Thursday, December 31, 2015

Derbyshire Times: American pianist to give RCH recital [Lara Downes will perform 'Fantasie Negre' by Florence B. Price on January 24, 2016, from 11 AM]

Lara Downes

Florence Beatrice Smith Price (1887-1953) is profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works Lists by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma,

Pianist Lara Downes is scheduled to perform Florence B. Price's Fantasie Negre at the Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham, England on Sunday, January 24, 2016, beginning at 11 AM:

Thursday 31 December 2015

Lara Downes will be the next performer in the Sunday Morning Series,
piano recitals that take place at Nottingham's Royal Concert Hall.

She will be in action from 11am on Sunday, January 24.

Lara Downes is an American pianist and her recital will have a dance theme.
The programme for the hour-long recital includes Weber’s Invitation To The Dance, Ravel’s La Valse, Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue, plus Fantasie Negre by Florence Price, the first African-American woman to be recognised as a significant composer.

Bob Shingleton of 'On An Overgrown Path' Questions the Continuing Miniscule Numbers of Conductors of African Descent at Orchestral Concerts

Rudolph Dunbar

Our friend Bob Shingleton forwards this post from his U.K.-based blog On An Overgrown Path

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Why do we still not believe in Negro symphony conductors?

Four years ago an Overgrown Path post recounted how in the 1950s classical music super-agent Arthur Judson told the African American conductor Everett Lee "I don't believe in Negro symphony conductors", and another post described how Rudolph Dunbar died in 1988 a forgotten and marginalised figure, despite becoming the first black conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic. That is Rudolph Dunbar in the photo; the Guyanese musician - who was a friend of the controversial child prodigy Philippa Schuyler - was a talented conductor and an outstanding clarinetist, who in 1939 wrote the standard work on the instrument, the 'Treatise on the clarinet (Boehm system)'. Despite achieving considerable success on the podium, Rudolph Dunbar's career faltered and stalled, and another post discussed allegations that a senior figure in the BBC had derailed his career, allegations that were subsequently supported by an authoritative source.

Arthur Judson stigmatized Negro symphony conductors more than fifty years ago, while allegations that Rudolph Dunbar's career suffered because he was one of a group of West Indians in the UK who campaigned openly against racism and colonialism relate to the 1980s, and, of course, times have changed. Or have they? The BBC Proms are a microcosm of the classical music establishment, and in a 2011 post I asked - How many black conductors at the BBC Proms? The answer is that in more than 2500 concerts over the 120 year history of the Proms there have been just three black conductors; Isaiah Jackson in 1987, Wayne Marshall in 1998, and Bobby McFerrin in 2003. Less than 0.002% minority representation is unacceptable by any standards, and what is more serious is there is no evidence of improvement: during the last ten years of our supposedly multicultural society there has been not one black conductors on the podium in the Royal Albert Hall. There is disturbing evidence that the nuanced racism of Arthur Judson lingers on in classical music, as the black American conductor and composer Kevin Scott explained recently on Facebook: 
Now many of you will say, "it should be talent, not color" that is the requisite to perform just about anywhere, and you are right - talent and vision are indeed the key requisites to be taken seriously and nurtured. But for some reason or another, there are those that hold the power of position that looks at a black man or woman who can conduct a symphony orchestra and wonders why are they in a field that is Euro-centered and not devoting themselves to their musical roots.
The BBC Proms provide a convenient measure of inclusivity, but it is unfair to demonise just one concert series: because the same picture will be found at other prestigious concert series around the world. Quite rightly there has been much criticism of the underrepresentation of women in classical music, but much less about the even more acute underrepresentation of musicians of colour. Very good work has been done in improving the representation of women; one of the results is that the iconic Last Night of the Proms has been conducted twice by Marin Alsop in recent years, and commendably one of these concerts featured a commission by the Jamaican composer Eleanor Alberga. But I have a dream that one day we will see a black conductor wielding the baton for Jerusalem and Land of Hope and Glory at the Proms. So let's make 2016 and the years that follow the decade when musicians of colour take their rightful place on the podium. 

My thanks go to Kevin Scott and John McLaughlin Williams, whose tireless advocacy of musicians of colour inspired this post, and to my Guyanese wife Sorojini, who encouraged me to follow the path of Rudolph Dunbar. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.  

