Friday, February 16, 2018

John Malveaux: Out of the Silence: The Resurrection of Florence B. Price

Florence Price at the piano, 1941  
Photo: Arkansas Educational Television Network

John Malveaux of writes about Classical KUSC Radio in Los Angeles:

Kathy Crandall (LA Opera League) shared the following with MusicUNTOLD:

KUSC's Open Ears is an online series about composers, musicians, and conductors who deserve more recognition. Read about the first African American woman to have a symphonic work performed by a major orchestraMarian Anderson's performance in front of Lincoln Memorial and the incredible, all-too-brief life of conductor Calvin Simmons.
Click here to read all of KUSC's Open Ears articles

Posted by Gail Eichenthal · 2/12/2018 

About Open Ears: So many people who made invaluable contributions to classical music were underappreciated in their time, or have been nearly lost to history. That’s why KUSC is starting Open Ears, a series of stories about composers, musicians, and conductors who deserve more recognition. You can learn more and explore other articles here.

Florence B. Price, the first African American woman to have a symphonic work performed by a major orchestra, is having a moment. I think there’s a good chance that moment will stretch into decades. Her music–largely unheard since her death in 1953–is constantly surprising: the sound world of Wagner and Dvorak infused with quirky changes of mood and pace, striking combinations of instruments and the unmistakable roots of her Southern heritage, the strains of gospel and Juba.

Price was born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1887. She attended the New England Conservatory, one of few prestigious music schools of the era to admit Black students. To escape the rampant racism of her native state, she moved to Chicago, where she intensified her musical studies and began to blossom as a composer of songs, piano pieces, and eventually four symphonies and other orchestral scores. In fact, it was conductor Frederick Stock and the Chicago Symphony that gave that historic performance of Price’s First Symphony in 1933. Though all this, she was also raising children and dealing with a messy divorce.

John Malveaux: Composer Tania León posted this historic picture on her Facebook page of an American Composers gathering

John Malveaux of 

Composer Tania León posted this historic picture on her Facebook page
American Composers gathering! - at Noel DaCosta's home.

Sitting: Arthur Cunningham, Noel DaCosta, Tania J Leon, Julius Eastman,
Dorothy Rudd Moore. 

Standing: Talib-Rasul Hakim, Hale Smith, Oliver Lake and Carman Moore.

Marlon Daniel: It's hard to believe, but classical music is finally getting somewhere with its race problem

Conductor Marlon Daniel with the Chineke! Juniors 
Credit: Chineke! Juniors

The Telegraph


15 February 2018

Late last month (actually 31 Jan), in a sea of bad or worrying news, there was actually something to cheer about. The names of the young musicians who’ve made it through to the category finals of the BBC Young Musician 2018 were announced. Among them were a fair sprinkling of musicians from a BME (black and minority ethnic) background. And no less than four of them were members of the Chineke! Juniors, an orchestra set up for gifted BME children. That’s 16% of the total number of finalists.
For an organisation that’s only two years old, that’s an astonishing result. These kids are going places, and one day we may well see them on a bigger stage. To take just one example: Elodie Chousmer-Howelles is forging ahead with her violin studies, and is now pondering whether she should study at the Royal Academy of Music or the Juilliard School in New York. And it shows that change is possible, in an area where it seemed it would never come – partly because no-one thought it was needed. The racial bias in classical music was a fact that lay shamelessly open, in full view. And it still does today. It’s plain every time you go to an orchestral concert, and behold that sea of white faces below on the platform – and all around in the audience. Yet for decades no-one noticed, as if were actually invisible.

Now it’s no longer invisible. The view in recent years is that if the ‘high arts’ such as theatre and high opera and classical music are to be publicly funded, then they must be open to every part of our ethnically and culturally diverse population. And if that means instituting ‘affirmative action’ programmes to encourage participation, as practitioners and audience members, so be it. Both here and in the US, there has been in upsurge to encourage more BME participation in the arts. 

