Friday, October 23, 2020

The Dream Unfinished: One Concert, Five Places: Music On The March 10/24 at 4 PM


Saturday, October 24th, 4:00 - 5:00 PM

Experience a Zoom like no other and help get out out the vote wherever you are! Join us this Saturday at 4pm for Music On the March, a virtual concert featuring music from the 1963 March On Washington taking place in 5 locations across New York City. 

We'll gather online this Saturday, 10/24 at 4 PM EDT. Each borough will be in a breakout room on the Zoom call, and you can circulate and take in a performance that’s taking place citywide. 

And remember: Help get out the vote like everything depends on it! #GOTV

Register Today and Join Us The Dean Of African-American Composers Didn’t Think He’d Be Remembered: William Grant Still At 125

 William Grant Still
(Courtesy of Celeste Headlee)

(Celeste Headlee)
Celeste Headlee hugs her grandfather William Grant Still

CPR Classical

October 22, 2020

William Grant Still thought he would be forgotten.

That’s what his granddaughter, musician and journalist Celeste Headlee, told us when she spoke about her beloved grandfather- a composer whose lush, emotional music lends itself to the distinctly American sound of the early 20th century. Still’s compositions paint a landscape of the world around him, and of the musical heritage of fellow African Americans. 

The First African American Symphonist

Take his first symphony, “Afro-American”, for example. Not only is it Still’s most famous work, it was performed by 38 orchestras in the U.S. and Europe in its first 20 years, making it the most popular American symphony until 1950. When he began sketching the piece in 1924, Still had recently finished playing in the pit for the Broadway musical, “Shuffle Along”, which was produced and performed entirely by African Americans. According to writer and activist Langston Hughes, that show ushered in the Harlem Renaissance. Headlee says that Still mused on the symphony and its inspirations for years, but it took until the Depression for Still to buckle down, shut himself in a New York City apartment, and write the whole thing in a few months. The Rochester Philharmonic premiered the symphony a year later in 1931. “Afro-American” was the first symphony by a Black composer to be performed by a leading orchestra. 

Still's Influence On Gershwin

The symphony incorporates original blues themes and jazz rhythms, a rarity at the time and even today. Still deftly includes a banjo in the piece and also incorporates a familiar theme. Back in his “Shuffle Along” days, Still improvised a four-note riff and then played it every night. One person who loved attending the popular musical was George Gershwin. Gershwin set the words “I Got Rhythm” to Still’s four-notes in the song of the same name. It’s disputed whether Gershwin consciously or unconsciously lifted that riff but you can hear Still take it back in the third movement of his first symphony, “Afro-American.” While the similarity is audible, Headlee says, “Honestly, I never heard my grandfather rant about it.”

Jump to 13:05 to hear Still's "wink" at Gershwin

Still took violin lessons at the age of 15 and eventually taught himself to play all the instruments in the orchestra except for piano. Headlee explains that being able to play an instrument was important to Still. “He didn’t want to write for an instrument unless he knew where the instrument’s sweet spot was,” she says. In “Darker America,” written before “Afro-American,” Still uses those “sweet spots” to create an evocative musical texture that was his signature style. His instrumental talent allowed Still to find gigs as a performer, like in “Shuffle Along,” but also for background music on the radio and in bands. Headlee hears Still’s masterful incorporation of some of those influences in the symphonic poem “Africa,” even though Still had a very low opinion of the piece and originally discarded it. 

The Gentle Grandfather

Headlee knows what Still thought about these pieces because of his diligent note taking. He kept numerous notebooks. She was almost 9 when her grandfather died and remembers many visits to his L.A. home. 