The Times of Trenton, NJ: Classical Music: Local pianist releases 2 new albums [My Cup Runneth Over, The Complete Piano Works of R. Nathaniel Dett; Cyril Scott]

Clipper Erickson

 R. Nathaniel Dett: MY CUP RUNNETH OVER
Navona Records NV 6013 (2015)

 is profiled at AfriClassical.comwhich 
features a comprehensive Works List 
and a Bibliography by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma, 

on December 30, 2015

While the rest of the world is looking ahead to a new year, Clipper Erickson is on the look-out for new repertoire.
"I think it's important to record things that are off the beaten track," he says.  "We tend to get stuck into hearing the same pieces over and over again.  Not that there's anything wrong with those pieces, but it's good to really explore and get a full idea of what has been going on in various periods in musical life.  I think there is something important in a mission of bringing music that isn't known to a wider audience."
The omnivorous pianist, who is on the faculty of Rider University's Westminster Conservatory of Music in Princeton and Temple University's Boyer College of Music and Dance in Philadelphia, has two new releases of "new" music that has languished in obscurity for decades.
Erickson's research for a dissertation on the piano works of R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943) qualifies him as a world authority on this neglected composer, who was born in what is now Niagara Falls, Ontario.  The grandson of Underground Railroad refugees, Dett became an important figure in American music of his time.  Yet he is remembered today, if at all, for a lone piano suite, "In the Bottoms," or perhaps only for its two-minute concluding dance, "Juba."
Erickson is the first to record Dett's complete piano works.  His performances have been issued on an album titled "My Cup Runneth Over," on the Navona Records label, for which he provides his own liner notes.  The two-CD set was made possible, in part, through the financial backing of St. Michael's Church in Trenton, where Erickson serves as organist.
"I did two programs there of Dett's music, which included piano works, some of the vocal music, and also poetry readings," he says.  "Dett was a published poet."
He was also the first musician of African descent to earn a B.A. in Music from the Oberlin Conservatory.  Dett pursued graduate studies at Columbia University, Northwestern University, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, the Eastman School of Music, and the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau, in France, under the supervision of legendary pedagogue Nadia Boulanger.
He himself went on to become an influential teacher.  His works won prizes and his concerts and recitals received favorable notices.  He was a gifted writer and choral conductor.  All in all, his posthumous neglect is puzzling.
"I think there are a lot of reasons for that," Erickson says.  "One is that he doesn't fit into our stereotypes.  He's a black composer that doesn't compose in a jazz idiom, and that's what people usually assume when they run into an African-descent composer – oh, it's going to sound like jazz.  It has roots in German Romanticism, so the music sounds a lot like MacDowell or Amy Beach or Griffes or Grieg.  All of those influences are there.  Of course there are strong ethnic influences, as well, but it's very much rooted in European classical music."
With the notable exception of "In the Bottoms," most of Dett's scores have also been long out of print.  Be that as it may, Erickson speculates that the music isn't flashy enough to attract the interest of many pianists.
"Pianists kind of like things that go over well in competitions, and Dett's music is very personal," he says.  "It's very poetic and intimate.  Those things usually don't fly in competitions."
He hopes to have a hand in changing that.  He is currently involved in the planning of a Dett festival at Temple, which is projected to take place in the fall.  "We'll have choral performances and keyboard performances.  The dance department is very involved.  They've already choreographed a couple of Dett piano pieces.  I'm hoping also to start a piano competition.  I figure that's a good way to get Dett's music played."
With violinist Andrew Kirkman, Erickson has also been active in reviving the music of English composer Cyril Scott (1879-1970).  A new album, "Dawn and Twilight," documents the first and last violin sonatas of the composer, sometimes referred to, rather reductively, as "the English Debussy."  For decades, Scott's memory was kept alive through his piano miniatures, especially "Lotus Land."
"The First Violin Sonata had never been recorded in its original version," Erickson says.  "Scott revised it later, about fifty years after he wrote it.  It was really quite a ground-breaking piece.  It was written in 1908.  It was quite avant-garde for its time and has never been played after its first few performances, which is the case with a lot of Scott's music."
In the case of the Violin Sonata No. 4, it had never even been heard.  Kirkman and Erickson received the manuscript directly from the composer's son, Desmond, now in his 80s and living in Toronto.  They gave the first performance of the piece in 2013.
"It's kind of amazing how Cyril Scott was completely eclipsed," Erickson says.  "He was really the leading light of the British avant-garde in the early 20th century.  But by the time the '30s and '40s came along, he was completely forgotten.  It was rather amazing to the two of us that this Fourth Sonata had never even been performed.  It was written in 1956."
The album appears on the Affetto Records label, a recent venture of producer and recording engineer John C. Baker.

