New Albums by Black Composers. Afton Battle Resigns
This particular Classical Music in Color is truly just that. Several albums are out now featuring the music of Black composers. Listen for new albums from William Grant Still, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and coming up, a live performance of George Walker’s music. Finally, Afton Battle is leaving the Fort Worth Opera after only 2 years as General and Artistic Director.
Is Diversity in Classical Music a Fad? Are There Any Black Women Classical Guitarists?
There’s encouraging news from the Institute for Composer Diversity. An increasing number of orchestras and other classical groups are performing works by women and BIPOC composers. A new vocal competition has been created without all the rules that keep some people out. A classical guitarist wins the Sphinx MPower Grant seeking to expose more Black women classical guitar composers. An African-American is the winner of the American Composers Orchestra’s EarShot Readings Commission with his composition Wraith Weight.
Angel Joy Blue vs Blackface
Blackface. A word and an action that draws gasps and anger and in some cases, a shrug. It motivated one international opera singer to back away from performing a cherished role. Her name is Angel Joy Blue. The interview here on this August 2022 edition of Classical Music In Color took place BEFORE her withdrawal from Arena di Verona. It does offer a glimpse of the woman who would make this decision.
Other items on the show:
The Baltimore Symphony announces a new hire.
Return to the “90 with Orchestra Noir.
The Black Fiddlers of Monticello
When we think of Black people in 19th century America, violin music doesn’t often come to mind. David McCormick, the Executive Director of Early Music America researched Monticello’s Black Fiddlers and found a tome of research on them which included the Black male children of our third president, Thomas Jefferson with their enslaved mother Sally Hemings. There is even a documentary about it. Also on the show, pianist and producer Lara Downes talking about her difficulty in coming up with a Juneteenth playlist. Your Classical also posted one for the nation’s latest federal holiday.
Castle Of Our Skins Celebrates Its First Decade
10 years is a long time but it seems like it was just yesterday for Ashleigh Gordon of Castle of Our Skins. The organization is celebrating its first decade with a fundraiser for the National Negro Opera Company House and other events. There’s also tributes to George Floyd from the Colour Of Music Festival and Memorial Day remembrances from the Air Force.
A DAY OF SOLIDARITY
What are you doing on Monday, May 9th and perhaps thereafter? The newly formed Black Orchestral Network is calling for a Day Of Solidarity in their quest to get more orchestras to hire more Black musicians. Alexander Laing says they will also be looking to make other changes to American orchestras.
If you choose to support other BIPOC classical music groups, here’s a link that will get you started: The Lift Music Fund
The Violin Conspiracy
The publishing world has been rocked by the book, The Violin Conspiracy. Mainly because this first novel by author Brendan Slocumb, details the career of an African-American violinist and the difficulties that came with it. But its central story is of a valuable family heirloom that was stolen at the worst possible moment. Also in this edition of Classical Music In Color, hear when the first performance at Carnegie Hall by an all Black orchestra will happen. Also watch classical music’s next generation of BIPOC musicians and apply for fellowships and grants from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Black Violin and the Louisville Orchestra.
Adolphus Hailstork says he’s HOT!!
It was quite a wonderful surprise when my main event interview on this episode actually called me back HIMSELF within a half hour of my calling his contact number. It is an interview with Mr. Adolphus Hailstork, a composer extraordinaire about his latest premiere: A piece about George Floyd to be performed by the National Philharmonic.
Also on this episode, hear about a celebration of Women composers, the South Bend Symphony holding symposiums about the lack of diversity in orchestral repertoire and there’s a Fellowship available for musicians too.
Deep River: Black Currents in Classical Music
Black History Month is officially over but many programs celebrating the month were recorded for online viewing. One such concert is Deep River: Black Currents in Classical Music. The live stream of the event is still available to view. There’s also a Black History Month playlist from SPHINX, a new album of George Walker’s piano sonatas from pianist Steve Beck. Early Music America is offering a bit of help to musicians still struggling from the pandemic. There’s also an upcoming concert version of the opera Emmett Till.
A Night Of Black Excellence And More…
There are hundreds of groups celebrating Black History Month. One of them is the Fort Worth Opera who’s presenting its 2nd annual Night Of Black Excellence. It features lots of local talent and Met Opera Soprano Karen Slack. Find out what’s new with the music of Florence Price, and there’s a Midwestern premiere of a concert play about Joseph Boulogne.
Violinist Randall Goosby’s Bold Debut Album
Violinist Randall Goosby represents a new, fresh generation of classical musicians. With his debut album ROOTS, he’s redefining and/or adding composers to the traditional canon. He performs the music of mostly African-American composers on the album.