He was very gentle, she says.  He had slender fingers “and tapped them all the time.” Headlee also says “he was completely wrapped up in music. He was always singing it, humming it, tapping it, pointing it out, always.” And her grandparents’ house was full of love. Her grandfather made what he called Honest to Goodness Toast, which Headlee thinks contained molasses and wheat germ. He made puzzles that he cut out with an exacto knife. And she hears his personality in his music. Still’s Suite for “Violin and Piano” musically depicts three sculptures by fellow Harlem Renaissance artists: Richmond Barthé’s “African Dancer,” Sargent Johnson’s “Mother and Child,” and Augusta Savage’s “Gamin.” “What he saw was the possibility for mischief,” Headlee says of the third movement, “He saw a boy that was very much like himself as a boy. If we are to believe what his mother said and his own stories of his childhood, he was a handful.” 

Still The Patriot

Handful, yes, but also a patriot with optimism despite the challenges of being a Black American. Still served in the Navy during World War I and wrote music to honor the fallen soldiers of World War II. Of his piece “In Memoriam: The Colored Soldiers Who Died for Democracy,” Still wrote,

“I also hope that our tribute to those who died will make the democracy for which they fought greater and broader than it has ever been before.”

Headlee says, “My grandfather was a patriot to his dying day. He came out of a tradition from my great grandmother of believing that African Americans could earn a safe and successful place in the United States. His mother had been born into slavery, he was the first of our family born outside of slavery.” Headlee goes on to say that her family, including her grandfather, saw a lack of knowledge as the reason for racism. “He believed that if white people in general knew how hard working and good and brave and moral African-Americans were that racism would end.” Headlee says, “He was wrong about that. But part of his patriotism and love for his country came from this optimism.”

John Malveaux: South African cellist Abel Selaocoe is redefining the parameters of the cello (between Western and non-Western musical traditions)

Abel Selaocoe

John Malveaux of writes:

South African cellist Abel Selaocoe is redefining the parameters of the cello (between Western and non-Western musical traditions with a view of helping classical music reach a more diverse audience).  Please see

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Trailer Drop: Cinémoi Network World Premiere's Documentary Feature Film “Josephine Baker: The Story of An Awakening" on October 29th, 2020

Cinémoi Network writes:

Just following up as we would love to have you share the trailer drop with your audience/readership for the Cinémoi Network exclusive world premiere of the documentary feature film “Josephine Baker: The Story of An Awakening,” which illuminates the life of iconic artist and human rights activist Josephine Baker, the first global black superstar. The Kepler22 Productions eye opening documentary feature film from acclaimed French filmmaker Ilana Navaro (“La Case de l’Oncle Doc,” “Toutes Les Télés Du Monde”) “Josephine Baker: The Story of An Awakening” will be featured exclusively on the Cinémoi Network beginning on Thursday, October 29th at 7pm PST / 10pm EST.  The film reveals rare and previously unseen archives that will resolve the puzzle of Josephine’s fascinating fifty-year-long “headline grabbing career.” We are also happy to offer private screener links for interview and review consideration.

World renowned performer, World War II spy, and activist are a few of the titles used to describe Josephine Baker, one of the most successful African American performers in French history. Viewers of the film will witness how Baker went from being a poor little black girl from Missouri to becoming the Queen of Paris, before joining the French Resistance and finally creating her dream family “The Rainbow Tribe”, adopting twelve children from the four corners of the world.

Josephine Baker made three trips “back home” (1936, 1948, 1951), and each time she experienced everyday racism, despite her worldwide fame. Each tragic experience triggered her life-changing decisions. Gradually the battle for Civil Rights became her own, up until 1963, when she was the only woman who spoke on stage besides Martin Luther King during the famous March in Washington. From then on, she used her fame to serve her political utopia until the end of her life. This is the journey of a superstar’s awakening from the “banana dancer” to a humanist fighter. But can fame change the world?

“Josephine Baker: The Story of An Awakening” Trailer link:

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Triangle Magazine feature article on Chevalier de Saint-Georges by festival's Artistic and Music Director Marlon Daniel

Maestro Marlon Daniel

Marlon Daniel's article on Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799) is available at these links: Death of Classical to Explore Music and Poetry in ‘To America’ [Kenneth Overton, Baritone; H. Leslie Adams and George Walker, Composers]


October 20, 2020

Death of Classical to Explore Music and Poetry in ‘To America’

By Logan Martell

Death of Classical is set to present “To America,” an immersive event which comes in partnership with The Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

This event is inspired by the poetry of James Weldon Johnson, writer of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” who is also buried in the cemetery; it will be curated by DoC founder Andrew Ousley, Harry Weil, the cemetery’s Director of Public Programs, as well as Artistic Partner Liz Player, and The Harlem Chamber Players.


The program will feature music by Carlos Simon, H. Leslie Adams, Caroline Shaw, Leonard Bernstein, George Walker, and more. Poetry readings will draw from James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, and Terrance Hayes. Among the artists are the Harlem Chamber Players, baritone Kenneth Overton, mezzo Lucy Dhegrae, bass Paul Grosvenor, cellists Robert Burkhart and Jules Biber, soprano Danielle Buonaiuto, and more.

Decca Classics: The Kanneh-Masons “Carnival” Out 11/6 On Decca










Decca Classics will release Carnival, a very special collaboration between Academy Award-winning actor Olivia Colman, children’s author Michael Morpurgo and the seven “extraordinarily talented” (Classic FM) Kanneh-Mason siblings – Isata, Braimah, Sheku, Konya, Jeneba, Aminata and Mariatu. The brand-new Kanneh-Mason album, their first as a family, will be released on 6th November 2020.


Recorded at London’s Abbey Road Studios, the release includes new poems written by War Horse author Morpurgo to accompany French composer Saint-Saëns’ beloved musical suite ‘Carnival of the Animals’. The poems are read by the author himself, joined by The Favourite actor Colman, and guest musicians complete the ensemble for the suite.


On working with the Kanneh-Masons, Morpurgo says, “These young people are remarkable, not because they are young, not because they are the seven siblings from one family, but simply because they make magnificent music together, and it is evident they love doing it. Hear them and you know it. See them and you know it.”

Along with Colman’s readings interposing the humorous suite ‘Carnival of the Animals’, which represents different animals through descriptive musical motifs, the recording features Morpurgo’s heart-warming Grandpa Christmas story, set to music for the first time with classic tracks including ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’, ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ and ‘Sea Murmurs’. Morpurgo reads the role of Grandpa, with the youngest Kanneh-Mason, Mariatu, reading his granddaughter.


Carnival is the debut recording for youngest sisters Konya, Jeneba, Aminata and Mariatu. It includes a new arrangement of Eric Whitacre’s ‘The Seal Lullaby’ featuring all seven siblings, aged between 11-24. There is also the Kanneh-Masons’ own arrangement of Bob Marley’s iconic hit ‘Redemption Song’, marking 40 years since its release in 1980 – fewer than five years before the singer’s death.


The stunning artwork for Carnival has been specially commissioned from children’s illustrator Emma Chichester Clark, who has created a colourful storybook world featuring vibrant birds, friendly kangaroos, curious elephants and all seven of the Kanneh-Mason siblings – depicted, of course, with their instruments.


For the Kanneh-Masons, 2020 has presented one overriding positive: the opportunity for all members of the family to join together at home for the first time in over five years, performing together and sharing their extraordinary talents with the world via a series of livestreams, watched by millions around the world. In recent months, the Kanneh-Masons have found time to reflect:


“This album has grown from our passion as a family for making music together. This has been a heart-breaking time for musicians and performing artists. We want to share our love of music and our passion for communication. As young children, the power of combining music with storytelling is truly magical and we are honoured to have collaborated with Michael Morpurgo, Olivia Colman and the wonderful musicians who joined us, to create music that celebrates our connection with the natural world. Together, we want to inspire children and adults to listen more closely, to value our world and all the diversity within.”


The family are passionate about music education and Sheku, who is still studying himself, has inspired many children to take up the cello – dubbed ‘The Sheku Effect’ (New York Times). While Sheku and Isata enjoy successful solo careers, they also appear internationally as a duo with performances ranging from New York’s Carnegie Hall to London’s Royal Albert Hall. Their most recent concerts in the UK earned glowing reviews, praising their “sibling harmony” (Observer) and “powerful impact” (Financial Times). Together with their brother Braimah, they often perform together as the Kanneh-Mason Trio, having toured in the UK, US and in the Caribbean. Braimah, who leads the ensemble on this new Carnival recording, gives regular concert performances in the UK and sometimes appears with Clean Bandit, performing on the band’s No. 1 single ‘Rockabye’.


In July 2020, the family featured in a special UK TV documentary, BBC One’s Imagine… This House is Full of Music, sharing intimate details of their life behind the doors of their Nottingham home. The programme, filmed remotely, featured “superb” (The Times) and “flawless” (The Guardian) musical vignettes interspersed with interviews with the “absurdly talented” (Telegraph) siblings – each given their moment to shine – and parents Stuart and Kadiatu. Kadiatu recently released her first book, a memoir entitled ‘House of Music: Raising the Kanneh-Masons’. All seven siblings are set to perform together in concert at London’s Barbican Hall on 22nd October, with the live performance streamed online.


While Carnival marks the first Kanneh-Mason family album, Sheku and Isata have each released their own solo albums. Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who rose to fame after winning BBC Young Musician 2016 and later performed at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, has released two albums – the most recent, Elgar, proved a chart hit when it was released in January, with 14 consecutive weeks at No.1 on the Australian Classical Chart and reaching No.8 in the UK Official Album Chart. Meanwhile, Isata landed Germany’s prestigious Opus Klassik Young Artist award for her debut album Romance: The Piano Music of Clara Schumann.


Speaking of his collaboration with the Kanneh-Masons, Michael Morpurgo concludes: “To be making music and stories and poems with people of such talent, lifted our spirits, gave hope and happiness to everyone there, at a time when we all needed it most, left us all inspired to create a better world for all of us after this is over. I hope and believe all of you will feel the same once you have heard it.”


The Kanneh-Masons’ Carnival is released on Decca Classics on 6th November 2020.

It will be available digitally as well as CD, 2LP vinyl and a deluxe hardback book with CD.


Tuesday, October 20, 2020 Florence Price's Fantasy for Violin and Piano at UConn School of Fine Arts Faculty Showcase streamed 7:30 PM Nov. 19

 Florence B. Price (1887-1953)

University of Connecticut


Featuring Louis Hanzlik, Solomiya Ivakhiv, and Eric Reed
With Special Guest Tanya Bannister

presented on Jorgensen Digital Stage as part of the Lenard Chamber Music Series
with support from the Jorgensen CoStars and Circle of Friends

Thurs, Nov 19, 7:30 pm | LIVESTREAM
Live Q&A after the concert

UConn's School of Fine Arts presents a delightful evening of chamber music featuring its very own award-winning faculty. Louis Hanzlik, Grammy Award-winning trumpeter and member of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and American Brass Quintet, joins with Eric Reed, internationally-recognized French horn player and member of the American Brass Quintet, and violinist Solomiya Ivakhiv, international soloist, recitalist, and chamber music collaborator. Ivakhiv's debut album, Ukraine: Journey to Freedom - A Century of Classical Music for Violin and Piano, was featured in the Top 5 New Classical Releases on the iTunes billboard in 2016.  Special guest Tanya Bannister, winner of Concert Artists Guild International Competition and Co-Founder and Artistic Director of AlpenKammerMusik, will also be joining the faculty for the performance.

