taught the colonists to grow rice. They grew and picked the cotton that at the height of slavery was the nation’s most valuable commodity, accounting for half of all American exports and 66 percent of the world’s supply. They built the plantations of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, sprawling properties that today attract thousands of visitors from across the globe captivated by the history of the world’s greatest democracy. They laid the foundations of the White House and the Capitol, even placing with their unfree hands the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol dome. They lugged the heavy wooden tracks of the railroads that crisscrossed the South and that helped take the cotton they picked to the Northern textile mills, fueling the Industrial Revolution. They built vast fortunes for white people North and South — at one time, the second-richest man in the nation was a Rhode Island “slave trader.” Profits from black people’s stolen labor helped the young nation pay off its war debts and financed some of our most prestigious universities. It was the relentless buying, selling, insuring and financing of their bodies and the products of their labor that made Wall Street a thriving banking, insurance and trading sector and New York City the financial capital of the world.

But it would be historically inaccurate to reduce the contributions of black people to the vast material wealth created by our bondage. Black Americans have also been, and continue to be, foundational to the idea of American freedom. More than any other group in this country’s history, we have served, generation after generation, in an overlooked but vital role: It is we who have been the perfecters of this democracy.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Sergio Mims: Creative Hunger with Stewart Goodyear

Sergio A. Mims writes:

The classical music musicians magazine Final Note has just recently posted an interview with the acclaimed pianist and composer Stewart Goodyear in which he talks about his early interest in classical music as a young child, his career, his compositions (including Callaloo which was just recently released on the Orchid Classics) and working with the Chineke! Orchestra. 

Final Note Magazine

August 2019

Interview and photos by
Frances Marshall

Described as ‘one of the greatest pianists of his generation’, Stewart Goodyear met with Final Note Magazine to talk about his path into classical music and how to safeguard the future of the industry.

Tell us about your first experiences with music.

I felt like music was my life from the very beginning…It was what made my heart beat. My father died of cancer a month before I was born, and I knew him through his record collection that I was constantly going through. His collection consisted of records of The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd…and two box sets of complete symphonies by Beethoven and Tchaikovsky.

What brought you into the world of classical music?

The first moment I heard those box sets, something electric sparked within me. To me, classical music was freedom of expression, and limitless creativity…a music that inspired so many different interpretations and responses. Being a painfully shy person as a little boy, it was through this music that first gave me the hunger to communicate and share my feelings with friends, relatives, and eventually with audiences and new listeners. I was 3 years old when I decided that I had to be a classical musician. There was no other choice for me.

You’ve performed with many of the world’s finest orchestras, what is the secret to achieving the optimum collaboration with an ensemble?

Keeping that hunger to communicate. I love collaborating with artists, and every ensemble that I have the honour of working with breathes new life within me. Every rehearsal, performance and recording is a learning and deeply inspiring experience, and makes every moment forever new and exciting. When I work with a conductor and all the members of an orchestra, I feel like we are collectively feeding off each other, and sharing our personal thoughts, philosophies and feelings through the power of musical interpretation.

You frequently work with the renowned Chineke! Orchestra, tell us more about your work with this group.

We first worked together last summer, performing at Queen Elizabeth Hall, and then recording Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and my suite for piano and orchestra, “Callaloo”. A year later, we toured these two pieces in seven cities in the UK. Every moment working with these wonderful musicians was an immense joy, and getting to hang out with them was a blast! I have great memories of riding together to different cities on our tour, talking about our lives and our start as musicians, toasting life with a pint of beer, and revelling in the feeling of camaraderie and support.

When and why did you begin your work as a composer?

To me, composing music was inseparable to interpreting other composers’ music. I have always been enthralled by how each composer shares their own personal voice with the listener, and have wanted to do the same. I was 8 years old when I first started composing…I went to a choir school in Toronto, and my first compositions were motets for my choir to sing. I wanted to devour every orchestral score there was, learning about timbres and colours, and write for orchestra…..that was my dream! 