Here are the links to the events mentioned in the Coda section of this January 2022 edition of Classical Music In Color.
Your Orchestral Season Is Becoming A Bit More “Colorful”
Orchestral leaders, conductors, music directors and others are looking to include more composers of color and women in their upcoming seasons. Since many are unfamiliar with composers of color and their music, they’re looking at at least two websites: The Institute For Composer Diversity and The African Diaspora Music Database.
AND here are the links to the events mentioned in the Coda section of this October 2021 edition of Classical Music In Color.
The Colour of Music Festival, The Florence Price album from The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Oakland Symphony’s memorial concert for its long time conductor Michael Morgan, who died in August.
The Death Of Conductor Michael Morgan And Re-Contextualized Music From Curtis Stewart
The classical music world mourns the death of the long time conductor of the Oakland Symphony, Michael Morgan. How did his unorthodox choices work for this rare Black conductor? Curtis Stewart, a violinist and composer, finds his voice on his unusual album Of Power. Amanda Gorman’s poem from the inaugural inspired a new composition and a performance video. There’s more good news about the works of Joseph Bologne. The Met Opera gets ready for Fire Shut Up In My Bones.
They Still Want To Kill Us and Lowak Shoppala’ – Chickasaw History and Culture
This episode of Classical Music In Color shows just how rich and colorful our classical music world can be. Composer Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate reveals the history and culture of the Chickasaw Nation in the soundtrack to Lowak Shoppala’ Fire and Light. You can see a theatrical production of it here. Daniel Bernard Roumain revels in the sunshine after the storm with They Still Want To Kill Us.
Here are links to the items mentioned in the Coda.
That Time He Wouldn’t Sing: Ryan Speedo Green
Bass-Baritone Ryan Speedo Green says he’s happy to talk about his background as a juvenile delinquent before he started singing opera. He gets the opportunity every time he’s engaged as an Artist In Residence. This time it’s for the Texas Opera Alliance.
Here are a few more:
The Baytown Symphony has appointed it’s first African American Conductor in Orchestra’s History.
The Harlem Chamber Players are commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Adolphus Hailstork composed “Tulsa 1921 – Pity These Ashes, Pity This Dust”. The free online program will stream on Juneteenth – June 19, 2021.
The people at the University of Minnesota Music Library realized they didn’t have much in the way of music from BIPOC musicians and composers. Now they’re attempting to diversify their collection.
Good Intentions, Early Music And Artina McCain
As we move closer to the end of the pandemic, there’s hope that live, in person, performances will start again. When they do happen, many mainstream classical much groups are hoping to show off a little more diversity than in 2019. NIMAN, The National Instrumentalist Mentoring and Advancement Network is one group looking to add some color to the nation’s orchestras when they return from the virtual space. Dr. Artina McCain is hoping to go on tour with her Gold Medal winning album Heritage. Black musicians performing Early Music are looking at increasing the numbers in their ranks. Also on the show, The Oberlin Conservatory’s questionable apology, the Fall River Symphony performing a season of music by Black composers and there’s information about a huge number of competitions listed in the Musical America 2021 GUIDE TO TOP COMPETITIONS.
The March-April 2021 edition of Classical Music In Color is posted here in two parts.
CELEBRATION and LOVE
On this, the February 2021 edition of Classical Music In Color we hear from two next/new/now classical music creators. Joseph Phillips about his mono-opera The Grey Land and Will Liverman, Baritone, about his new album, Dreams Of A New Day. Two men who’s work is the personification of the first Black History Month since the death of George Floyd.
There is also information about music scholarships for the younger set.
Tyshawn Sorey, Lawrence Brownlee and 2020’s Grip on 2021
Even though 2020 still has a grip on 2021, there are attempts to move in a different direction in this new year. Much of what we learned how to do during the pandemic year of 2020 is now (almost) muscle memory. In this, the January 2021 edition of Classical Music In Color, listen to Video Chat Variations – Autoschediasms by composer Tyshawn Sorey’s. It’s a “new age” way of composing music with Alarm Will Sound’s Alan Pierson. Then stay tuned for a fun interview with Tenors Lawrence (or is it Larry?) Brownlee and Michael Spyers about their new album of Rossini duets, Amici e Rivali. Also, hear about the first ever prize being offered for Opera Librettists.
Also take note:
The San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM), San Francisco Symphony, and the President’s Advisory Council on Equity and Inclusion at SFCM have extended the deadline to apply for their Emerging Black Composers Project to February 1, 2021.
Also take note: