Wednesday, September 30, 2020

John Malveaux: The Metropolitan Opera opens its 2021-22 season with Terence Blanchard’s “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” — the first work by a Black composer at the Met

Davone Tines

John Malveaux of writes:

The Metropolitan Opera opens its 2021-22 season with Terence Blanchard’s “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” — the first work by a Black composer ever presented by the Met. Five productions will also be conducted by women, the highest number in a season. See pic-bass-baritone Davone Tines stares in "Fire Shut Up in My Bones".



John Malveaux: Michael Abels shared a track he produced for singer/composer Rhiannon Giddens' new opera about a Muslim African enslaved in 1807

Michael Abels

John Malveaux of writes:

Composer Michael Abels shared a track he produced for singer/composer Rhiannon Giddens forthcoming opera about a Muslim African enslaved and brought to Charleston in 1807. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Bill Doggett: Beethoven@250-A Conversation with Pianist, Stewart Goodyear, Sunday 9/27/20

Bill Doggett writes:

A Great Conversation about Beethoven and much more with Beethoven specialist, Canadian pianist, Stewart Goodyear. *LISTEN with headphones/earbuds to the glorious music samples* Music showcased includes Mr. Goodyear's Live performances of excerpts of 1. Op 111 Sonata {#32} performed at Koerner Hall, Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto 2. Op28 Pastorale Sonata#15 {Frankfurt Germany} 3. Op106 Sonata#29 Hammerklavier 4th Movement complete This conversation is wide ranging and includes issues dealing with challenges as a performer of Color in Classical Music as well as the current controversies including "Cancel Culture meets Beethoven" and "Was Beethoven Black"

Monday, September 28, 2020

John Malveaux: Part 2 of 3 series highlighting composers of African descent BBC Sounds

 Adolphus Hailstork

John Malveaux of writes:

Part 2 of 3 series highlighting composers of African descent  See pic Adolphus Hailstork Trinity Alps Chamber Music Festival live streaming concert 7 PM PT Sept. 29. Selections from Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Negro Melodies, Op. 24.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912)

Weaverville, California

September 28, 2020

Trinity Alps Chamber Music Festival presents live streaming concert 

The Trinity Alps Chamber Music Festival will be resuming its popular series of digital concerts at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29.  The concert will be streamed live from the Trinity Alps Performing Arts Center in Weaverville, and will feature trio performances by festival co-founders, pianist Ian Scarfe and violinist Ellen McGehee, joined by cellist James Jaffe.

The concert will be streamed via Zoom, and will feature interviews with the musicians, performances of music by Ludwig van Beethoven and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, and a live Q&A that audience members can participate in.

Registration is required to attend the concert, visit to register. Instead of setting ticket prices, the festival asks attendees to “pay-what-you-can,” allowing each to choose a contribution that is best for their budget. 


The musical selections will include Ludwig van Beethoven’s famous Piano Trio in D Major, Op. 70, No. 1. It is often referred to as the “Ghost” Trio, because of the haunting minor-key music in the middle, but overall it is a buoyant, joyous, and often humorous work that is one of Beethoven’s finest. The musicians will also prepare selections from Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Negro Melodies, Op. 24. Coleridge-Taylor was a mixed-race English composer who lived at the height of the late-Romantic era, and his arrangements call to mind the music of Dvorak or Grieg, other composers who successfully married folk-music styles with the classical Romantic traditions.    


Sunday, September 27, 2020

John Malveaux: Los Angeles Philharmonic Soundstage Episode 1-explore expressions of love

J'Nai Bridges

George Walker (1922-2018)

John Malveaux of writes:

Los Angeles Philharmonic Soundstage Episode 1-explore expressions of love

Gustavo Dudamel, conductor
María Valverdenarrator
J'Nai Bridgesmezzo-soprano  

LIEBERSON  Neruda Songs: “Amor mío, si muero y tú no mueras”
WALKER  Lyric for Strings
MAHLER  Adagietto from Symphony No. 5   

Sergio A. Mims: Brandon Patrick George Plays Bach, Pierre Boulez, and Prokofiev on new Profil CD release

Brandon Patrick George

Sergio A. Mims writes:

Brandon Patrick George of Imani Winds makes his debut album for Profil with an album of works for solo flute by Bach, Boulez, Prokofiev and Kalevi Aho 

"Flautist Brandon Patrick George describes his debut album as a dialogue between the past and the future. It is indeed quite a leap in time from Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) to the Finnish composer Kalevi Aho, born in 1949 – yet he has included works for solo flute by both composers on this recording. 