Florence Price - Fantasy for Violin and Piano in G Minor
Anthony Korf - Three Miniatures for Trumpet, Violin, and Piano*  (*World Premiere)
Johannes Brahms - Horn Trio in E-flat Major, Op. 40
Paquito D'Rivera - Danzon, arr. for Trumpet, Violin, Horn and Piano


SFA Faculty Showcase
11-19-2020 7:30 PM
$15.00 Opera Theatre of Saint Louis to Present...Double Bill of William Grant Still’s Highway 1, U.S.A. and Gianni Schicchi

William Grant Still (1895-1978)

October 19, 2020

A double bill will feature William Grant Still’s Highway 1, U.S.A. and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. Highway 1, U.S.A. will be staged by Ron Himes, founder and producing director of the St. Louis Black Rep, while Schicchi will be directed by Seán Curran; Leonard Slatkin, conductor laureate of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, will conduct the performances, which will feature Nicole Cabell, Will Liverman, Christian Mark Gibbs and La’Shelle Allen in the Grant Still, and Levi Hernandez, Joshua Blue, Elena Villalón, La’Shelle Allen, Jermaine Smith, Meghan Kasanders and Calvin Griffin in the Puccini. 

Monday, October 19, 2020

John Malveaux: The state of New York recognized JUNETEENTH as an official state holiday. MusicUNTOLD partnered with Long Beach to present JUNETEENTH


John Malveaux of writes:

The state of New York recognized JUNETEENTH as an official state holiday.   See MusicUNTOLD is a national leader in producing JUNETEENTH concert celebrations featuring headliners in multiple genres including jazz, symphony, opera, African, gospel, and popular music.

MusicUNTOLD partnered with City of Long Beach, Ca. Park Recreation & Marine Department to present free JUNETEENTH celebrations featuring Grammy winners Andrae Crouch in 2005 and Shirley Caesar in 2006.  After the City of Long Beach Parks Recreation & Marine Department discontinued City funding of JUNETEENTH, MusicUNTOLD presented the only JUNETEENTH Celebration in the nation held in a major downtown venue-The Long Beach Performing Arts Center- in 2010.  The concert featured the 2010 Best World Music artist, Salif Keita from Mali, Africa. MusicUNTOLD is devoted to presenting arts and educational programs that promote diversity and human dignity. See attachments of selected posters

Aaron Dworkin: Sharing my Ford Foundation Creative Futures essay!

Aaron P. Dworkin writes: 

"I use my voice to call for action, not understanding. I call for change, not contemplation. I call for immediate determination, not indeterminate obfuscation and delay. I call for commitment to a cause, not committees to review case studies. I call my fellow administrators in the arts to task, and not to form a task force."

I just wanted to share my essay "Sound of Silence" on diversity in the arts (especially American orchestras) as part of the Ford Foundation's Creative Futures initiative. I hope you are well and having a great Fall despite the unprecedented challenges that are facing us.

Enjoy, take care and stay safe!!


Sunday, October 18, 2020

Kelly Hall-Tompkins: I will be guest host on WQXR this Thursday evening at 7pm!

I hope this email finds you well and enjoying the beauty of fall.  I remain so very grateful that even in such challenging times I am flourishing with many meaningful and creative projects.  Among those, I am happy to share with you that I will be guest host on WQXR this Thursday evening at 7pm!   I will be sharing a program of some of my favorite works, artists and recordings, so I hope you'll tune in.  To listen live on their website, just go to or click the image above.
On a personal note, I must say it hit me hard that day. I sometimes practice my scales in front of the news, so I had my violin in my hands when the mirror reflection in front of me on the tv was a slight, affable young man also holding his violin. He was on tv because we were learning that a year before, he had been killed by the police, this gentle soul who apparently used to go to the local animal shelter and play for the kittens so they wouldn’t be lonely. Millions around the world have been affected by his untimely death and among those is my friend, composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. She called me deeply upset by this news and in shock and catharsis we’ve talked about it on several occasions. She wanted to do something in honor of him and the result is this piece. I’m deeply honored that Ellen wrote the piece for me and I premiered it on October 8th for the Eastman School of Music’s Virtual Event on Diversity and Inclusion. Ellen Taaffe Zwilich and I humbly offer this piece and performance in memory of Elijah McClain.  Please see below for the video.
I have a third premiere coming up on November 6th for a very exciting collaboration and a piece written by me!!  Please stay tuned!
It was a very unique experience for me to participate as a panelist for the Advertising Week Global Conference.  The panel was comprised of business leaders Beverly Johnson, Jecelyn Taylor and Courtney Arrington-Baldwin and myself, lead by Myrdith Leon-McCormack.  Video coming soon.
Also below are some other recent and upcoming appearances.  It's inspiring to be part of so many wonderful and creative endeavors which persevere in challenging times.  Let us all find inspiration wherever we can, stay positive and look to the future.
Thank you so much for your interest and warm regards,