Comment by email:
Thanks again for posting!  Have a wonderful New Year and best wishes for 2016.  Clipper  [Clipper Erickson]

John Malveaux: Edward J. Blum, co-author of “The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America” joined Roland Martin Wednesday on “NewsOne Now”

The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America
Edward J. Blum & Paul Harvey
The University of North Carolina Press (2014)

John Malveaux of 

Please see discussion after 30 second commercial The light skinned Julianne is my cousin Dr. Julianne Malveaux. 

John Malveaux

NewsOne Now
Edward J. Blum, co-author of “The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America” joined Roland Martin Wednesday on “NewsOne Now” to discuss how the American image of Jesus has been used to advance white supremacy around the world. Listen to their conversation [above].

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

John Malveaux: Gail Eichenthal, Executive Producer USC Radio, shared this CBS News story with MusicUNTOLD: "Changing the color of classical music"

CBS News: An all African American orchestra plays at the Colour of Music festival

CBS News: Clarinetist Robert Davis, center, plays with other musicians from the Colour of Music

John Malveaux of 

Gail Eichenthal, Executive Producer USC Radio, shared this CBS News story with MusicUNTOLD:

CBS News

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- A festival in South Carolina is trying to change the color of classical music. Less than four percent of classical American symphony musicians are African American, but that's not because of the talent pool.
Maestro Marlon Daniel conducts not only the orchestra, but the entire festival called the Colour of Music, now in its third year.

"You know a lot of musicians of color get pigeon-holed into jazz and hip-hop and all these things. It's a big stereotype," said Marlon.
"A lot of people think there are not any musicians of color out there doing classical music, when there actually are, in reality, tons of us."
Clarinetist Robert Davis says in most symphonies he sticks out as a black classical artist, but not here.

"You usually see the same ones, you know. But then I came down here, and there's a whole other group," Davis said of the festival. "It's like where are they coming from? So I was really shocked about that."
The festival also highlights black classical composers, like Adolphus Hailstork.
His "Church Street Serenade" was performed just one block away from the historic black church where a white gunman opened fire and killed nine people in June.

© 2015 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.                      

Bass-Baritone Eric Owens Performs with New York Philharmonic in 'Wagner and Strauss' January 7, 8, 9 & 12, 2016

New York Philharmonic

Kelly Hall-Tompkins: Music Kitchen Celebrates 10 Years: Music Kitchen has presented 80 concerts since inception in 2005

 It's been a wonderful year and we have much to be grateful for! 
Help us look to a wonderful new 2016 by giving your
Thank you to everyone who has donated this year!!

Anthony R. Green: Castle of our Skins would like to wish all of your readers a Happy Kwanzaa and a Happy New Year!

Anthony R. Green, Composer & Performer

© 2015 Anthony Green

Anthony R. Green writes:


Castle of our Skins would like to wish all of your readers a Happy Kwanzaa and a Happy New Year!

Thank you so much!
Anthony, Ashe, Seychelle, and Adriennet

Comment by email:
Thank you so much!  Cheers and happy new year!  Anthony  [Anthony R. Green] 

Monday, December 28, 2015

John Malveaux: Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963, Dec. 11, 2015 - Jan. 29, 2016, L.A. Public Library

John Malveaux of 

The Central Library is one of only 50 sites across the United States to host this notable traveling exhibition that explores through images the historical context of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and the 1963 March on Washington. The traveling exhibition is sponsored by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of American History, in collaboration with the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Los Angeles Public Library has supplemented the exhibit with images from its Shades of L.A. and Rolland Curtis Collections, capturing a peek at the everyday lives of African American communities in the first half of the 20th century, after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and leading up to the March on Washington.

The exhibit and related programs are free.

ArtsMemphis: National Endowment for the Arts supports our Fellows Program!

ArtsMemphis 2014 Fellow, Lecolion Washington, presents his case for support to peers and faculty 

ArtsMemphis 2015 Fellows at the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention left to right: Tierney Bambrick (Opera Memphis), Amy Ruggaber (Playback Memphis), Brittney Boyd (Crosstown Arts), Melody Barham (Soulsville Foundation), Siphne Sylve (UrbanArt Commission)

Dec. 8th, 2015

Today, the National Endowment for the Arts announced a $40,000 grant to help ArtsMemphis train emerging leaders in the nascent field of arts-driven social change.  The initiative is called the Community Engagement Fellows Program.

ArtsMemphis launched the Fellows program in 2014, with seed funding from the First Tennessee Foundation.  Each Fellowship award comes with a stipend to participate in a six-month, hands-on curriculum, featuring leading scholars and practitioners.  Over the past two years, the program has graduated 30 Fellows from a host of different nonprofits throughout Memphis.

"Our Community Engagement Fellows serve as ambassadors to peers in Memphis and around the country at national conferences on how to use the arts to transform underserved communities," said Bruce Hopkins, ArtsMemphis Board Chair.

The Fellowship curriculum is led by nationally recognized thought leader Linda Steele, who joined ArtsMemphis as Chief Engagement Officer two years ago.  Steele is especially excited about the work that ArtsMemphis Fellows are carrying out in the Orange Mound neighborhood.  "The Fellows have been working hand-in-hand with Orange Mound residents,” Steele said, “designing arts-based projects to address the neighborhood’s self-identified needs.  And we’ve been able to fund some of the most innovative projects through ArtsMemphis."

The Fellows program is just one piece of ArtsMemphis’ larger strategy to show that the arts can be a major tool for revitalizing communities. "We’re working to place community engagement at the center of everything we do at ArtsMemphis," said President & CEO Elizabeth Rouse.

The NEA grant was awarded under the agency’s "livability" category, which is focused on projects that incorporate the arts into strategies that improve quality of life within local communities.  According to NEA Chairman Jane Chu, “Supporting projects like the one from ArtsMemphis offers more opportunities to engage in the arts every day.”

Pianist Rebeca Omordia and Filarmonica Transilvania, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, in Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Friday, January 15, 2016, 7:30 PM

Rebeca Omordia

Romanian-Nigerian pianist Rebeca Omordia announces a concert in Cluj-Napoca, Romania with Filarmonica Transilvania:
  • Filarmonica Transilvania, Cluj-Napoca
Saint-Saens Piano Concerto no 2 in G minor with 'Transilvania' Philharmonic Orchestra, Romania

By Rebeca Omordia (@RebecaOmordia

Dr. William H. Chapman Nyaho, Born Dec. 28, 1958, is a Pianist, Professor and Pioneer of Sheet Music and CDs of Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora

ASA: Piano Music by Composers of African Descent
William Chapman Nyaho, piano
MSR Classics MS1242 (2008)

Senku: Piano Music by Composers of African Descent
William Chapman Nyaho, piano
Musicians Showcase 1091 (2003)

Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora
Compiled and Edited by
William H. Chapman Nyaho
Volume 1
Early Intermediate
Oxford University Press (2007)

Dr. William Chapman Nyaho (b. 1958) is featured at He is a well-traveled recitalist with a great many residencies to his credit.  He turns 57 today, with landmark recordings and sheet music publications to his credit. His performance website is and he has a Facebook Page.

William Chapman Nyaho brings a unique cultural background and extraordinarily eclectic sense of music to the concert hall, propelling an evening of his music to, as one critic put it, "reach great heights."
His teaching experience and great sensitivity make the master classes, lectures and school activities highlights of his residencies that almost rival his exciting performances.

His performances with Susanna Garcia in the well-respected Nyaho/Garcia Duo have equally won critcial acclaim.