There are also two important chamber works for a flute and piano duo which represent milestones in the repertoire: a sonata by Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) and a sonatina by Pierre Boulez (1925-2016) – and so this release represents a walk through musical history spanning 300 years. 

Brandon Patrick George is the flutist of the Grammy®-nominated Imani Winds, and has performed with many of the world’s leading ensembles including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE)"


John Malveaux: Part 1 of 3 series highlighting composers of African descent on BBC Sounds

Janise White

John Malveaux of writes:

Part 1 of 3 series highlighting composers of African descent  See pic Janise White, Afro-American Chamber Music Society Orchestra 

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Sergio A. Mims: Trailblazing musician Booker Rowe takes final bow after 50 years with Philadelphia Orchestra

Booker Rowe

Sergio A. Mims forwards this story:

"Been first all my life and the only all my life, really. There were very few of us."

Tamala Edwards

September 24, 2020

You may be noticing a rash of retirements recently as people rethink their priorities in the midst of the pandemic.

In this week's Art of Aging, Tamala Edwards meets a trailblazing musician from Germantown taking his final bow after a half-century with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Booker Rowe started playing the violin just before his 12th birthday.

"I bugged my parents for two years for a violin and my parents finally bought me a $35 violin," says Rowe. "I'd play it anywhere."

He credits a West Philadelphia High School teacher for instilling lessons on music theory and harmony.

"He brought out the symphonies of Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms and we had to sight-read them," says Rowe.

Rowe got his first professional job in Nashville, Tennessee, and with it an upgrade on his violin.

"This is the instrument that I bought in 1963 when I went to play with the Nashville Symphony String Quartet," explains Rowe. "It was a Gagliano."

And he made history with it.

"I made the string quartet the first integrated string quartet in the south," says Rowe.

It was the first in a string of firsts for Rowe, who in 1968 was hired as a sub for the Philadelphia Orchestra; becoming the first Black musician to play with the Fabulous Philadelphians.

TWC Welcomes Acclaimed Arts Critic Patrick D. McCoy As Guest Host + Creative Producer For TWC TV Series This Fall And Winter

Patrick D. McCoy

Washington Chorus

Sep. 23, 2020

To help accelerate the expansion and growth of its popular online TWC TV web series, D.C.’s only two time Grammy award-winning choral ensemble, The Washington Chorus, is proud to announce and welcome acclaimed arts critic and media personality Patrick D. McCoy as its new Guest Host and Creative Producer for the TWC TV series this October, November, and December.

“With over 7,000 series views, hundreds of dedicated live watchers, and a growing global audience, TWC TV has grown from a small idea to a beloved online program that brings together choral music lovers from around the world,” said TWC Executive Director Stephen Beaudoin. “From insightful artist and community partner interviews to sharing powerful music and performances, the feedback we’ve gotten is that this is a vital new initiative with lots of potential. And who better to help realize this potential than D.C.’s own acclaimed arts critic and bon vivant, Patrick D. McCoy? With Patrick as our guest host and creative producer these next few months, I’m truly excited to experience the vital conversations, stories, and music that will be shared on TWC TV.”

As Guest Host and Producer for the fall and winter shows, Mr. McCoy will curate and creatively produce five TWC TV episodes, also serving as the series host, bringing to light many of the artists, issues, and ideas connected to The Washington Chorus’ fall and winter programs through in-depth artist interviews, online performances, and more. His TWC TV guest host and creative producer role is modeled as a pilot program, and currently scheduled for five episodes: October 15, October 29, November 12, December 3, and December 17, 2020. All episodes will stream for free online via TWC’s YouTube channel on Thursdays at 5 pm Eastern.

Known across the DMV region for his insightful interviews of renowned classical music artists and his incisive commentary and sparkling personality, Mr. McCoy says he is delighted to join as Creative Producer and Guest Host of the TWC TV series in the fall and winter of 2020.

