Sunday, January 31, 2021

Tom Quick: Black History Month Broadcast No. 427 for thegrand@101 on February 7/2021, 10 PM - 12:00 AM EST


Violin Concertos by Black Composers of the 18th and 19th Centuries
Rachel Barton Pine, Violin
Cedille Records

Tom Quick writes:

Hello William

Trust all is well. Hard to believe it's February.

The broadcast is on Sunday from 10.00 pm - 12.00 am

BBC Symphony Orchestra.      Concert Overture No.1  Florence Price.  14.00
Conductor.  Michael Seal.

Jeni Slotchiver:  Piano.             From The Southland.    Harry T Burleigh.  17.40                                                                 

Michelle Mayne-Graves:         Ain't Goin' To Let Nobody    Trad:   2.25
Lifeline Quartet:                       Deep River                              Trad.  2.45
                                                     Saints' Medley                        Trad.  2.55


ORF Vienna Radio Sym Orch:   Negro Folk Symphony.  William L. Dawson.  33.00
Conductor. Arthur Fagen 

Rachel Barton-Pine:  Violin.     Romance in G Major for Violin & Orch:  Coleridge-Taylor. 12.35
Encore Chamber Orchestra.
Conductor. Daniel Hege.
Tafelmusic Orchestra:                   Contredanse                              de Saint-Georges.   2.32.  Can/Con
Director. Jeanne Lamon.              Ballet No. 2                                        "           "           2.15.  Can/Con
                                                          Ballet No. 6                                        "           "             1.40.  Can/Con

Malcolm Merriweather:  Baritone:     Three Dream Portraits.       Margaret Bonds.    7.00
Ashley Jackson:  Harp.  

Bonnie Thron:  Cello                  Call and Response.                        Thomas J Anderson.  8.21
Thomas Warburton:  Piano.  

Kind regards,

Music for a Saturday Afternoon by New York Public Library for the Performing Arts: Pianist Benjamin Bradham presents a virtual concert Feb. 20, 4 PM EST

Benjamin Bradham

Award- winning pianist, Benjamin Bradham, presents a virtual concert. The centerpiece of the program is the Sonata No. 2 of Frederic Chopin which features the famous "Funeral March". Also, on the program will be music of J.S. Bach, the father of modern keyboard music, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and last, Claude Debussy's ecstatic "L'Isle Joyeuse".

Register [for free]

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Houston Chronicle: ROCO [River Oaks Chamber Orchestra] revives the work of pioneering Black female composer Margaret Bonds

Composer Margaret Bonds
(Photo: Courtesy ROCO)

January 29, 2021

Chris Gray

The Houston orchestra will be livestreaming a performance of her music Feb. 4.

It almost sounds like a detective story: a lost recording by a once-prominent African-American composer results in a perfectly timed celebration of her music.

Flash back to 2018, when librarians from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Hirsch research library were combing through the collections at Rienzi, its house museum devoted to the European decorative arts. The River Oaks-area mansion was once home to Carroll Sterling Masterson and Harris Masterson III, the Houston philanthropists who left Rienzi to the museum when they passed away.

The Mastersons also produced several Broadway plays and musicals in the 1950s and ‘60s, notably the Tony-nominated “Bajour.” Among their massive record collection — dominated by mid-century easy-listening favorites such as Perry Como and Mantovani, as well as an appropriately large number of soundtracks — was an acetate disc wrapped in brown paper, dated from the late ‘60s and with the notation “Margaret Bonds on piano.”

On the disc was a rehearsal for a musical that was never produced. The plot is pretty standard throwaway Broadway fare about a sailor falling in and out of love in New Orleans — “a port-town romance kind of situation,” says MFAH technical services librarian Joel Pelanne. But as it happened, the woman at the piano that day was one of the more remarkable musical figures of the 20th century.

Born in Chicago, Bonds studied with pioneering composer Florence Price in her teens and in 1934 became the first African American to perform with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She went on to a fruitful career as both a performer and composer, frequently collaborating with Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes and arranging a series of spirituals, including “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” for star soprano Leontyne Price.

Interest in Bonds has ticked up in the past few years, which have seen the release of at least two major recordings: “Four Women: Music for Solo Piano” in 2018 (Price is also featured); and “Margaret Bonds: The Ballad of the Brown King & Selected Songs” the next year. On Feb. 4, streaming live from the Rienzi, ROCO will present an evening of Bonds’ music featuring pianist Howard Watkins and bass-baritone Timothy Jones.

Detroit Public TV: Tonight at 7 p.m. ET - Watch some of the nations’ finest young Black and Latinx musicians perform at the Sphinx Competition

 Watch some of the nations’ finest young Black and Latinx musicians perform for a panel of internationally renowned judges


Detroit Public TV Partners with the Sphinx Organization to Celebrate Diversity Through the Arts


Streaming Live Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on the DPTV Facebook page and at

Continuing its commitment to celebrating diversity and amplifying Southeast Michigan’s arts and culture organizations, Detroit Public TV is once again partnering with the Sphinx Organization to share the annual Sphinx Finals Competition Concert through its digital and broadcast platforms.

Such access is particularly important this year with the COVID-19 pandemic preventing live audiences from enjoying this remarkable musical event.