Nyaho's love of music, expressed through his insightful technique, creates an exciting musical experience for the experienced music devotee and newcomer alike.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Orchestra Update, League of American Orchestras: White House honors Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra

First Lady Michelle Obama, Musician Malik Johnson, Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra Executive Director Linda Edelstein

First Lady Michelle Obama said, "Arts education is not a luxury. It is a necessity," at a White House ceremony on November 17, honoring the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO) and twelve other winners of the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards. MYSO Executive Director Linda Edelstein and musician Malik Johnson accepted the honor on behalf of the Community Partnership Programs, which offer string training for third- and fourth-grade students from lower-income and minority families, ensemble performance opportunities for middle and high school students, and financial aid for lessons and transportation.                       

Joseph Conyers: At 16 "Sphinx meant to me that I wasn't alone"; Gabrielle Hooper: Sphinx "allows me to imagine a future for myself in music"

Comment by email:
Thank you very much for the post!  Take care, and Happy New Year!  Joseph Conyers

National Society of Black Engineers Appoints Constance Thompson and Stanton Hill to Executive Positions

Constance Thompson

Stanton Hill

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) has appointed two new members to the Society’s Executive Leadership Team. Constance Thompson, formerly senior  manager for Diversity & Inclusion for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), has joined NSBE as director of External and Government Affairs. Stanton Hill, NSBE’s new director of Finance and Accounting, joins the Society after serving the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). The appointments were effective Nov. 30.
NSBE, with more than 31,000 collegiate, pre-collegiate and professional members, is one of the largest student-governed organizations based in the U.S. Founded in 1975, the Society is dedicated to moving black students and professionals from underrepresentation to overrepresentation in the field of engineering. Hill, Thompson and the other members of NSBE’s Executive Leadership Team lead the professional staff at NSBE World Headquarters, which implements the policies and initiatives of the college students and young professionals comprising NSBE’s National Executive Board.
 “The National Executive Board is pleased with the value being added to NSBE’s human resources with the hiring of staff members of this caliber. We welcome Stanton and Constance to the NSBE family,” says NSBE National Chair Neville Green, the Society’s top-ranking officer, a senior majoring in chemical engineering at the City University of New York.
 “We are thrilled to have Constance and Stanton in these key positions,” says NSBE Executive Director Karl W. Reid, Ed.D. “Their skills, experience and talent will be vital as we pursue the primary goal of NSBE’s new 10-year strategic plan. The U.S. needs a big increase in its number of black engineering graduates. The nation’s demand for engineers is growing, while the percentage of African Americans entering the engineering workforce is shrinking. NSBE’s goal is to increase the annual number of African-American bachelor’s degree recipients from 3,501 to 10,000, by 2025.”
 Thompson is primarily responsible for the day-to-day management and oversight of NSBE’s strategic government policy and initiatives. She will advance NSBE’s mission and strategic plan, by collaborating with the Society’s governance, staff and liked-minded strategic partners to position NSBE as an indispensable stakeholder in advancing STEM education policy and workforce practices for blacks in engineering.
An example of this will be seen in Thompson’s management of the groundbreaking 50K Coalition. Designed to serve as a unified voice in changing the perception and persistence of underrepresented groups in engineering education and careers, the group has established a bold and unprecedented goal of producing 50,000 diverse engineering graduates annually by 2025 — a number that represents a 66 percent increase in the current annual graduation rate of Bachelor of Science in engineering degree students. Now serving more than 70,000 pre-collegiate, collegiate and professional members, the coalition is led by the executive directors of NSBE, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and will host a national strategy summit in April of 2015.
Before her tenure at ASCE, Thompson served as manager for Diversity Programs with the American Chemical Society and manager for Recruitment and Diversity Recruitment at Cornell University. Thompson earned Bachelor of Science degrees in political science and French from Virginia State University and holds a Cornell Certified Diversity Professional certification from Cornell University. A well-known and effective leader among engineering societies, she has served on numerous boards and committees that align with NSBE’s mission and strategic plan, including the American Association of Engineering Societies Diversity Working Group, as co-chair; the Greater Washington American Society of Association Executives Diversity & Inclusion Committee, as a board member; the American Association for the Advancement of Science Human Rights Coalition Service to the STEM Community Working Group, as co-chair; the Society of Women Engineers  Multicultural Committee; and the Women in Engineering Pro Active Group Diversity Committee.
As director of finance and accounting, Hill is responsible for planning, directing and supporting NSBE’s financial and accounting practices as well as its relationships with banking institutions, financial and investment committees of the National Executive Board, and the broader financial community.
Hill has nearly 10 years of cross-functional experience centered on finance, project management and program execution. During his tenure at UNCF, he held financial, strategic and analytical responsibilities that included the management of the annual operating development budget, forecasting, and process redesign initiatives for multiple departments. He designed and implemented budget and cash-flow processes to manage $30 million in grant funding and a $12-million operating budget in support of UNCF’s development operations. Most recently, he served as UNCF’s senior business analyst, forecasting financial performance and engaging in strategic planning to reshape the organization’s fundraising activities and unearth growth opportunities. Hill has a B.A. in business administration management from Morehouse College and an M.B.A. in innovation entrepreneurship and high technology from Northeastern University. He also has Project Management Professional and Certified Non-Profit Accounting Professional designations.

Founded in 1975, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) is one of the largest student-governed organizations based in the United States. With more than 31,000 members and more than 300 chapters in the U.S. and abroad, NSBE supports and promotes the aspirations of collegiate and pre-collegiate students and technical professionals in engineering and technology. NSBE’s mission is “to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.” For more information, visit


Charles Pettaway Performs Music by Composers of African Descent: Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Howard Swanson, George Walker & John D. Cooper

Charles Pettaway Performs Music by Composers of African Descent

On December 12, 2015 AfriClassical posted:

We received the recording shortly before the birthday of Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, so we made this post on December 24, 2015:

AfriClassical listed the complete contents of the CD:

Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges
Sonata No. 1 in C major (8:21)
Adagio in F minor (3:52)

Howard Swanson
Sonata (10:17)

George Walker
Piano Sonata No. 1 (16:13)

John Dangerfield Cooper
Sonata Fantasie in D minor (20:13)
The Unicorn (4:24)

The liner notes are by Charles Pettaway:

Joseph Bologne, Le Chevalier de Saint-George, his music, and life have only come to the fore of music history within the past 12 years.  However, mid-eighteenth century he enjoyed an obsequious following.  The French viewed him as "exotic."  He was a virtuoso violinist, conductor, composer, France's greatest fencer, fashion trend-setter, ladies man, and a colonel.  In short, he was a "pop star."  But in that society he was still a mulatto.
The first movement of his Sonata in C major utilizes classic sonata-allegro form. The right hand executes a sunny melody that is full of triadic and scale passages accompanied by an Alberti bass used throughout the entire composition.  The second movement is a sad lament.  The third movement is a Rondo seemingly full of personal resolve.  This work is reminiscent of Mozart's Piano Sonata K. 545.
Saint-George's Adagio in F minor is a reflective piano vocalise, replete with the emotions that he must have experienced as a black man.

Howard Swanson was born in Atlanta, Georgia on August 18, 1907.  He worked in the Post Office while he attended Cleveland Institute of Music.  Swanson won a Rosenwald Fellowship which enabled him to study composition with Nadia Boulanger.
Swanson's piano sonata was composed in 1950.  The work is written in three movements which include: Allegro risoluto, Andante cantabile, and Allegro vivo. This sonata is basically a contrapuntal work, with a bitonal two-voice texture.
The first movement introduces four themes at varying pitch levels.  The andante cantabile is in song form (ABA).  The allegro vivo is written in the style of a rondo.  The rhythm of the piece is the most outstanding feature of the work. Admittedly, the sonata is not "easy listening," but this music of a high information content has a unique character - thus my recording of the work.

George Walker's first piano sonata is a composition created by a master craftsman.  The first movement utilizes sonata-allegro form.  The opening motif focuses on quartel harmonies, which form the bulk of the first two movements. There is a restless quality portrayed by myriad pianistic coloring through the use of clever compositional devices.
The second movement states a gentle theme with six variations predicated on a Kentucky folk song "Oh Bury Me Beneath The Willow."  
The exciting third movement is a toccata in arch form.  Here Walker inserts another folk song, this one titled "Lisa In The Summertime," which occurs twice in this virtuoso showpiece.
Walker is an acknowledged American Master with the dual distinction of being a superb concert pianist in addition to being a composer whose orchestral works have been performed by every American Orchestra.

Dr. John Dangerfield Cooper (1923-2006) was a Renaissance man.  As an alumnus of Lincoln University, he served briefly as a college professor teaching ear training.  In addition to composing in nearly every musical genre, he served as a minister at several churches in the Philadelphia area and was a community activist.
Cooper's Sonata Fantasie in D minor is written in three movements.  The first movement, written in sonata-allegro form, is reminiscent of the 19th century virtuoso style utilizing sturm and drang.  The two contrasting themes provide an intense musical balance to the turgidity of this restless movement.
The second movement reminds me of a Chopin Waltz, not made for dancing but for listening.  This movement is full of musical profundity.
Movement three is entitled March Elan.  It utilizes two themes and provides a musical relief from the first two movements.
The Unicorn, a movement from Dr. Cooper's Wissahickon Suite is a lyrical work of insidious technical difficulty.

Pianist Charles Pettaway has been hailed by music critics here and abroad.  Of his playing, Le Figaro (Paris newspaper) commented, "One cannot imagine a finer performance."  Nadia Boulanger  proclaimed, "Pettaway has a god-given talent."  Earl Calloway of the Chicago Daily Defender stated after a Chicago debut recital, "One was completely astonished at Charles Pettaway's technique and smoldering musicality."

Mr. Pettaway received music degrees from University of the Arts (formerly Philadelphia Musical Academy) and Temple University.  He was awarded fellowships for study at the prestigious Tanglewood Music Center, The American Conservatory at Fontainbleu, France, and the International Ravel Music Academy in Southern France.
Charles Pettaway made his European orchestral debut appearing as soloist with the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, with Michel Plasson conducting.

In competition, Mr. Pettaway was awarded the grand prize at the Robert Casadesus Internationalk Piano Concours and was awarded first at the Bartok-Kabalevsky International Piano Competition.  He has performed in concert at many European capitals and throughout the United states.
Charlwes Pettaway is a Full Professor of Music at Lincoln University of Pennsylvania and continues presenting concerts and master classes at colleges and other venues throughout the United States.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Trombonist Martin McCain on Twitter Dec. 21, 2015: "Congrats to my grandfather on his 55th performance of Handel's Messiah"

Trombonist Martin McCain, D.M.A,, is Associate Professor of Trombone at Texas State University where he directs the Trombone Choir and Jazz Trombone Ensembles.  Here he poses with his Grandfather for the following Tweet:

"Congrats to my grandfather on his 55th performance of Handel's Messiah!"


1) By Martin McCain (@bassman781

2) By Ronald A. Johnson (@RonAJohnson

John Malveaux: Katherine Johnson calculated the trajectory for Project Mercury & the flight to the Moon; In 2015 she received a Presidential Medal of Freedom

Katherine Johnson
The HistoryMakers

John Malveaux of 

On December 21, 2015, SpaceX succesfully landed upright on solid ground at Cape Canaveral, Florida after traveling into space and back. A Look Back-In 1969, Katherine Johnson calculated the trajectory for Project Mercury and the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the Moon. See In 2015, Katherine Johnson received a Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

John Malveaux

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Sylvia Y. Cyrus: 2015 was a spectacular year for ASALH. We celebrated our Centennial with successful events across the nation.

Thanks to supporters like you, 2015 was a spectacular year for ASALH.  We celebrated our Centennial with successful events across the nation.  Our 89th Annual Black History Luncheon and 100th Annual Meeting and Conference drew a record number of attendees.  ASALH was recognized by the National Association of Multicultural Education and the Historical Society of DC for the work we have done to fulfill our mission.  Significant progress has been made on the renovation of the Dr. Carter G. Woodson National Park site in Washington, DC.  We were able to exceed our membership goals and we chartered six branches.  Because of the generosity and commitment of people like you we can end this year with a renewed spirit to continue the legacy of our founder, Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Thank you so much!   
On behalf of the Executive Council and staff of ASALH  I wish you a new year filled with peace, joy, and meaning.