New Premiere

"A Little Violin Music in Memory of Elijah McClain"

by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich

ICYMI: Recent Premiere

Recent Premiere for ACO

Inner Compás by Guy Mintus

Advertising Week

Global Conference
Panel Lead by Myrdith Leon-McCormack
Beverly Johnson
Jocelyn Taylor
Courtney Arrington-Baldwin
Kelly Hall-Tompkins

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Classic FM: How William Grant Still, the ‘Dean of Afro-American composers’, changed American classical music forever

William Grant Still. 
  Picture: Getty / International Opus       

Classic FM

16 October 2020

By Rosie Pentreath

William Grant Still was the first American to have an opera produced by New York City Opera, and the first African American composer to conduct a major US symphony orchestra – here’s everything you have to know about the ‘Dean’ of Black classical music.

“William Grant Still will conduct two of his own works.”

With that, The Los Angeles Times’ music and dance critic, Isabel Morse Jones, nonchalantly tabulated one of the most momentous occasions in American classical music history – that on 23 July 1936, at Hollywood Bowl, a Black conductor would lead a major US orchestra in concert, for the very first time.

When William Grant Still took to the podium at the helm of the LA Philharmonic, he was just ticking off a “first” of the many “firsts” that defined his career. Still was also the first American composer to have an opera performed by the New York City Opera and the first African American composer to have an opera performed by a major company; the first African American to have a symphony performed by a major US orchestra; and the first to have an opera performed on National TV.

Dubbed ‘The Dean of African American Composers’, Still composed more than 150 works, including five symphonies – his first of which was the most-performed symphony of any American for a long time – eight operas, and numerous other works. He was also a conductor, arranger and oboist.

Read more: 9 Black composers who changed the course of music history >

LA Phil: SOUND/STAGE: William Grant Still's "Sorrow"


Who was William Grant Still?

William Grant Still was born on 11 May in 1895. His mother, Carrie Lena Fambro, and his father, William Grant Still Sr, were both teachers.

His father died when Still was young, and music came from his stepfather, who encouraged him from a young age. Still took violin lessons from 15, and also taught himself to play the clarinet, saxophone, oboe, bass, cello and viola.

At his mother’s encouragement, Still studied medicine at university, but never completed the course. While at university, he stayed heavily involved with music, playing in university orchestras and bands, and he eventually got to Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio to further his musical studies.

His composer credentials come from a teacher lineage that includes French revolutionary Edgard Varèse among others, and Still combined this classical clout with his passion for folk- and jazz-inspired styles. 

Portrait of William Grant Still. 
  Picture: Getty 

Depicting the African American experience through orchestral music

Grant Still incorporated the blues, spirituals, jazz, and other ethnic American music into his orchestral and operatic compositions.

His orchestral piece, Wood Notes, depicts Still’s love of nature. And works like his ‘Afro-American’ Symphony No. 1, Symphony No. 2, the symphonic tone poem Africa, and his ballet Sahdji all “depict the African American experience” and “present the vision of an integrated American society.”

William Grant Still is very much considered part of the ‘Harlem Renaissance’ movement, which highlighted and celebrated African American intellectual, social, and artistic contributions to American cultural life, fanning out from Harlem in New York.

His works were performed internationally by the best orchestras in the world, including the Berlin Phil, the London Symphony Orchestra and Tokyo Philharmonic. 


Still died on 3 December 1978 in LA.

Hear William Grant Still’s music played by Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE, the founder of the Chineke! Foundation, on Chi-chi’s Classical Champions, and during other programmes on Classic FM.