This new relationship with The Washington Chorus represents a paradigm shift in my work as an arts journalist, but particularly, as a media personality that has focused on covering the DC performing arts scene in a variety of mediums and platforms,” Mr. McCoy says. “It was The Washington Chorus' former Executive Director Dianne Peterson and former artistic director Julian Wachner that considered my efforts with respect early on.  That spirit has continued throughout the last 10 or so years, more recently with former Maestro Christopher Bell and now with current music director, Maestro Eugene Rogers.  Even though this now means that during this particular season of hosting, I will not be able to 'cover' their efforts from an editorial standpoint. I am actually a part of the team and truly grateful for this unexpected invitation from current executive director Stephen Marc Beaudoin."

The Washington Chorus notes with gratitude the support of TWC TV from the HMFB Family Foundation, and for this and all TWC programs from the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities, National Capitol Arts and Cultural Affairs program and the US Commission on Fine Arts, the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, and the support of many more generous individuals, businesses, and foundations.

About Patrick D. McCoy:

Patrick D. McCoy distinguishes himself as a choral conductor, singer, host and music journalist residing in the Washington, D. C. area. A native of Petersburg, VA, he earned the BM in vocal performance from Virginia State University and a Master of Music in Church Music from Shenandoah Conservatory.  Juxtaposing a busy schedule between writing and public appearances, his work has been published in The Washington Post, Early Music America, Prince Georges Suite Magazine, Classical Voice North America, The Afro-American Newspaper, CBS Washington and Over the last 10 years, McCoy has become an important voice in the DC arts community and can be found at many of the major concert venues.  As a media personality, he has appeared as a guest on DC's WPFW "Jazz Stories" with host Aaron Myers and as a guest judge on NBC-4's "Be A Voice."

Additionally, Mr. McCoy maintains an active schedule as a vocal soloist, teacher, moderator, panelist and adjudicator. Hosting his own podcast "Across the Arts with Patrick D. McCoy" since 2010, he has recently added the virtual component to the experience, bringing live interviews to social media.  Formerly the performing arts columnist for Washington Life Magazine, his column "Perfect Pitch" featured luminaries in the arts such as Renee Fleming, Joshua Bell, Denyce Graves, Martina Arroyo, Lawrence Brownlee, Michael Tilson Thomas, Nicole Cabell and Julian Wachner, among numerous others.

He currently serves as Organist/Choirmaster at Saint John's Episcopal Church in Beltsville, MD.  He is a member of the Music Critics Association of North America, a former member of the Shenandoah University Alumni Board of Directors, a past board member of The Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts (CAAPA) The Association of Anglican Musicians, National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc. and a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.  Patrick credits all of these accomplishments to God and in loving memory of his mother.

To learn more, visit

Rick Robinson: CutTime® Plays Manchester, Michigan Tonight 7:30 EST!


Sept. 26, 2020

Dear Friends,        
I realize I have owed you an update by now. I'll have a bit of great news soon, as Let the Children Play is almost ready to premiere.

But if you're looking for a cool concerts online tonight, be sure to check out CutTime Simfonica® at 7:30 EST for a quick set of lively, animated and meaningful music-making you can join in at home banging pots and pans! Be ALIVE and make some joyful noises with us! Take and post a selfie or video doing it, so we can share YOUR creativity with ours!

We are opening the online season for Riverfolk Music and Arts series in Manchester, MI, balancing meat and potatoes with my own romantic and highly energetic compositions.

Joplin - Maple Leaf Rag
Bach - Suite #3 Gavottes I & II
Mozart - Divertimento in D opening
Mozart - Symphony #40 Samba excerpt
Robinson - Pork n Beans (Sturm und Funk!)
Beethoven - Symphony No. 6 opening
Beethoven - Symphony No. 5 opening
Robinson - Serenade from Mighty Love
Robinson - Model-T Magic

Note: this will likely be our last public performance tonight before warmer weather returns next Spring. How sad to contemplate: so let us be grateful and register early at this link for $0-100.

Remember: you can always visit our SoundCloud feed for bursts of inspiration. And visit us daily on Facebook and Twitter.


- Rick Robinson

Friday, September 25, 2020 Composer Shirley Thompson on the black composers who changed classical music forever

Shirley Thompson
(Credit Gary Thomas)

Brought to you by BBC Music Magazine

As part of the BBC programme Black Classical Music: The Forgotten History, composer Shirley Thompson celebrates the rich history of classical music by black composers

September 23, 2020

It is very challenging to commend only two single composers of African heritage that have made significant innovations in the evolution of the genre of classical music.

However, I do not want the opportunity to pass without making an attempt to do so, not least the brilliant American composer Florence Price, who, in 1933, became the first African American woman to have a symphony performed by a major US orchestra.

For me, the innovations of the Franco-Guadeloupean composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745 – 1799) embody the tipping point of the Classical period. While the trans-Atlantic trade in enslaved African people raged on, Europe was experiencing a significant period of decadence in culture and the arts. We think that the essence of classical music was crystallised with the music of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. However, Bologne was the pioneer of many of the musical forms that we associate with these composers.

He was not only a composer, but a virtuoso violinist, conductor, champion swordsman, businessman, entrepreneur and political activist. The most highly regarded works of Joseph Bologne include six comic operas, seven violin concertos and several songs, symphonic works and chamber pieces. In 1776 he was mooted as the best person to head the Paris Opera, but protests over his ethnic heritage prevented him from obtaining the role. Today, the accomplishments of Joseph Bologne are still yet to be recognised. Imagine what his accomplishments could have been if he was afforded fair and equal opportunities in the 18th century?

Black Classical Music: A Forgotten History will be broadcast on BBC Four on Sunday 27 September at 9pm

First Run Features: Myth of a Colorblind France

Myth of a Colorblind France

Opens Today!

For more than a century Black artists have traveled to Paris to liberate themselves from the racism of the United States. What made these artistic innovators choose France? And is France truly colorblind?

Myth of a Colorblind France explores these questions by looking at the lives and careers of renowned artists who emigrated to Paris, including Josephine Baker, James Baldwin, Augusta Savage, Richard Wright and more.

"Artistry Abroad! A history of eminent African-Americans who have lived in France, interweaving the thoughts of Black artists residing there today with the stories of figures who traveled to the country in the 19th century."
- The New York Time

Directed by Alan Govenar
86 minutes, color, 2020
Optional English subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Ticket price: $10
When you buy a ticket, 50% of the proceeds go straight back
to your local theater to support them during this difficult time.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

THE TOWN HALL announces new artistic director MELAY ARAYA and free digital programming

Melay Araya

Sept. 21, 2020

"... The Town Hall will strive to provide audiences with art, 
entertainment, education and inspiration."

The Town Hall Foundation's Board of Trustees and Lawrence Zucker, Executive Director, are pleased to announce that Melay Araya has been named the new Artistic Director of the renowned performing arts venue. Since 2018, Araya worked at Town Hall in the joint role of Associate Artistic Director and Archivist. She is the host of CENTURY OF STORY AND SONG, Town Hall's digital series featuring the highlights of its remarkable history. 

Melay said, "I feel honored to build on The Town Hall's robust and inspiring legacy of being the 'Hall for All.' In the face of the pandemic, the protests, the constant political, environmental and social change all over the world, The Town Hall will strive to provide audiences with art, entertainment, education and inspiration. There is so much need: a need for insight, for illumination, for comfort, for distraction, and for pleasure."

"For nearly a century, The Town Hall is where downtown came uptown, where uptown came downtown, and where artists the world over brought their groundbreaking work to live audiences. I envision a time in the not-too-distant future where we can continue in that great tradition with live events. But for now, we have a robust slate of free digital programming to announce."  

Zucker noted, "Melay is a breath of fresh air and a new perspective. With her vision, we will take artistic risks and use our digital platform to break young, experimental artists in dance, visual art, literary art and film. While continuing to present live-streamed, audience-free concerts, we are already planning for a post-pandemic time when live audiences will return to 43rd Street. But safety and science come first."

This fall programming at The Town Hall will feature free live-streamed and online events as noted below. The company is building its programming with artists from around the world to provide audiences new ways of seeing, responding to, and finding some pleasure in the present moment."