Sylvia Y. Cyrus, Executive Director

Charles Pettaway Records Two Works of Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799), Afro-French Composer, Violinist and Conductor Born Dec. 25

Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799)
Violin Concertos, Op. 5, Nos. 1 & 2;
Op. 3, No. 1; Op. 8, No. 9
Bernard Thomas Chamber Orchestra
Jean-Jacques Kantorow, Violin
Arion 68093 (1990)

Charles Pettaway Performs Music by Composers of African Descent

Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges
Sonata No. 1 in C major (8:21)
Adagio in F minor (3:52)

Howard Swanson
Sonata (10:17)

George Walker
Piano Sonata No. 1 (16:13)

John Dangerfield Cooper
Sonata Fantasie in D minor (20:13)
The Unicorn (4:24)

Joseph de Bologne, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges was born on Dec. 25, 1745 on the island of Guadeloupe. Nanon, his mother, was a slave owned by Joseph's father. At age 8 Joseph was sent to school in France, arriving in August, 1753. Joseph's parents later joined him in France. In October, 1756 the 13-year-old entered the fencing academy of Nicolas Texier de La Böessière. During six years of rigorous instruction in fencing and academic subjects, Joseph gained a reputation as one of France's leading fencers.

At 17, biographer Pierre Bardin tells us, he purchased the Office of Controller Ordinary of Wars, which entitled him to use the title “Le Chevalier.” Saint-Georges was an exceptional athlete who excelled in numerous outdoor activities, including riding, skating and swimming. His musical ability and education allowed him to master the harpsichord and violin, winning dedications of works from prominent composers, including Antonio Lolli in 1764 and François-Joseph Gossec in 1766.

Gossec founded Le Concert des amateurs, a prestigious ensemble of which Saint-Georges was first a violinist, then a concert master by 1771. Two years later he had begun composing and was chosen to succeed Gossec as conductor. From 1773-1775, he produced 8 violin concertos and 2 symphonies concertantes, according to the Works List compiled by Gabriel Banat. In 1775, only two years after Saint-Georges became Conductor, L'Almanach Musical [The Musical Almanac] wrote that the ensemble was "the best orchestra for symphonies in Paris and perhaps in Europe".

Saint-Georges was appointed director of the fashionable private theater of the Marquise de Montesson and was thus able to present a number of works written by himself and others. He reached his peak as a composer by 1778, helping to pioneer the string quartet and the symphony concertante in France. Saint-Georges regularly played music with Queen Marie-Antoniette, a harpsichordist, at Versailles.

The first orchestra went out of business in 1781 for financial reasons. Masons quickly organized a replacement, Le Concert de la Loge Olympique. Saint-Georges was authorized to commission the six Paris Symphonies of Franz Joseph Haydn. He and the Concert de la Loge Olympique premiered the symphonies, Nos. 82-87, in a triumphant series of concerts in 1787. Queen Marie-Antoniette attended. Symphony No. 85 is called The Queen because it was Her Majesty's favorite.

Saint-Georges joined the National Guard during the French Revolution, but was soon appointed Colonel of the unit known as the “Saint-Georges Legion.” It was comprised of 1,000 volunteers of color. He and his troops fought with honor and distinction, but he was imprisoned on false charges. In spite of an acquittal, he was never reinstated to the French Army. In 1797 he took on his last musical ensemble, the Circle of Harmony. He died of an untreated bladder ailment on June 10, 1799. The newspapers of France paid tribute to him upon his death.

His music was no longer played often for nearly two centuries after his death. A major revival has occurred in the CD era, and many of his works are now available. Recordings prior to the disc of Charles Pettaway include Sandrine Chatron's 2009 CD of music for harp Le salon de musique de Marie-Antoinette, including the Sonata for harp and flute of Saint-Georges on the Ambroisie label; and the 2009 release of an MP3 audio download at of Natalie Hinderas Plays Sensuous Piano Music by Berg, Ravel, Ginastera, Rachmaninov, Liszt and Saint-Georges, originally an Orion LP, which includes the Adagio in F Minor (6:25) of Saint-Georges. Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges has yet to receive full recognition of his achievements in either mainstream History or the standard concert repertoire. [Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799) is profiled at]

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Thank you Bill,  Happy Birthday for Joseph Bologne  [Jean-Claude HALLEY]