The nationally acclaimed contest offers young Black and Latinx classical string players an opportunity to compete under the guidance of an internationally renowned panel of judges, not only for prize money (up to $50,000), but for the gift of performing with established professional musicians in a competition setting.

The culmination of the weekend is the 24th Annual Sphinx Competition Finals Concert, featuring performances from the finalists with the unique all Black and Latinx Sphinx Symphony Orchestra. The event will be presented via a livestream  on the DPTV Facebook page or at this Saturday at 7 p.m.

Detroit Public TV will also broadcast the concert on its main channel (56.1) on February 22 at 9 p.m. 

Bill Wielgus: Research Inquiry on Oboist Ernest Washington Simms (1910-1975)

Bill Wielgus writes:

Dear Mr Zick,

I would appreciate your posting this inquiry.

"Contact information is requested for the surviving family of oboist/composer/educator Ernest Washington Simms (1910-1975) for a research project on African-American oboe players.  Mr. Simms attended the Tuskegee Institute, the Berkshire Music Institute at Tanglewood, and the New England Conservatory.  He was the brother of Harry Noble Simms, an educator/musician in New York (1915?-2012), and Robert Simms  an educator in Florida (1927-). He was also the uncle of Leah Simms, the first black woman to serve as a judge in Florida. 
Any contact information for surviving relatives is appreciated and can be sent to Bill Wielgus of American University at"


Friday, January 29, 2021 The Sphinx Organization gives space to Black and Latinx classical musicians around the world from their Detroit headquarters

Image credit: Courtesy of the Sphinx Organization

Rooted in social justice and transformation through the performance arts and classical music, the Sphinx Organization gives space to Black and Latinx classical musicians around the world from their Detroit headquarters.

Sphinx Organization artistic director and president Afa Dworkin
(Kevin Kennedy, Sphinx Organization)

Working at the intersection of social justice and the arts, the Sphinx Organization is an international organization based in Detroit with a foundation rooted in nurturing the development of classical artists of color. 

We’re looking at the issues of representation, equity and inclusion in society but through the present of the performing arts. Nationally, Black and Latinx musicians represent approximately 4% or so in American orchestras and the numbers are actually quite similar in academic institutions across conservatories and music schools,” says Afa Dworkin, president and artistic director of the Sphinx Organization. “Part of Sphinx’s work is believing that in our society, music and the performing arts are a human right and access and participation is something that  should be afforded to a person with an affinity really without regards to race or a zip code.”


With their year-round programming, the organization reaches nearly 10,000 people directly and more than 2 million in live and broadcast audiences. Part of that programming extends to its annual Sphinx Competition. 

You can stream the 24th Annual Sphinx Competition for free on Saturday, January 30 at 7pm. Watch Here:

John Malveaux: MusicUNTOLD revisits 2009 performance of American Composer Roy Harris' "Bicentennial Symphony" on Abraham Lincoln's birthday Feb. 12, 2021

John Malveaux of writes:

MusicUNTOLD will revisit the 2009 performance of American Composer Roy Harris' 
"Bicentennial Symphony" on Abraham Lincoln's birthday Feb. 12, 2021. The 2009 performance by community and college players is the only known recording of the symphony. In addition to the Feb. 12, 2021 1:00 PM PST broadcast at KLBP 99.1 (Long Beach, Ca. Public Radio), the audio and video version will be available via MusicUNTOLD website and MusicUNTOLD YouTube channel The 1st professional performance since the 1976 premiere at the Kennedy Center by the National Symphony Orchestra was scheduled for June 29, 2020 but cancelled due to Covid 19 restrictions. MusicUNTOLD is hopeful of a rescheduled summer 2021 AFM Union performance date.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

The Root: Booked and Busy: Amanda Gorman to Recite Original Poem at Super Bowl LV

Amanda Gorman

The Root

Barely a week removed from eloquently telling the truth to shame the Devil at the inauguration ceremony for our president, Joe Biden, and Vice President Kamala Harris, Amanda Gorman’s victory lap continues.

As we reported at The Root, she’s already signed on the dotted line with IMG Models and received a prestigious job offer from Morgan State University President David Wilson to become the school’s Poet-in-Residence. And for the latest stop on her apparent “Booked and Busy” tour, NBC Sports reports that the 22-year old will be reciting an original poem as part of the upcoming Super Bowl festivities. Because Black Girl Magic has no bounds.

From NBC Sports:

Amanda Gorman, the 22-year-old poet who stole the show at President Biden’s inauguration, will reach another huge audience on Super Bowl Sunday.

The NFL announced today that Gorman will recite an original poem before Super Bowl LV, as part of both the in-stadium pregame ceremony and the TV broadcast.

The original poem that the National Youth Poet Laureate will perform will recognize three honorary game captains that the NFL has chosen for the Super Bowl:

  • Los Angeles-based teacher Trimaine Davis, who secured laptops and Internet access for his students so that they’d be able to access remote learning during the pandemic.
  • Suzie Dorner, a nurse at the Tampa Bay General Hospital, who manages the COVID intensive care unit.
  • James Martin, a Marine veteran who’s helped families connect virtually through his work with the Wounded Warrior Project.

Violist Eliesha Nelson: "Some of the work I've done with Dr. J Lanye on spirituals and the Cleveland Orchestra online MLK concert presentations"

MLK Celebration | Eliesha Nelson, Cleveland Orchestra violist | Adams' L'extase d'Amour

The Cleveland Orchestra

January 27, 2021

Contemplate on Cleveland-based composer H. Leslie Adams’s “Ecstasy of Love for Viola and Piano” performed by Cleveland Orchestra violist Eliesha Nelson and pianist Dianna White-Gould. 