Within classical music, progress so far has been frustratingly slow.  A survey in the US in 2016 found that while take-up of Asian players had risen to 9%, Hispanics and African-American players accounted for only 4.3% of the total. A researcher at King’s College London surveyed the British orchestral scene in 2015 and found that out of 629 professional orchestral players, “only 11 (1.7%) could be identified to be from a Black and Minority Ethnic background.”

If change is to come, it must start at the bottom, in schools. Music Colleges and conservatoires can only train talented BME musicians if they turn up in some numbers at auditions. And that means the cultural barriers to participation need to be to be torn down, so that the BME children feel able to participate without feeling they’re out of place and don’t belong.


Which is where Chineke! comes in. As the orchestra’s founder, the unbelievably dynamic and visionary double-bass virtuoso Chi-chi Nwanoku, never tires of pointing out, ‘what you don’t see you can’t be’. If you’re a gifted musical BME child looking out at an all-white orchestra, the thought might well cross your mind, ‘That looks fun, but I don’t belong there.’ The existence of Chineke! Juniors changes all that at a stroke. Speak to the parents or the children, and they all say the same things. On the one hand, it’s exactly like any other top-level youth orchestra, such as the National Children’s Orchestra. It aims high, and so gives the children something to aspire to. But unlike those orchestras, it makes BME children feel comfortable with themselves. They no longer stand out.

John Malveaux: Angel Blue will return to the Metropolitan Opera and sing the role of Musetta in La Boheme from Sept. 25 2018 - Dec. 13, 2018

Angel Blue backstage at Wigmore Hall

John Malveaux of 

Los Angeles HS for the Arts and UCLA graduate ANGEL BLUE will return to the Metropolitan Opera  and sing the role of Musetta in La Boheme from Sept. 25 2018 - Dec. 13, 2018. Congratulations Angel. May your father RIP. See

Thursday, February 15, 2018

John Malveaux: Oshawa [Ontario] Express: Oshawa raised musician releases first classical album [Gina Williams]

Gina Williams

John Malveaux of 

Feb 15, 2018 pleasure to meet and speak at length with Canadian female composer Gina Williams  . Please see recent article and website to hear her first classically inspired CD

African Musical Arts: Ritz Chamber Players Perform Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson's String Trio at St. Louis, MO Concert Friday, Feb. 16; Black Umfolosi Feb. 17, 8 PM

Ritz Chamber Players

Performing the following works:
MOZART Flute Quartet No. 1 in D major, K 285
SAINT-SAËNS Fantaisie for Violin and Harp, Op.124
DEBUSSY Sonata for flute, viola and harp
PIAZZOLLA arr. by Michael Maganuco
for flute, harp, violin and cello (Dedicated to Ann Hobson Pilot ) 


Welcomed by the African Musical Arts,

Black Umfolosi
Saturday, February 17, 2018, 8 p.m.
Lee Theater, Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Ctr.
University of Missouri-St. Louis

Welcomed by the African Musical Arts,

Wendy Hymes, flute/ Marie Jureit-Beamish, piano

In Concert 

Music by African & African American Composers

Sunday, February 25, 2018, 7:30 p.m.
West Palm Beach, Florida

Welcomed by the African Musical Arts,

Much gratitude to all of you who help us articulate our mission to empower communities through the enriching power of music. Thank you for helping to support children, youth, and audiences in our St. Louis community and beyond. Thank you for supporting a little arts organization in St. Louis doing great things, locally, nationally and globally...

To learn more about what your donation supports visit:
Thank you for your support!

OperaCréole has been nominated by Big Easy Entertainment Awards for its productions of "La Flamenca" and "Treemonisha"

Givonna Joseph writes:

We are happy to announce OperaCréole’s wonderful news!

                         24th Annual Tribute To The Classical Arts
Thursday, March 8th, 2018 11 am – 2 pm
The Hotel Monteleone, 214 Royal Street
Produced by Big Easy Entertainment Awards to benefit  
The Foundation for Entertainment Development & Education (FEDE)

You Have Been Nominated For The Following Award(s):

Best Mixed Scale Opera Performance:
Opera Creole – Givonna Joseph, Director Maxim Samarov, Conductor
Marigny Opera House

Opera Creole & Cripple Creek Theatre Company – Emilie Whelan, Director Francis Scully, Conductor
The Music Box Village

Thanks to Gambit, and all our outstanding singers, musicians- especially Dr. Wilfred Delphin, our founding pianist- set, costume, and community partners for making our work come to life!