Jarrod Lee: Met Opera: Porgy and Bess Sept. 23–Feb. 1

Jarrod Lee writes:

I wanted to share this with you as I am so happy to be a part of this ensemble of fellow artists.

Attached are the pics from the facebook page, and the photographer's name is listed below in the paragraph.  Link:*F 

This is the paragraph from the Met's facebook page:
With only 41 days left until the Gershwins’ American masterpiece Porgy and Bess opens the 2019–20 season, an outstanding ensemble of artists has been busy rehearsing with the Met’s celebrated chorus master, Donald Palumbo. James Robinson’s vivid new production emphasizes the intricate workings of the opera’s tight-knit community—Catfish Row on the Charleston seaside. Don’t miss Porgy and Bess on stage September 23–February 1. 

Buy Tickets:

Photo by Jonathan Tichler / Met Opera
 — with Met Opera Chorus.


Friday, August 16, 2019

The Harlem Chamber Players' Upcoming 2019-20 Season

The first concert of our 12th anniversary season will feature Tchaikovsky grand string sextet Souvenir de Florence, Beethoven’s Sextet for 2 horns and strings, and Britten’s Phantasy Quartet for oboe and strings. This concert will feature violinists Joyce Hammann and Claire Chan, violists Amadi Azikiwe and Aundrey Mitchell, cellists Robert Burkhart and Caryl Paisner, French hornists Eric Davis and William de Vos, and oboist Hassan Anderson. Harlem historian and author Eric K. Washington will host. This concert will take place at Broadway Presbyterian Church at 601 West 114th Street (on Broadway).

Members of The Harlem Chamber Players will return to Goddard Riverside's Bernie Wohl Center for an intimate afternoon chamber music concert. This concert features Chevalier de Saint-Georges’ Sonata for flute and harp, the Debussy Sonata for flute, viola and harp, Miguel del Águila’s Submerged for flute, viola and harp, and the Schubert “Cello” Quintet in C Major. Harpist Ashley Jackson, violist Amadi Azikiwe, flutist Julietta Curenton, violinists Joyce Hammann and Claire Chan, and cellists Robert Burkhart and Caryl Paisner will perform. This concert will take place in the Bernie Wohl Center at Goddard Riverside Community Center as part of their Community Arts Programs at 647 Columbus Avenue at 91st Street.

"The final aim and reason of all music is nothing other than the glorification of God and the refreshment of the spirit." - J.S. Bach

The “Harlem Bach Project” continues with an evening of beautiful concertos and arias by the master J.S. Bach. Met Opera soprano Brandie Sutton and mezzo-soprano Lucia Bradford will sing selected arias. Flutist Julietta Curenton and violinist Ashley Horne will be featured soloists for the Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major. Violinists Claire Chan, Suzanne Gilman, and Chala Yancy will perform the Triple Violin Concerto. The soloists will be accompanied by a chamber orchestra comprised of members of The Harlem Chamber Players. This concert will take place at Broadway Presbyterian Church at 601 West 114th Street (on Broadway).

The Harlem Chamber Players' 12th Annual Black History Month Celebration will take place at The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in tribute to the Harlem Renaissance Centennial (#HarlemRen100). WQXR's Terrance McKnight will host and perform with members of The Harlem Chamber Players. This concert also features special guest artists, virtuoso pianist, conductor and arranger Joseph Joubert and soprano Renay Peters Joubert. This concert is FREE and open to the public. (RSVP is required, and registration will open two weeks prior to the event.) This concert will take place in the Langston Hughes Auditorium at the Schomburg Center at 515 Malcolm X Boulevard (Lenox Ave. & 135th Street).

Members of The Harlem Chamber Players will perform a joint Spring Concert with students from the Opus 118 Harlem School of Music. They are taught by the legendary string teacher Roberta Guaspari, who is featured in the Academy Award nominated documentary Small Wonders and portrayed by Meryl Streep in the film Music of the Heart. This concert will be FREE and open to the public. Please RSVP. This concert will take place at St. Mary's Episcopal Church at 521 West 126th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue.

Harlem Stage will present the members of The Harlem Chamber Players and Talea Ensemble in a joint performance of the work Femenine by the late minimalist composer Julius Eastman. This concert will take place at Harlem Stage at 150 Convent Avenue (on 135th Street east of Amsterdam Avenue.)

The Harlem Chamber Players and the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine will jointly present R. Nathaniel Dett’s colossal oratorio entitled The Ordering of Moses for soloists with full orchestra, organ, and a 100-member choir featuring Chorale Le Chateau, organ, and orchestra as part of the 2-year Harlem-wide celebration of the Harlem Renaissance Centennial (#HarlemRen100)

This concert will be led by IMG artist, conductor/composer Damien Sneed. The soloists will be Met Opera soprano Brandie Sutton, alto Raehann Bryce-Davis, tenor Gregory Hopkins of Harlem Opera Theater, and Met Opera baritone Justin Austin. Terrance McKnight of WQXR will host. This event will take place at the Cathedral Church at 1047 Amsterdam Avenue at 112th Street.

Starting this 2019-20 Season, The Harlem Chamber Players will be Artists-in-Residence at the Harlem School of the Arts. Stay tuned as we announce programs as part of this residency. Click here to view our Summer 2019 newsletter. Please visit our website and sign up for our email list to get announcements about our concerts and other news. We hope you will join us this season!

Thank you to all who have supported us in the past.
Donations of any amount are much appreciated.

You may also donate by check:
The Harlem Chamber Players, Inc.
191 Claremont Avenue #25
New York, NY 10027

IMI: Presenting Volley NCHABELENG in the 2019/20 Season



Some instruments Volley will use with youth groups in his Sonic Safari workshops, residencies and concerts

Volley Nchabeleng, South African traditional music exponent, in residency February 3-22, 2020 with the Intercultural Music Initiative in St. Louis Missouri USA. (Video excerpt from a 1-man show and in concert with Ghanaian-American pianist William Chapman Nyaho

Volley Nchabeleng, South African traditional music exponent, in residency February 3-22, 2020 with the Intercultural Music Initiative in St. Louis Missouri USA. (Fusing West African and South Africa griot - minstrelsy - traditions) 

To book Volley NCHABELENG for workshop/concert during the residency period, please call 314-652-6800    

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Sergio Mims: Chineke! Orchestra to Make Concertgebouw Amsterdam Debut in Nov.

Kevin John Edusei

Sergio A. Mims writes:

Here is some exciting news. The Chineke! Orchestra has announced that it will make its debut at the legendary and historic Concertgebouw Amsterdam concert hall on Thursday Nov 14.

The concert will feature:

Beethoven: Coriolan Overture
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Violin Concerto in G minor
Brahms: Symphony No. 2

The concert will be conducted by Kevin John Edusei with violinist Elena Urioste as the soloist in the Coleridge-Taylor concerto.

For more information go here:

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Decus Ensemble at The African Concert Series, 27th August, 7:30 PM, London

Decus Ensemble, Sutton House 
(c.Richard Duebel)

The African Concert Series presents the Decus Ensemble on Tuesday, 27th August, 7.30pm at St Stephen Wallbrook, London EC4N, who will perform String Quartets by African composers.
The programme features:
Godwin Sadoh (Nigeria) – Egba Musical Totem for String Quartet
Akin Euba (Nigeria) - String Quartet
Bongani Ndodana-Breen (South Africa) – Apologia in Umzimvubu  

Decus Ensemble was founded in 2018 by London -based Nigerian oboist Uchenna Ngwe. The ensemble specialises in "uncovering hidden gems of chamber music", exploring the music and histories of Black Caribbean and African classical composers . 