Eliesha Nelson writes:

Since Black History Month is coming up, I thought you might be interested in getting links to some of the work I've done with Dr. J Lanye on spirituals and the Cleveland Orchestra online MLK concert presentations.



Pianist Dr. J LanYe' and violist Eliesha Nelson perform "Spirituals For Piano And Viola" on YouTube

Eliesha Nelson
Quincy Porter Complete Viola Works
Sono Luminus

Dr. J LanYe'

Dr. J LanYe' writes:

Good Morning:

I am writing to you due to the suggestion from Eliesha Nelson, violist in The Cleveland Orchestra..

She thinks you would be interested in our new recording and my grand opera, "HIGHWAY TO CANAAN," which chronicles a treacherous journey via The Underground Railroad from Kingsport, Tennessee to Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada, in 1851.. 


The subtitle is "Black Spirituals Matter as the Backbone of American Music."

It is unique, informative and uplifting.

Of particular interest is the fact we are two Black women musicians from different generations who are sharing our abilities to help this world at a most delicate time in history.

To learn more about me please go to my website....

To read about us on the recording, click "show more" beneath the YouTube video screen.

Thank  You,
Dr. J  LanYe'


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

OperaWire: Pittsburgh Opera’s February Recitals Focus on Music of William Grant Still, Florence Price, & Great American Songbook


January 27, 2021

By Francisco Salazar

Pittsburgh Opera has announced two free broadcasts performances in February.

The opera company announced that it will present “Songs from the Heart: A Valentine from Pittsburgh Opera” and “I, Too, Am America: The Music of William Grant Still and Florence Price.”

The 45-minute “Songs from the Heart” concert will be presented on Feb. 14 at 5:30 p.m. and will feature a variety of amorous arias, tender duets, and romantic ensembles spanning both operatic favorites and beloved selections from the Great American Songbook. It will also feature the company’s resident artists and will be live streamed free on both Pittsburgh Opera’s YouTube Channel and Facebook page.

Meanwhile, “I, Too, Am America” will be presented on Friday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m

John Malveaux: "LA Opera Welcomes Tenor Russell Thomas as Artist in Residence"

John Malveaux and Russell Thomas

John Malveaux of writes:

Congratulations to Russell Thomas.  He (right) shared this photo backstage at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion some years ago. I hope to see him again soon.  See



Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Royal Scottish National Orchestra presents Richard Thompson's World Premiere Suite from "The Mask in the Mirror" and Florence Price's Violin Concerto No. 2, 29 Jan.

Bill Doggett writes:

Working with 
Richard Thompson
 since 2012, I am delighted to share the announcement about the World Premiere of his "The Mask In The Mirror" Suite, based on his Chamber Opera on January 29th performed by The Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
Also featured is African American composer, 
Florence Price
's Violin Concerto.#2     
Currently residing in California, Richard Thompson is a native of Aberdeen, Scotland, who attended concerts of The Royal Scottish National Orchestra as a teenager.

To access the Digital Concert link: visit 
Richard Thompson's website speaks about the music and story of "The Mask in The Mirror."

Colour of Music Festival Presents Virtual Performances February 3-7, 2021

Photo Credit: William Struhs

CHARLESTON SC January 26, 2021Entering its ninth season (2021), the Colour of Music Black Classical Musicians’ Festival will honor Black History Month with a series of chamber presentations circling the globe showcasing the Festival’s unique versatility.

Unlike previous years, the Festival is adjusting to accommodate the uncertainty of COVID-19 and will present a series of virtual performances February 3-7, 2021 in many of Charleston’s landmark historic venues as well as a special presentation from Nashville, TN.

Staying true to the Festival’s mission of highlighting black classically trained artists and giving black composers a platform and focus, an array of canonized standard chamber repertoire from baroque, early classical to modern works by noted western composers along with a substantial segment of black female and male composers will be featured. 

“We eagerly look forward to sharing and building upon our unique ability to pivot with the times and conditions now in our path. Although we will miss the in-person connection with our patrons, this year’s artistic offerings are sure to satisfy chamber music enthusiasts and the like,” says Festival’s founder and artistic director Lee Pringle. 

2021 highlights will include chamber selections featuring octets, duos, and individual spotlights including Felix Mendelssohn’s Octet in E-flat Major for Strings, and inspired by Florence Price’s legacy and recent notoriety, rising female black composer Valerie Coleman’s work Umoja. 

A special duo presentation will complete the musical circle with César Franck’s Sonata in A Major and Mozart’s Sonata in E Minor, k. 304 for violin and piano. Continuing the global tour, the Festival will also present a unique duo featuring violin and double bass of Astor Piazzolla’s Five Tango Sensations and Toshiro Mayuzumi’s Concertino for xylophone and piano. 

Tickets are $25 per household per performance. For access to the Festival’s Virtual Concert Hall February 3-7, 2021, visit for tickets and streaming details.


