Variations, Reflections and Responses to America The Beautiful
The Independence Day holiday is often the kickoff for family vacations, road trips and the like. Especially this year. One pianist, Min Kwon, decided to celebrate the holiday with a premiere of works composed on the theme of America The Beautiful. She marshaled 75 composers to write their own take on the patriotic tune in what she called the America/Beautiful Project, now on You Tube.
It’s been a tough year and a half for just about everyone. Classical music organizations are no different. The League of American Orchestras recently held its 2021 virtual conference to take a look at the orchestral landscape after the trials of 2020. So how does it look for the Austin, Texas Symphony?
The Musician As Athlete
If you like classical music AND football or sports of any kind, it’s not that far afield for you to imagine musicians are like pro athletes. They suffer the same type of injuries but don’t make the same kind of money to treat those injuries. In comes the Musician Treatment Foundation from Dr. Alton Barron, which treats musicians for little or no money.
As we move deeper into the difficulties 2020 has brought us, one New York based opera company is doing a deep dive into its programming. Heartbeat Opera has produced a 6 part visual album highlighting the music of Black composers. It’s called Breathing Free.
SO WHAT’S NEXT?
Auditions are coming up for a new opera company in Houston for singers of color. We talk to the founder of I Colori Dell’opera, Errin Hatter. Send in your string quartet for the competition String Quartet Smackdown. Discover “To America”, a film from the Harlem Chamber Players in honor of James Weldon Johnson with poetry by Langston Hughes, and hear a musical conversation between Malcom X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr in a new composition by Rudy Perrault on a new album of music by Haitian composers called Tanbou Kache. It was produced by cellist Diana Golden.
This Show Is In Honor Of George Floyd
This June 2020 edition of Classical Music In Color is mostly a concert of music composed by African-Americans in classical music that’s about injustice. Most of the music you’ll hear was composed before the murder of George Floyd but which, sadly and horribly, resonates even more now. I’d like to thank the Sphinx Organization for allowing me to play The Seven Last Words of the Unarmed. Actress Jennifer Lewis for her performance and composition of Take Your Knee Off My Neck, and Composer Charles D. Dickerson III for producing a video to go with his work: This Is Why We Kneel. Dickerson runs the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles.
FEEDING THESPIS – Please hear THE REDNECK GRAIL by Allyson Currin of Washington, DC. It’s a play about a young woman in search of something she doesn’t think exists. She’s doing it for her ailing grandfather and meets some curious characters in her search.