The performers on the evening will be: 
Violins: Tania Passendji, Hazel Correa.
Viola: Clifton Harrison Cello: Samara Ginsberg

The concert is part of The African Concert Series curated by Nigerian-Romanian pianist Rebeca Omordia in partnership with The Institute of Art & Music AMI5.
Media partners: Colourful Radio, Fourchiefs Media

Charleston Gospel Choir Auditions: Aug 20 and 27

Charleston SC August 14, 2019 –The Charleston Gospel Choir is seeking new volunteer members for its 2019-2020 season.

The Gospel Choir will hold a voice assessment Tuesday, August 20 and Tuesday, August 27, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. each evening at Second Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, 342 Meeting Street, downtown Charleston.

Volunteers are asked to prepare a solo of their choosing and vocalize in a choral setting.

The Charleston Gospel Choir is a 75-voice gospel group that performs a holiday concert, an annual spring performance and other events in the tri-county area and beyond.

For more information; 

Sergio Mims: OperaWire Interview with Jeanine De Bique

Jeanine De Bique
(Marco Borggreve)

Sergio A. Mims writes:

OperaWire has just posted an interview with soprano Jeanine De Bique about her recent debut at the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center in New York, her career, the obstacles that she still faces and her optimism on her future.

Q & A: Soprano Jeanine De Bique on Her Mostly Mozart Debut, Her Journey as a Singer, and the Importance of Serving Others

De Bique’s heart is not only filled with a love for music, but also with a passion for justice and inclusion. Her charity work is as much a part of who she is as her singing. OperaWire recently connected with the soprano to get her thoughts on her Mostly Mozart debut, learn about her path from Trinidad to the great opera houses of the world, and learn more about her charity work.

OperaWire: How special is this Mostly Mozart debut for you?

Jeanine De Bique: Sharing the stage with a world-renowned conductor and equally famous orchestra in this Mostly Mozart debut is such an extraordinary opportunity. Further I am honored to be invited to perform on one of the most important stages in the world and to stand in the same spot where my idols and great performers have stood and will stand after me. This is incredible.

This is the city where I began my professional training in this craft and I am truly excited that universe has aligned itself to allow me to be here. I hope to make all the persons, both at home, Europe and in the United States, duly proud.

OW: Tell me about the repertoire you selected. You seem to be a Handel fan. What draws you to his music?

JDB: These three Handel arias each show brilliantly a different side of Handel’s creative and expressive writing and I chose these arias specifically because each portrays different aspects of my personality. I thought, this is a really nice and short personal insight for the audience to have some idea who Jeanine De Bique is. Not easy by any means, but I love the challenge that the arias bring.

Actually, working with them has taught me more about my instrument and of the technical skill needed to perform them, not only in the Baroque style but in other periods of classical music as well. Handel’s music allows me the freedom to create. I see a white canvas on which I am able to paint with many different colors of my voice. As I get a stronger connection to, and understanding of my instrument I gain more colors and I can make different brush strokes from my palate. My attraction to his music also comes from my study of the historical and cultural contexts in which the music developed.

At school, I studied European history. I dreamt of visiting old abbeys, ruins and churches in England where early music began, and read of the countries of the Ottoman Empire, and of great palaces of Kings, Queens and Tsars that commissioned musical works of composers for example in France and Austria. This connection to European history and my knowledge and interest in it is one of the many reasons my desire and taste for the music of the period expanded.

The first time I sung with a Basso Continuo in rehearsal, I was completely mesmerized by the experience. There is in inescapable bond that is formed between the way the instruments sing, feel and express with you in their playfulness and great conversation between voice and orchestra.

I’ve sung Monteverdi, Purcell and Jommelli operas but it was in my work on Handel that I was introduced to this unique and thrilling relationship of voice and orchestra. I am relatively new to Baroque music and grateful for the opportunities I have had, to learn from the masters. I am eager to learn more about the style and to portray it with my voice, as I am eager to continue learning about all styles in opera.