Sergio A. Mims: Jonathon Heyward Conducts Second Movement of Dvorak's 9th Symphony with the London Symphony Orchestra

Dvorak Symphony No. 9, 'From the New World' (2nd mvt) // London Symphony Orchestra & Jonathon Heyward

Jonathon Heyward

Sergio A. Mims writes:

YouTube as part of their YouTube Sunday series of music programs has posted this video of the second movement of Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 (From the New World) conducted by Jonathon Heyward

It was recorded at LSO St Luke's on Wednesday 30 September 2020.

Arts Engines: Aaron Dworkin Interviews Entrepreneur & Maestro Roderick Cox!

Arts Engines

Welcome to this week's episode of Arts Engines which now reaches over 100,000 weekly viewers in partnership with Detroit Public Television, Ovation TV, The Violin Channel and American Public Media including Performance Today and YourClassical. Arts Engines seeks to share the most valuable advice and input from arts administrators who tell their stories of creative problem-solving, policy, economic impact, crisis management and empowering the future of our field.

This week's show is co-curated by our Creative Partner, the Aspen Music Festival & School and our guest is Conductor and Social Entrepreneur, Roderick Cox.  Enjoy... and have a creative week!

John Malveaux: Lara Downes and NPR Music Announce Amplify With Lara Downes, A New Video Conversation Series With Leading Black Musicians

The bi-weekly series, created and hosted by Downes, will offer intimate, personal
conversations with visionary artists of color making art that is both in, and of,
this time of transformation, turmoil, representation and reflection
Guests to include Rhiannon Giddens, Anthony McGill, Helga Davis,
Davóne Tines, and Sheku Kanneh-Mason and family
Series premieres Saturday, October 17 on NPR
and NPR’s YouTube and social media platforms

OCTOBER 16, 2020 - NPR Music and Lara Downes announce the launch of AMPLIFY With
Lara Downes, a new bi-weekly series of intimate and deeply personal video conversations with
visionary Black musicians who are shaping the present and future of the art form, premiering
Saturday, October 17 on, YouTube, and social media platforms.
Created and hosted by pianist and artist/citizen Lara Downes, and co-produced by NPR Music’s
Tom Huizenga, this series invites viewers to experience raw, revealing, and open-hearted
conversations reflecting on how artists are responding and creating in this time of profound
challenge and change. Downes and her guests—initially including MacArthur Fellow vocalist
and multi-instrumentalist Rhiannon Giddens, 2020 Avery Fisher Prize-winning clarinetist
Anthony McGill, multidisciplinary artist Helga Davis, and boundary-breaking vocalist Davóne
Tines, with other guests such as Sheku Kanneh-Mason and family to follow—connect and
reflect on highly relevant themes ranging from music and mission, legacy and lineage, to
transformation and change.

Says Downes of the series: “In this time of our collective reckoning about historical inequities in
American life and art, I’m excited to amplify the voices of extraordinary artists of color, shining a
bright light on a diverse and rich future that is, in the words of James Weldon Johnson, ‘full of
the hope that the present has brought us.’”

Pianist Lara Downes has been called “an explorer whose imagination is fired by bringing notice
to the underrepresented and forgotten” (The Log Journal). An iconoclast and trailblazer, her
dynamic work as a sought-after performer, a Billboard Chart-topping recording artist, a
producer, curator, activist and arts advocate positions her as a cultural visionary on the national
arts scene.
Downes’ musical roadmap seeks inspiration from the legacies of history, family, and collective
memory, excavating the broad landscape of American music to create a series of acclaimed
performance and recording projects that serve as gathering spaces for her listeners to find
common ground and shared experience.
Downes is the inaugural Artist Citizen in Residence for the Manhattan School of Music, as well
as a Fellow of the Loghaven Artist Residency. Her work has been supported by the Mellon
Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sphinx Organization, the Classical
Recording Foundation Award, the University of California Innovator of the Year Award, and the
Center for Cultural Innovation, among others.
Downes’ artistry has been called “a musical ray of hope” by NBC News, "luscious, moody and
dreamy” by The New York Times, and "addicting" by The Huffington Post. She is equally at
home on major stages including the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Boston
Symphony Hall, the Ravinia Festival, Tanglewood, and Washington Performing Arts, and clubs
and intimate venues including Joe’s Pub, National Sawdust, Yoshi’s, and Le Poisson Rouge.
Downes’ fierce commitment to activism and advocacy see her working with organizations
including Feeding America, the ACLU, the Lower Eastside Girls Club, the Sphinx Organization,
and Watts Learning Center. She is an Artist Ambassador for Headcount, a non-partisan
organization that uses the power of music to register voters and promote participation in

