Monday, February 13, 2012

John Malveaux: 'Southeast Symphony Orchestra 64th annual concert celebrating African-American History Month in Music'

[Anthony R Parnther]

New music director and conductor Anthony Parnther confidently set the stage for the February 12, 2012 concert and a new critically needed role for the Southeast Symphony Orchestra when he projected that future African American History Month concerts may be unnecessary because works by African American composers will be performed at every concert. His strategy appears not to exclusively program African American composers but to consistently expose and educate audiences of neglected but worthy to be performed music and commissioning new works. I noticed the orchestra included some significant additions including Bob Watt, French Horn (retired from Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra). 

The first half offered the “STAR SPANGLED BANNER” arranged by Dean Dixon; “BIG MEDISONAL CEREMONIAL” by Gary Powell Nash; “MY LORD WHAT A MOURNING” by Adolphus Hailstork; “MOTHER AND CHILD from Suite for Violin and Orchestra” by William Grant Still, Violin soloist- William Fitzpatrick; “NEW MORNING FOR THE WORLD: DAYBREAK OF FREEDOM” for Narrator and Orchestra by Joseph Schwantner, narrator - William Allen Young. The first half was a connecting bridge for me after attending THE AFRICAN AMERICAN SONG ALLIANCE Conference Roots and Branches at Claire Trevor School of the Arts-Music University of California, Irvine on Feb 10 and 11. I sat near and briefly chatted with composers Gary Powell Nash and Adolphus Hailstork.

The second half began with the world premiere of "SUBTLE HUES OF BLACKBIRDS" by Renee' C. Baker who also guest conducted her premiere. Vocal solos of AMAZING GRACE by Lattrice Lawrence (soprano), A CITY CALLED HEAVEN by Bradley Baker (baritone), and "HIS EYE IS ON THE SPARROW" by Maiya Sykes (soprano) were all arranged by Kenneth Applegate. The final selection in the program was "AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL" music by Samuel A Ward, arranged by Carmen Dragon. The much deserved encore was "WADE IN THE WATER" with the three soloists combining distinctly different audience pleasing vocal agilities.

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