The Town Hall Teach-Ins is a new program of adult education on a diverse array of topics meant to expand our audience's consciousness. 


Chris Hegadus will discuss the Criterion Collection's release of her documentary Town Bloody Hall (1979), which captured Norman Mailer, Germaine Greer, Jill Johnston, Diana Trilling and Jacqueline Ceballos in an infamous debate on women's liberation at The Town Hall.  Dr. Mia Mask, Professor of Film at Vassar College, will speak to Chris Hegadus about the film, the evolution of American documentary film, and The Town Hall event itself.

9/24: Screening of FANDANGO ON THE WALL (2020) dir. Varda Bar-Kar. 

The Town Hall presents a free live streamed screening of the HBO film documenting Grammy winner O'Farrill's trip as he recorded an album on the Mexico-United States border. Followed by a post-show interactive Q+A with director Varda Bar-Kar and Arturo O'Farrill.

10/01: BLACK PEOPLE ARE MY BUSINESS: Toni Cade Bambara's Practices of Liberation - A Teach-In with Professor Thabiti Lewis

Thabiti Lewis, Professor of English at Washington State University, presents his recently released book "Black People Are My Business": Toni Cade Bambara's Practices of Liberation (2020) in a teach-in on Toni Cade Bambara's work and its relevance to activists and cultural workers today.

10/06: CSS Demanding Space: SUFFRAGE, POLITICS, AND POWER IN THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY WITH HISTORIANS Lauren Santangelo and Dr. Paula Austin

The two educators will discuss Santangelo's book Suffrage and the City: New York Women Battle for the Ballot (2019) and Austen's Coming of Age in Jim Crow DC (2019). Conversation to include suffrage movements in New York and Washington, DC., and will cover the legacy of The League for Political Education, the suffragist organization that founded The Town Hall. Santangelo is a lecturer at Princeton University. Austin is a professor at Boston University.


Riccardi, Director of Research Collections for the Louis Armstrong House Museum, will present his latest book Heart Full of Rhythm: The Big Band Years of Louis Armstrong (2020)

DATE TBA: The 50th Anniversary of THE BLUEST EYE

The Town Hall presents a 50th anniversary commemoration of Toni Morrison's landmark debut with scholars and peers of the great novelist.


Poets gather for a fundraiser to benefit organizations doing on the ground-work in the aftermath of the August explosion in Beirut.


The Town Hall hosts a Halloween and Blue Moon (2nd full moon of the month) celebration to commemorate the 1973 Town Hall concert and recording of Sun Ra and the Arkestra's homage to the Comet Kohoutek, which was passing by Earth at the time. Q & A: Marlon Daniel on the Chevalier de Saint-Georges & Systematic Racism in Classical Music


Sep 23, 2020

Q & A: Marlon Daniel on the Chevalier de Saint-Georges & Systematic Racism in Classical Music

By David Salazar

Few artists have dedicated themselves to championing the works of composers of African and African American descent the way that conductor Marlon Daniel has.

A Chicago native, Daniel has performed new works by such composers as Fred Onovwerosuoke, Dominique Le Gendre, and Adolphus Hailstork, among others. He also founded the Festival International de Music Saint-Georges in Guadaloupe and was the first conductor to lead a performance of the composer’s long-lost opera “L’Amant Anonyme” in over 230 years. He was also the inaugural music director of the Colour of Music Festival in Charleston, South Carolina.

Daniel, a winner of the “Special Talent Award” at the 2018 Bucharest Symphony Orchestra’s International Conducting Competition, has also premiered several new works by contemporary composers around the world.

The conductor, who recently started working as the Director of Orchestral Ensembles at Fordham University, recently spoke to OperaWire about his career, the music of Chevalier de Saint-Georges and other black composers, and the systematic racism inherent in the world of classical music.

OperaWire: You founded the Saint-Georges International Music Festival. How did this project come about? 

Marlon Daniel: An official Festival of Guadeloupe, the Festival International de Musique Saint-Georges is the most prestigious classical music festival in the Caribbean. It is a tribute to Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799), the greatest fencer of his time and a colonel at the time of the French Revolution. He was a violinist, conductor and composer who influenced the great composers of his time, including Franz Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and authors such as Alexandre Dumas.