Virginia Kay: Xak Bjerken Plays Ulysses Kay's "Inventions for Piano" (1946), Recounts "Finding My Way to Kay," and Discusses him with Daughter Virginia

Xak Bjerken

Virginia Kay is the daughter of the African American composer Ulysses Kay (1917-1995), who is featured at  Virginia forwards Xak Bjerken's essay, "Finding My Way to Kay" along with a recording of him performing Ulysses Kay's Inventions. She writes:

Last November  Cornell professor Xak Bjerken  interviewed me about my Dad for their archives. He posted his performance of Dad's Inventions  along with the interview on the Cornell Center for Historical Keyboards website: <>. 

Here's wishing you the best. Stay safe and

Be well,

Monday, January 25, 2021

John Malveaux: MusicUNTOLD will revisit/broadcast the west coast premiere of composer Roy Harris 'Bicentennial Symphony' via KLBP 99.1 FM & YouTube 1 PM Feb. 12

John Malveaux of writes:

MusicUNTOLD will revisit/broadcast the west coast premiere of composer Roy Harris 'Bicentennial Symphony' staged at MLK Jr. Park June 13, 1979 celebrating the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln via Long Beach low power radio station KLBP-Broadcasting at 99.1 FM and YouTube (audio & video version) starting 1:00PM, February 12, 2021. The 'Bicentennial Symphony' is the most controversial musical statement on U.S. history, slavery, and race relations ever made by an American composer. Juneteenth was co-produced by Long Beach Central Area Association/MusicUNTOLD and the Long Beach Parks Recreation & Marine Dept. See poster courtesy of Parks Recreation & Marine. Save the date

Sunday, January 24, 2021

The Broad Stage Presents The West Coast Premiere of Heartbeat Opera’s "Breathing Free" Wednesday, February 10 at 7pm PT & Saturday, February 13 at 7pm PT

Photo: Derrell Acon, bass-baritone; Anaiis Cisco, filmmaker; Kathryn Boyd Batstone, Director of Photography (Los Angeles); Celine Layous 1st AC/Gaffer (Los Angeles)

Wednesday, February 10 at 7pm PT
Saturday, February 13 at 7pm PT

Featuring 9 interconnected music videos with music from
Beethoven's Fidelio, Negro spirituals and works by Harry T. Burleigh, Florence Price, Langston Hughes, Anthony Davis and Thulani Davis.
Each screening will be followed by a live panel discussion with artists and advocates highlighting themes surfaced in Breathing Free relating to incarcerated populations

Tickets and info at

Heartbeat Opera, the radical indie opera company “leading the charge in online opera” (Parterre) with “groundbreaking” virtual content (Operawire) that is “hacking the corporate contours of Zoom into a postmodern proscenium” (Washington Post)—announces the West Coast Premiere of Breathing Free, an ambitious filmed song cycle dedicated to the celebration of Black artistic voices.
Breathing Free builds on Heartbeat's 2018 collaboration with 100 incarcerated singers in six prison choirs, part of a contemporary Fidelio told through the lens of Black Lives Matter—a production that left Alex Ross of The New Yorker “blindsided by its impact.” Created in a time of George Floyd’s murder, a pandemic which is ravaging our prison population, and the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth—Heartbeat has curated a song cycle brought to life in vivid music videos, mingling excerpts from Fidelio with songs by Black composers and lyricists, which together manifest a dream of justice and equity.
This 45-minute “visual album” features three singers, three dancers, eight instrumentalists and a robust creative production team. Rehearsed remotely on Zoom, the cast has recorded their individual audio tracks at home, with the music team then layering the tracks together. Heartbeat’s filmmaker Anaiis Cisco collaborates with cinematographers to film the performers in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
The presentation will be livestreamed along with live opening remarks and post-screening panel discussions with artists and activists highlighting the timely themes surfaced in Breathing Free. Audience Q&A will follow the panels. Participants for each panel are TBD. The Broad Stage provided additional support for the creation of this work.

Director: Ethan Heard
Filmmaker: Anaiis Cisco
Creative producer: Ras Dia
Co-Music Director and Arranger (Fidelio)Daniel Schlosberg
Co-Music Director: Jacob Ashworth
Movement Director: Emma Jaster
Director of Photography: Kathryn Boyd Batstone (Los Angeles)
1st AC/Gaffer: Celine Layous (Los Angeles)
Director of Photography: Jacob Mallin (New York & Chicago)
1st AC/Gaffer: Matt Iacono (New York & Chicago)
Associate Movement Director: Tamrin Goldberg
Arranger (Malcolm XBalm in Gilead) & Associate Music Director: Sean Mayes
Stage Manager: Jessica Emmanus
Assistant Director: Mar Cox
Sound Editor: Gleb Kanasevich
Sound Mixer: Sam Torres
Music Assistant, Orchestra Manager & Copyist: Mona Seyed-Bolorforosh
Derrell Acon, bass-baritone
Curtis Bannister, tenor
Kelly Griffin, soprano
Randy CastilloTamrin GoldbergBrian HallowDreamz Henry, dancers
Also featuring the voices of more than 100 incarcerated singers and 70 volunteers 
from six prison choirs: Oakdale Community ChoirKUJI Men’s Chorus, UBUNTU Men’s Chorus, 
HOPE Thru Harmony Women’s Choir, East Hill Singers and Voices of Hope
Jacob Ashworth, violin 
Marika Hughes, cello 
Miki Sasaki, trumpets
Kyra Sims, horn 
Thomas Flippin, guitars 
Britton-René Collins, percussion 
Daniel Schlosberg, piano 
Jason Thomas, piano