For more than a decade, NPR Music's robust music journalism and award-winning original video
programming has delighted millions of music fans from all genres. NPR Music collaborates with
NPR's news magazines, public radio Member stations and the passionate listener community to
celebrate exceptional music and discover emerging artists. Visit to find the
complete Tiny Desk concert series, music feature stories, extensive archives of performances,
interviews and music reviews. Connect with NPR Music on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

AMPLIFY With Lara Downes
Every other Saturday on, YouTube, and social media platforms

Schedule of Initial Guests

October 17:
Rhiannon Giddens—singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, Artistic Director of
the Silk Road Ensemble

October 31:
Anthony McGill—principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic, 2020 Avery
Fisher Prize winner, and activist 

November 14: Helga Davismultidisciplinary artist, actress, singer, composer, and host of
WNYC’s “Helga” podcast

November 28: Davóne Tines—bass-baritone, innovator, composer, co-creator of The Black

Friday, October 16, 2020

John Malveaux: Master cellist Kristen Yeon-Ji Yun performed three movements of Adolphus Hailstork Sonata for Solo Cello October 14, 2020

Kristen Yeon-Ji Yun

John Malveaux of writes:

Master cellist Kristen  Yeon-Ji Yun performed three movements (approximately 19 minutes) of Adolphus Hailstork Sonata for Solo Cello during a noon concert October 14, 2020 at The First United Methodist Church, Grand Junction, Colorado. See

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Broadway World: LA Opera Kicks Off 'On Now' Platform With Stream Of THE ANONYMOUS LOVER [Joseph Bologne, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges]

Broadway World

By BWW News Desk

Oct. 14, 2020

On November 14, 2020, LA Opera will present the company premiere of The Anonymous Lover (L'Amant Anonyme), a 1780 opera by Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799), who is widely regarded as the first Black classical composer known to history.

Conducted by James Conlon, the company's Richard Seaver Music Director, and directed by Bruce Lemon, Jr., in a socially distanced stage setting at the Colburn School, the performance will be streamed online for free to reach a wide audience.

The Anonymous Lover will be the inaugural presentation of the company's new LA Opera On Now platform. After becoming the first major American Opera Company to respond to stay-at-home orders by launching an acclaimed series of unique LA Opera At Home online offerings, the company is now making streaming a permanent part of its programming. Under the On Now banner, the company will shine the spotlight on new and innovative interpretations of opera that viewers in Los Angeles and beyond can enjoy on screens, even after stay-at-home recommendations are lifted. To date, the company reports more than 750,000 views of its online programming since its launch on March 17, 2020, demonstrating a clear demand for such content.

According to Christopher Koelsch, the company's Sebastian Paul and Marybelle Musco President and CEO, "This presentation of The Anonymous Lover gives us many reasons for celebration. An unjustly neglected piece long overdue for a return to the opera stage, the opera reminds us that artists of color have created, performed and worked in the field of classical music for centuries, too often facing insurmountable odds. I'm thrilled to work with stage director Bruce Lemon, Jr., for the first time, in our efforts to help bring this remarkable work back to its rightful place in the repertoire."


The Anonymous Lover is produced and streamed in partnership with the Colburn School, which will concurrently and collaboratively engage in a performance-based exploration of the works and legacy of Joseph Bologne.

Free digital tickets for The Anonymous Lover are now available at The stream will premiere at 5pm on Saturday, November 14.