See all the nominees in Gambit newspaper in the stands now!! The news and ticket information is also online at
Thank you to all of you who have supported us along the way!
Send us lots of luck! Please come out to the luncheon if you can.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 Leo Brouwer Interview & World Premiere, Sor, Bartok, & more [58:57]

Afro-Cuban Composer Leo Brouwer

This week’s edition of Classical Guitar Alive! features an interview with Leo Brouwer and the world premiere recording of his piece for guitar quartet and orchestra, “Gismontiiana” based on the music of Brazilian composer Egberto Gismonti, and music by Fernando Sor, Bela Bartok, and a Scottish folk dance setting by Kennedy-Fraser. American Eric Owens and South African Pretty Yende have been nominated for the 2018 International Opera Awards

Eric Owens

Pretty Yende

2018 International Opera Awards sponsored by

Eric Owens and Pretty Yende have been nominated for the 2018 International Opera Awards.  
Winners will be announced at a red carpet ceremony on Monday 9th April.

Award-Winning Pianist Rebeca Omordia Explores Her African Heritage on "Ekele: Piano Music by African Composers" on the Heritage Label




Rebeca Omordia, a prize-winning classical pianist, explores the music of her Nigerian heritage on her new CD 'Ekele, Piano Music by African Composers' (HTGCD 188), featuring music of a number of composers from Nigeria, both living and recent, whose music has remained largely unknown in the West. This collection showcases the works of Ayo Bankole, Fred Onovwerosuoke and Christian Onyeji, and is designed to bring this music to a wider audience.

Rebeca Omordia was born in Romania to a Romanian mother and a Nigerian father and is a great advocate of Nigerian classical music. She graduated from the National Music University in Bucharest and was awarded scholarships to study at Birmingham Conservatoire and later at Trinity College of Music. She won international competitions in Romania and Hungary and was awarded the Delius prize in 2009, which led to a collaboration with Julian Lloyd Webber, playing with him at Wigmore Hall and King’s Place and on Radio 3. She plays regularly with the leading Romanian Orchestras and has performed in the UK with such artists as Raphael Wallfisch, Chi-Chi Nwanoku, Elizabeth Llewellyn and Mark Bebbington.

The CD opens with the remarkable Second Piano Sonata of Ayo Bankole, subtitled ‘The Passion’ which is clearly inspired by the last days of Christ. Despite his tragic murder at only 41, and that of his wife, Bankole was able to leave a notable body of music, including two piano sonatas, of which ‘The Passion’ is particularly impressive, clearly showing his Christian inspiration.

In great contrast in terms of scale and inspiration, are two much lighter suites by Bankole, of which the better-known is the African Suite, dating originally from 1957. This is followed by The Nigerian Suite in which the section entitled ‘Variations for Little Ayo’ was written for the composer’s son, Ayo Junior, now an established composer in his own right. Ayo Jnr’s sister, Femi, was the inspiration and dedicatee of ‘Ya Orule (Borrow a Roof!).

Ayo Bankole’s example led the way for later composers such as Fred Onovwerosuoke, now known internationally from his chant ‘Bolingo’ used in the 2006 film The Good Shepherd, with Robert de Niro. His ‘24 Studies in African Rhythms’ is arguably the most important work by a black Africa composer for solo piano to have appeared in recent decades.

The youngest of the three composers on this disc is the Igbo musician Christian Onyeji, who has studied and worked almost entirely within the African continent, and the three final pieces are characteristic works of the South African Batswana tribe - ‘Echoes of Traditional Life’, the shorter study ‘Ekele’ (‘Greeting’), and the composer’s own solo piano transcription of his choral piece ‘Ekele Diri Chineke’ (‘Thanks be to God’), which has achieved a notable measure of popularity throughout Africa in both its original and transcribed versions.

Antony Barlow, Arts Publicity