Prisoners Chorus features: Laura Weiner (horn), Nicolee Kuester (horn), Clare Monfredo (cello), 
Daniel Hass (cello), Euntaek Kim (piano) and Ben Cornavaca (percussion

More Information:

Tickets are “Pay What You Wish” starting at $10 and can be purchased at

Saturday, January 23, 2021 Tony-nominee Melissa Errico And Acclaimed Pianist Lara Downes Release Single of ‘Happiness Is Just A Thing Called Joe’

January 22, 2021

Tony Award-nominee Melissa Errico and Billboard Chart-topping pianist Lara Downes have come together to collaborate on a new recording of the Harold Arlen/Yip Harburg classic: “Happiness Is Just A Thing Called Joe.” Released today, the new recording and accompanying music video, filmed remotely in both California and New York, marks the first collaboration between one of America’s most beloved singer/actors in Errico and one of its most admired and protean pianists in Downes. Coming together from their two coasts to celebrate the New Year — and with a small significant smile towards another Joe and January 20 — the two women artists are proud to salute the unique mix of charm and liberal consciousness that mark all of E. Y. Harburg’s lyrics, matched with the melodic flow of Harold Arlen’s music. It is now available on for digital download and streaming on all platforms via this link:

Maestra Jeri Lynne Johnson: Black Pearl @ Davos!!!: "See Me: A Global Concert" Sunday, January 24, 2021 at 1:00 PM EST

Join Maestra Johnson, Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra for

See Me!: A Global Concert

from the World Economic Forum.  

This unique cinematic journey is a  shared 

expression of trust, connection and hope! 

Featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma and orchestras and choirs 

in Beijing, Florence, Kabul, Philadelphia, Vienna and São Paulo!  

 Just click "RSVP" on this email to  livestream the concert

@ 1:00 EST, Sunday January 24

Check out my website:

Friday, January 22, 2021 "Evensongs," "The Fugitive" and "Sentence" from Ulysses Kay's "Fugitive Songs" were streamed Jan. 18 and can be heard for an extended period

Ulysses Kay (1917-1995)



Jan. 19, 2021

Music Review: enSRQ stirs imagination in streaming concert

Gayle Williams

EnsembleNEWSRQ served as our guide once again in the adventures with new music in Monday’s program “Solitude and Suffrage,” performed live online from the First Congregational Church and available for an extended period on the group’s website

Two central works on the program featured the impressive vocal dexterity of mezzo soprano Thea Lobo. “Fugitive Songs” (1950) by Ulysses Kay is a set of eight songs. The three selected for this program, “Evensong,” “The Fugitives” and “Sentence,” are based on texts by early 20th-century poets Ridgely Torrence, Florence Wilkinson and Witter Bynner, respectively. Here we did have familiar musical language, easy to sink into and absorb the meaning of the text. Lobo’s collaborator was pianist Jesse Martins, who fit easily as her partner in reaching for the deeper phrasing and meaning of the score.

Auburn Symphony Orchestra: Dr. William Chapman Nyaho is Pianist in Brahms Piano Quintet Streaming February 18, 7:30 PM PT

Dr. William Chapman Nyaho

Auburn Symphony Orchestra

Auburn, Washington

Listen from home:

Creatively Connected: Brahms Piano Quintet

This work unfolds over four movements and offers a little something for every type of listener. In the opening movement there is angst and tension yet also vivacity and spirit. In the slower second movement one is serenaded with majestic melodies and a soothing musical atmosphere. The third movement pulses with restless rhythms and the finale brings the work to an exalted conclusion. This is 19th century chamber music at its zenith.

Emilie Choi and Sol Im, violins
Betty Agent, viola
Brian Wharton, cello
William Chapman Nyaho, piano

Piano Quintet in F minor, op. 34 - Composed by Johannes Brahms
I. Allegro non troppo
II. Andate, un poco adagio
III. Scherzo: Allegro
IV. Finale: Poco sostenuto - Allegro non troppo

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Sphinx Organization: Register Now: SphinxConnect 2021, January 28 to 30!

 Join fellow colleagues in the field and be inspired at SphinxConnect 2021: UNITY, the annual epicenter where artists and leaders in diversity meet from January 28 to 30!

Our digital convening features over 70 speakers exploring topics related to diversity and inclusion in the arts including:

  • Artful Resilience: how musicians innovate in crisis with Jennifer Bowman, Leslie DeShazor, Thomas Mesa, and Elena Urioste examine unique examples of innovation that may lay the pathway for a reimagined normal
  • Socially Vocal: a discussion on race and identity in the arts with Christopher Anderson, Tehvon Fowler-Chapman, Krystal Glass, and Beth Stewart discuss ways to use social platforms to effect change
  • Audiences over the Airwaves with Lara Downes, Terrance McKnight, Garrett McQueen, and Gretchen Nielsen explore the possibility of encouraging positive and constructive change through podcasts and radio
  • Casting Change with Alejandra Valarino Boyer, Julia Bullock, Raquel González, Yuval Sharon, and Davóne Tines share their vision of equity in the opera world
  • Friday Plenary with Baritone and 2019 Sphinx Medal of Excellence recipient Will Liverman interviewed by Sphinx LEADer Alexa Smith. Will has been cast to star in The Metropolitan Opera's fall 2021 reopening production of "Fire Shut Up in My Bones," the first opera by a Black composer to be performed on The Metropolitan Opera stage