The festival is one of the most unique music festivals in the Caribbean and shows an unprecedented cultural richness and diversity, offering a plethora of spectacular concerts and cultural and educational events (conferences, masterclasses, workshops and exhibitions) featuring renowned international artists throughout the archipelago of Guadeloupe.

OW: How has it evolved over the years? What were some of the greatest challenges you’ve had to overcome in building the festival to what it is today?

MD: The festival was originally started as an experiment in 2011 to test the viability of having an international festival in the homeland of Chevalier de Saint-Georges. The results were overwhelming but we also found out that it would be a tremendous amount of work to sustain the festival. It took several years to form a team and build an infrastructure, while navigating geopolitical and social changes in Guadeloupe, including considerable shifts in political parties and governmental support for the arts. Part of the issue was that we were tied to the government for our primary funding.

So in 2016, I worked with a team of dedicated musicians, historians, academics and social activists and we created the ‘Association Festival International de Musique Saint-Georges’  which is the equivalent of a non-profit organization in the US and a Verein in Germany. This Association is the foundation and spearhead of the festival as we know it today.

OW: What are some future goals you have for the festival?

MD: We are still a new festival and my goals are based on building sustainability and quality. I want to be careful not to grow too big too fast. We still heavily rely on governmental grants and I’d like to become independent from those and attract a larger and more diverse group of sponsors. On an artistic and musical note, I want to present some of the most exciting and diverse emerging artists on the concert stages today. Not necessarily the most famous; I’m a big fan of the underdog because I am one. I am especially fond of giving rising stars a platform.

OW: You are a major champion of the works of Chevalier de Saint-Georges. What makes his musical style distinct and unique?

MD: What we know as the “Classical Style” is epitomized in the music of Saint-Georges. We believe today that this period was exclusively the domain of composers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Saint-Georges’ existence proves otherwise. Many of the 18th-century composers who we today consider great like Haydn and Mozart were influenced by Saint-Georges.

If it wasn’t for Napoléon, the French Revolution, slavery, and systematic racism, we would have much more of his output. If I was to characterize his style, it would be classical, rooted in Rococo flourishes that almost anticipates the virtuosity of later Romantic period composers.

OW: You also premiered his “L’amant anonyme.” How do you define the Chevalier de Saint-Georges’ operatic musical language? 

MD: It’s difficult to characterize an operatic style as “L’amant Anonyme” is the only surviving complete opera of Saint-Georges. What we can say is that we see in this and other vocal works by Saint-Georges a clear focus on combining the vocal agility and virtuosity of Baroque operas with beautiful melodies and ensemble numbers that move the plot along.

One can only wonder how Saint-Georges’ style would have evolved and the effect on history had he been allowed to take the position of artistic director of the Académie Royale de Musique, now known as the Paris Opera. Unfortunately, a 1776 petition to Queen Marie Antoinette from the three leading opera divas assured Her Majesty that “their honor and delicate conscience could never allow them to submit to the orders of a mulatto.” Rather than embarrassing the queen, with whom Saint-Georges had a close relationship, he withdrew his name.

OW: Let’s talk about your musical journey. What inspired you to dive into the world of classical music? 

MD: I grew up in Chicago Illinois and began my musical career as a pianist at a young age. I was encouraged by my grandmother who was a big fan of PBS. I remember growing up watching Great Performances and Live from Lincoln Center. Unfortunately, there were not so many musicians of color on these shows. However, as a young pianist, I was inspired by pianist André Watts and conductor Paul Freeman. I studied at the North Shore Music School and the American Conservatory of Music but the turning point in my life was meeting French pianist Cécile Ousset. She advised me to leave Chicago. I wanted to go with her to France but was too young or too scared to travel to Europe. So, after graduating high school, I settled on New York and Manhattan School of Music. I did follow this dream later studying French language at the Sorbonne in Paris and piano at Fontainbleau with Gaby Casadesus.

I discovered conducting in my last year at Manhattan School of Music. I had seen Daniel Barenboim conduct a Mozart concerto from the keyboard. I thought this was a fantastic idea. So, I gathered many of my string-playing friends and put on a concert. I performed Mozart’s Piano Concerto in B-Flat Major, K. 595 from the keyboard, and a few other orchestral works. The extraordinary thing is that it went so well all my friends declared me a hero for the performance and wanted to know when the next concert would take place. So, I decided to really study conducting. This led me to studies at the Prague Academy and eventually the mentorship of renowned Finnish pedagogue Jorma Panula.