Feb. 12: Baritone Will Liverman Releases "Dreams of a New Day: Songs by Black Composers" on Cedille Records

 Baritone Will Liverman Releases 

Dreams of a New Day: Songs by Black Composers

Featuring Liverman and Pianist Paul Sánchez in Works by
Damien Sneed, Henry Burleigh, Leslie Adams, Margaret Bonds,
Thomas Kerr, Shawn Okpebholo, Robert Owens, and Robert Fariña

Out February 12, 2021 on Cedille Records

Pre-Order Dreams of a New Day

“a voice for this historic moment” – The Washington Post 

New York, NY (January 21, 2021) — On Friday, February 12, 2021, baritone Will Liverman releases Dreams of a New Day: Songs by Black Composers with pianist Paul Sánchez on Cedille Records. The album features Damien Sneed’s I Dream a World, Henry Burleigh’s Five Songs of Laurence Hope, H. Leslie Adams’ Amazing Grace, Margaret Bonds’ Three Dream Portraits, Thomas Kerr’s Riding to Town, the world premiere recording of Shawn E. Okpebholo’s Two Black Churches, Robert Owens’ Mortal Storm Op. 29, and Liverman on piano in his own arrangement of Richard Fariña’s Birmingham Sunday. The liner notes of the album are written by Dr. Louise Toppin, a noted performer, scholar, and teacher who specializes in the concert repertoire of African American composers and is currently Professor of Music (Voice) at the University of Michigan.

Liverman says, “Right now, it is more important than ever to celebrate the contributions of Black composers, and I’m honored to give voice to the art songs on this album. There was an enormous amount of material to choose from; Black composers wrote so much more than just spirituals! The album is dedicated to my late mentor Robert Brown who influenced the lives of so many students through his many years of teaching at The Governor’s School for the Arts in Richmond, Virginia. I hope this album inspires you to keep striving to have our voices heard and to speak up constantly and work towards equality.”

Damien Sneed composed I Dream a World for the 2017 Carnegie Hall debut recital of baritone Justin Michael Austin. Sneed’s setting musically depicts the hope for the next generation with rich jazz harmonies, while ascending chords inch toward freedom on the line “where every man is free.” The final statement of the song, “I dream a world, my world,” leaves the listener with an unresolved final cadence that conveys a feeling of uncertainty.

Henry “Harry” Thacker Burleigh (1866 – 1949) is credited with being the first composer to create spirituals in an art song format for presentation in concert halls. He attended the National Conservatory where Antonin Dvořák was the Director and interactions led to one of the most unlikely, yet powerful collaborations in American musical history. Dvořák, who heard Burleigh singing spirituals, learned more about this vernacular song from him and Dvořák encouraged Burleigh to use the wonderful source material of his people in his own composition. The Five Songs of Laurence Hope composed in 1915 were written to the poetry of Adela Florence Nicholson (1865–1904), who wrote under the pseudonym “Laurence Hope.” Her poetry reveals, autobiographically, the tumultuous relationships in her life. She suffered from mental health issues throughout her life and when her husband died suddenly, she consumed poison and committed suicide at the age of 39. 

The song “Amazing Grace” is commonly mistaken for a spiritual, as it was composed at the height of the slave trade. It was not created by enslaved Africans, however, but penned by slave ship captain John Newton (1725 – 1807). Newton wrote his famous words after praying for deliverance during a storm at sea and his subsequent conversion from slave ship captain to abolitionist is underscored in the opening line, “Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound) That sav’d a wretch like me!” This song has become a prayer for comfort in times of tribulation and is frequently heard at funerals. Harrison Leslie Adams’s Amazing Grace, written in 1992, bespeaks a gratitude that bubbles with exuberant energy and hope. Adams’s composition takes the listener on a journey that pays homage to the enslaved Africans of Newton’s version as he expresses optimism for a brighter future for African Americans.

One of Langston Hughes’s favorite contemporary collaborators was Margaret Allison Bonds (1913 – 1972). A native of Chicago, Bonds and her mentor, Chicago transplant Florence Price (1887–1953), made history by winning the city’s famed Wanamaker competition. Not only did Bonds win first prize for one of her songs, but she also became the first African American to perform with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Many of her songs reflect pride in her race, including the Three Dream Portraits written to texts of Hughes in 1959 for two prominent African American opera singers: Adele Addison and Lawrence Winters. Written at the height of the civil rights movement, they express the Black pride that became a hallmark of the blossoming Black Arts movement. 

Thomas Kerr (1915 – 1988), was a pianist and organist who graduated from the Eastman School of Music with three degrees in piano and composition. His musical output included solo voice, piano, instrumental, and choral works. He was Professor and Chair of the Piano Department at Howard University, where his work as a composer and teacher influenced generations of music students. His Riding to Town (1943) is a setting of the poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872–1906), the first African American poet to achieve international fame. His poetry and stories depict the oppression of African Americans during the Jim Crow era. As with Hughes, his authentic poetic voice has continued to inspire contemporary composers to produce new musical settings.

Will Liverman commissioned Shawn Okpebholo (b. 1981) to write Two Black Churches (2020) for this album. The new work is a musical diptych of two poems by Dudley Randall and Marcus Amaker that explores the impact of two watershed moments in the American Civil Rights Movement – the Birmingham church bombing in 1963 and the Charleston church shooting in 2015. The text of the first movement is a poem by Dudley Randall, Ballad of Birmingham, a narrative account of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing from the perspectives of the mother of one victim and her child. Stylistically, this movement juxtaposes 1960s Black gospel with contemporary art song. Subtle references to the civil rights anthem, “We Shall Overcome,” and the hymn, “Amazing Grace,” are also heard. The song concludes with four sustained soft chords resembling church bells. Each of the chords is composed of four notes that punctuate and amplify the four young lives lost. The text of the second movement is a poem written especially for this composition by Marcus Amaker, poet laureate of Charleston, South Carolina, called The Rain. This poem poignantly reflects the shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church. Set in the coastal city of Charleston, which often floods, The Rain is a beautifully haunting metaphor on racism and the inability of Blacks in America to stay above water — a consequence of the flood of injustice and the weight of oppression. In this composition, the number nine is significant, symbolizing the nine people who perished that day. Okpebholo is Professor of Music Composition at Wheaton College Conservatory of Music and a widely sought-after and award-winning composer, most recently winning the American Prize in Composition (2020).

Composer Robert Owens selected poems representative of a dark time in Langston Hughes’s life to tell the story of a dark time in his own personal history: the Civil Rights era and Martin Luther King’s assassination. Using poems from the 1920s (“A House in Taos”), 1930s (“Genius Child”), and 1940s (“Little Song,” “Jamie,” and “Faithful One”), he created the song cycle Mortal Storm, Op. 29 in 1969. Growing up in Denison, Texas, Robert Owens (1925 – 2017) faced his own “storms” of racism. As a result of this racial tension, he left the United States in 1968 to pursue opportunities in Germany and never returned to live in the U.S. He made his career in Germany as a pianist, composer, actor, and director.

The album closes with Will Liverman on piano in his own arrangement of Robert Fariña’s Birmingham Sunday. Richard Fariña (1937–1966) wrote Birmingham Sunday in 1964 to memorialize the bombing in 1963 of the 16th Street Baptist Church that killed Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins, and Cynthia Wesley. The melody is borrowed from the Scottish folk tune “I Loved a Lass” (aka “The False Bride”). The piece was first performed by Fariña and his sister-in-law, Joan Baez. Liverman’s arrangement serves as a fitting final tribute to the struggles of African Americans. It indicates past and present injustices and provides an opportunity to refocus and reframe the American promise of equality for all its citizens. While making for a poignant and powerful conclusion to this musical offering it also serves as a reminder that the struggle against racism in America has not concluded but is very much a present struggle.

About Will Liverman
Called “one of the most versatile singing artists performing today” (Bachtrack), baritone Will Liverman continues to bring his compelling performances to audiences nationwide. He will star in the Metropolitan Opera’s re-opening production of Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up In My Bones in fall 2021, in addition to reprising his roles in Akhnaten (Horemhab) and The Magic Flute (Papageno) during the Met’s 2021-2022 season. Liverman’s new opera, The Factotum, written together with DJ/recording artist K. Rico, will also be developed in partnership with Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Ryan Opera Center this season. 

Will is the recipient of the 2020 Marian Anderson Vocal Award, and recently received a 2019 Richard Tucker Career Grant and Sphinx Medal of Excellence. Liverman’s recent engagements include the Met Opera’s holiday production of The Magic Flute, in addition to its premiere of Philip Glass’ Akhnaten and Malcolm Fleet in Nico Muhly’s Marnie. He also recently appeared as Pantalone in The Love of Three Oranges at Opera Philadelphia, as Silvio in Pagliacci at Opera Colorado, as Schaunard in La bohème with Santa Fe Opera, Dallas Opera and Opera Philadelphia; and as The Pilot in The Little Prince with Tulsa Opera. His album, Whither Must I Wander, with pianist Jonathan King, out January 2020 on Odradek Records, was named one of the Chicago Tribune’s “best classical recordings of 2020” and BBC Music Magazine praised Liverman’s “firm, oaky baritone with a sharp interpretive attitude… admirable poise and clarity of intention.”

Liverman has performed the leading role of Figaro in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia with Seattle Opera, Virginia Opera, Kentucky Opera, Madison Opera and Utah Opera. He originated the role of Dizzy Gillespie in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird with Opera Philadelphia, in addition to performing the role with English National Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Madison Opera, and at the Apollo Theater. Other highlights include the role of Tommy McIntyre in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of Fellow Travelers for its Lyric Unlimited initiative; Papageno in The Magic Flute with Florentine Opera and Central City Opera; his role debut as Marcello in La bohème with Portland Opera; his debut with Seattle Opera as Raimbaud in Le Comte Ory; Tarquinius in The Rape of Lucretia and Beaumarchais in The Ghosts of Versailles with Wolf Trap Opera; Andrew Hanley in the world premiere of Kevin Puts’ The Manchurian Candidate with Minnesota Opera; Sam in The Pirates of Penzance with Atlanta Opera; the Foreman at the Mill in Jenůfa and the Protestant Minister in Menotti’s The Last Savage with Santa Fe Opera.