OW: What are some of the most memorable moments in your career to date?

MD: Actually, I am torn between three memorable moments: The first was when I conducted the Russia premiere of William Grant Still’s Afro American Symphony. Though this piece is very common among American conductors (especially Black conductors in the month of February) to my surprise it had never been performed in Russia. I felt like I was carrying the tradition and reputation of my country and all Black classical musicians on my shoulders. The composer’s daughter wrote a letter declaring me a champion of her father’s works. I have never been so proud.

The second was in 2017 when I conducted the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Cuba (National Symphony of Cuba), where I was the first American conductor invited since President Obama lifted the U.S. embargo of Cuba in 2015 and the only African American to conduct the orchestra in the orchestra’s sixty-year history.

The last is after a community engagement concert featuring the music of Saint-Georges entitled ‘Before There Was Mozart’ in the Bahamas. The performance attracted an incredible four hundred (400) kids. All these kids were so engaged with the story and music! They could not believe that a classical music concert featured a composer that looked just like them. But what really made this a special moment was afterward a little girl came to me and said “I never knew there was such a thing as a Black conductor. Now I feel like I can do anything.” I will never forget this moment.

Eric Conway: National HBCU Choir performs Lift Every Voice and Sing!

Dr. Eric Conway writes on September 23, 2020:

This evening, A national HBCU choir unveiled their enormous project of gathering the forces of choir members from all the HBCUs in the country, of which there were as many as one hundred and five many years ago, to perform an anthem that is very close to the hearts of all who ever attended an HBCU: Roland Carter's arrangement of "Lift Every Voice and Sing". Please take the time to listen to this performance when over 105 voices are gathered all adorning their university attire to a magnificent rendition of the Negro National Anthem as decreed by the NAACP!
Bravo Tutti!!!

Link to performance:

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. - Aristotle
Eric Conway, D.M.A.
Fine and Performing Arts Department, Chair
Morgan State University


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

John Malveaux: Los Angeles Philharmonic’s SOUND/STAGE media project, an online compendium of concert films, debuts Friday, September 25, 10am

 J'Nai Bridges

John Malveaux of writes:

The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s SOUND/STAGE media project, an online compendium of concert films, debuts Friday, September 25, at 10am with “Love in the Time of COVID.” Friday, September 25, 2020, at 10AM Series Available at
This first episode will be narrated in Spanish by actress María Valverde, wife of LA Phil Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel.

As previously announced, the debut episode features J’Nai Bridges and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, led by Dudamel, performing one of Peter Lieberson’s Neruda Songs: “Amor mio, si muero y tú no mueras.” The performance also includes George Walker’s Lyric for Strings, and Gustav Mahler’s Adagietto from his Symphony No. 5.

Each SOUND/STAGE concert film is accompanied by additional artistic content to provide context to the individual pieces and broader concert themes. “Love in the Time of COVID” includes online a playlist from Bridges and an interview in which the singer discusses returning to the stage and promoting the work of African American composers. Bridges’ performance of songs by Florence Price will be released alongside the third episode of SOUND/STAGE, “Power to the People!” Further supporting content is provided in the form of a set of poems, Love Poems in Quarantine, written by playwright and 2006 MacArthur Fellowship recipient Sarah Ruhl.

All programs are offered for free with donations encouraged. The concert will be broadcast at a later date by Classical KUSC.

All SOUND/STAGE performances were filmed outdoors at the Hollywood Bowl under strict adherence to public health guidelines, with all performers maintaining social distance.


Love in the Time of COVID
Los Angeles Philharmonic
Gustavo Dudamel, conductor
María Valverde, narrator
J'Nai Bridges, mezzo-soprano
LIEBERSON Neruda Songs: “Amor mio, si muero y tú no mueras”
WALKER Lyric for Strings
MAHLER Adagietto from Symphony No. 5

Includes an interview with J’Nai Bridges, a playlist from Bridges, and poems by Sarah Ruhl