Expanding into the concert repertoire, Liverman performed the title role in a concert version of the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, and was a featured soloist in Brahms’ Requiem with the Las Vegas Philharmonic, in Handel’s Messiah with the Seattle Symphony, in Carmina Burana with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and in Mozart’s Mass in C Minor with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. He was also recently featured in the Sphinx Virtuosi concert at Carnegie Hall, in addition to appearing in Schubert’s Die Winterreise at The Barns at Wolf Trap Opera. 

Liverman has received a 2017 3Arts Award, a George London Award, and was recognized as a classical division Luminarts Fellow by the Luminarts Cultural Foundation. In 2015, he won the Stella Maris International Vocal Competition, received the Gerda Lissner Charitable Fund Award, and received a top prize from Opera Index. He was a grand finalist in the 2012 Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions, and additionally was a first prize winner in the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition, a grand prize winner of the Bel Canto Foundation Competition, and a recipient of a Sara Tucker Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation.

Liverman concluded his tenure at the prestigious Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2015. He previously was a Young Artist at the Glimmerglass Festival. He holds his Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School, and a Bachelor of Music degree from Wheaton College in Illinois. Visit for more information.

About Paul Sánchez
Praised as a “great artist” (José Feghali, 2013; Cecilia Rodrigo, 2019), Paul Sánchez is a pianist and composer. Of his recent engagements performing music of Ives and Gershwin for Music Unwound: American Roots, a program funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Joseph Horowitz stated, “Sanchez’s account of Rhapsody in Blue was original – the most bewitchingly lyric I have ever encountered.” In a review of Sánchez’s CD Magus Insipiens, featuring three of Sánchez’s song cycles, Colin Clarke writes, “This is one of the most beautiful discs in my collection... haunting in the extreme,” while WFMT’s Henry Fogel, former president of the League of American Orchestras and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, states, “This is hauntingly beautiful music... works of originality and a distinctive musical personality.”

\With seven published CDs as of 2020, new releases in 2020–2021 include Mysteria Fidei, featuring new music by David M. Gordon; an album of new solo piano works by Graham Lynch; and spirituals of Shawn Okpebholo in collaboration with J’Nai Bridges and Will Liverman.

Dr. Sánchez is Director of Piano Studies at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. He is a co-founder of the San Francisco International Piano Festival, Charleston Chamber Music Intensive, and Dakota Sky Foundation. A Fulbright fellow from 2005– 2007, Sánchez earned his Master of Spanish Music degree under Maria Teresa Monteys and Alicia de Larrocha. He studied with Tamás Ungár at Texas Christian University, graduating summa cum laude, with honors; and with Douglas Humpherys at the Eastman School of Music, where he completed his Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees. Sánchez is a New Piano Collective artist.  

About Cedille Records
Launched in November 1989 by James Ginsburg, Grammy Award-winning Cedille Records (pronounced say-DEE) is dedicated to showcasing and promoting the most noteworthy classical artists in and from the Chicago area.

Cedille has recorded more than 180 Chicago artists, with more than 80 making their professional recording debuts on the label. Its catalog includes the world premieres of more than 300 classical compositions.

The audiophile-oriented label releases every new album in multiple formats — physical CD, 96 kHz , 24-bit, studio-quality FLAC download, and 320 Kbps MP3 download — and on major streaming services.

An independent nonprofit enterprise, Cedille Records is the label of Cedille Chicago, NFP. Sales of physical CDs and digital downloads and streams cover only a small percentage of the label’s costs. Tax-deductible donations from individual music-lovers and grants from charitable organizations account for most of its revenue.

Cedille’s headquarters are at 1205 W. Balmoral Ave., Chicago, IL 60640; call 773-989-2515; email: Website:

Cedille Records is distributed in the Western Hemisphere by Naxos of America and its distribution partners, by Naxos Music UK, and by other independent distributors in the Naxos network in classical music markets around the world.

Dreams of a New Day: Songs by Black Composers Track List

1. Damien Sneed (b. 1979) – I Dream a World [2:39]

Henry Burleigh (1866 – 1949) – Five Songs of Laurence Hope [15:48]
     2. I. Worth While [2:00]
     3. II. The Jungle Flower [3:16]
     4. III. Kashmiri Song [3:26] 
     5. IV. Among the Fuchsias [2:57] 
     6. V. Till I Wake [3:57]

7. Leslie Adams (b. 1932) – Amazing Grace [3:19]

Margaret Bonds (1913 – 1972) – Three Dream Portraits [5:52]
     8. I. Minstrel Man [2:01]
     9. II. Dream Variation [2:07]
     10. III. I, Too [1:39]

11. Thomas Kerr (1915 – 1988) – Riding to Town [3:09]

Shawn E. Okpebholo (b. 1981) – Two Black Churches* [15:23]
     12. I. Ballad of Birmingham [9:19]
     13. II. The Rain [6:01]

Robert Owens (1925 – 2017) – Mortal Storm, Op. 29 [10:17]
     14. I. A House in Taos [3:21]
     15. II. Little Song [2:19] 
     16. III. Jaime [0:37]
     17. IV. Faithful One [1:42]
     18. V. Genius Child [2:08]

19. Richard Fariña (1937 – 1966) arr. Will Liverman – Birmingham Sunday [3:50]
     Will Liverman, piano

TT – 60:52

*World Premiere Recording