Arts Blog

Black History Month 2022 spotlight image

Black History Month at All Classical Portland

All Classical Portland is celebrating Black History Month throughout February by featuring music by Black composers and performing artists. We are proud to share a broad and diverse library of the music we love all year round, and this month we are shining a special spotlight on the extraordinary contributions to classical music made by Black artists.


Programming Highlights & More

  • Club Mod – Earlier this month, host Andrea Murray presented a program centered around works by Black composers, featuring music from pianist Lara Downes‘s new recording venture “Rising Sun Music.” Plus works by Shelley WashingtonJoseph C. Phillips Jr.Jessie MontgomeryJeff ScottPamela Z, and more!
  • The Score – On Saturday, February 19, 2022, host Edmund Stone presented a special episode titled Contemporary Black Cinema, featuring music from some recent films with predominantly Black casts. Listen to the episode again in our Audio Archive or at thescore.org until March 5, 2022.
  • The Concert Hall – On Saturday, February 19, 2022, host John Pitman featured two major recordings made by the Oregon Symphony when James DePreist was their Music Director: Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 2 and Korngold’s F-sharp Minor Symphony. You will also hear Schubert’s Message of Love, sung by the iconic Marian Anderson (DePreist’s aunt)!
  • ICAN – The International Children’s Arts Network (ICAN) presented their Audio Book Tour of Who Is Florence Price? on Sunday, February 20, 2022. The book, written by students from the Kaufman Music Center in New York, outlines the life of a brilliant musician who prevailed against race and gender prejudices to become the first Black woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer and be performed by a major American orchestra in 1933.
  • ARTS BLOG – Black Renaissance Woman: Meet Musicologist-Pianist Samantha Ege: All Classical Portland’s Music Researcher & Archivist Emma Riggle‘s conversation with with Dr. Samantha Ege of Oxford University, one of the world’s foremost specialists on Florence Price and her circle.
  • ICAN – The International Children’s Arts Network’s latest blog by Emma Riggle Explores Black Art History.

Read on for a few highlights of the works and composers you will hear all month long, on All Classical Portland.

Joseph Bologne Image of Joseph Bologne courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Symphonie Concertante in E-flat Major, Op. 12

by Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799)

Bologne published this work around 1777 in Paris. The Symphonie Concertante, a two-movement orchestral genre, was popular in France during Bologne’s career. The composer would have conducted works like this with his virtuoso orchestra, the Concert des Amateurs.

Read more about Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Image of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Clarinet Quintet in F-sharp minor, Op. 10

by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912)

Coleridge-Taylor composed his clarinet quintet in 1895, while he was studying composition at the Royal College of Music with Charles Villiers Stanford. Stanford was so impressed with the work that he showed it to Joseph Joachim, the famous violinist and close friend of the late Johannes Brahms (composer of another masterful clarinet quintet).

Read more about Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

Clarence Cameron White Image of Clarence Cameron White courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Levee Dance, Op. 27, No. 2

by Clarence Cameron White (1880-1960)

American composer and violinist Clarence Cameron White studied at Oberlin and in Europe, where one of his teachers was Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Levee Dance, a work for violin and piano, became one of his most popular works after Jascha Heifetz adopted it as a favorite encore. The work incorporates the melody of the spiritual Go Down, Moses.

Read more about Clarence Cameron White.

R. Nathaniel Dett Photograph of Nathaniel Dett courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Cinnamon Grove: A Suite for Piano

by R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943)

Canadian composer Nathaniel Dett published this lyrical four-movement piano suite in 1928. Each movement is prefaced with a poetic quotation: one from John Donne, one from Rabindranath Tagore, one from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and one from an African-American spiritual.

Read more about Nathaniel Dett.

Florence Price Portrait of Florence Price by G. Nelidoff, courtesy of Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries.

Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major

by Florence Price (1887-1953)

This concerto was among the many lost Florence Price scores rediscovered in a Chicago attic in 2009. The score entered the archives at the University of Arkansas, where violinist Er-Gene Kahng is on the faculty. Kahng made the concerto’s world-premiere recording in 2018.

Read more about Florence Price.

Duke Ellington Image of Duke Ellington courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Suite from "The River"

by Duke Ellington (1889-1974)

Ellington’s ballet The River explores the symbolic power of water by depicting the journey of a stream toward the sea. He composed the ballet in 1970 for Alvin Ailey and the American Ballet Theatre. Ailey reported that Ellington studied historic works like Handel’s Water Music, Debussy’s La Mer, and Britten’s Peter Grimes as he was composing this ballet.

Read more about Duke Ellington.

William Levi Dawson Image of William Levi Dawson courtesy of the African American Registry.

Negro Folk Symphony

by William Levi Dawson (1899-1990)

Dawson composed his Negro Folk Symphony in 1934 and revised it in 1952. The work is based on melodies from African-American spirituals which the composer said he “learned them at his mother’s knee.” Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra premiered the work at Carnegie Hall.

Read more about William Levi Dawson.

William Grant Still Image courtesy of the Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs Division.

Symphony No. 2 in G minor, “Song of a New Race”

by William Grant Still (1895-1978)

American composer William Grant Still intended his Second Symphony to be the finale to a trilogy of works examining race. Following his symphonic poem Darker America (1924), and his First Symphony, “Afro-American” (1930), Still’s Second Symphony (1937) explores a hopeful future of an integrated America.

Read more about William Grant Still.

Valerie Coleman Portrait of Valerie Coleman by Matthew Murphy, courtesy of the composer's website.

Portraits of Josephine

by Valerie Coleman

Contemporary American composer Valerie Coleman wrote Portraits of Josephine in 2006. Her wind ensemble, Imani Winds, recorded it the following year. This suite for wind quintet is a musical biography of the jazz icon and civil rights activist Josephine Baker.

Read more about Valerie Coleman.

Damien Geter Portrait of Damien Geter by Rachel Hadiashar, courtesy of the composer's website.

String Quartet No. 1, “Neo-Soul”

by Damien Geter

All Classical Portland had the privilege of commissioning this work from local composer Damien Geter in 2020. Geter is an acclaimed bass-baritone who has appeared with companies including the Metropolitan Opera, Seattle Opera, and Portland Opera, and currently serves as the Interim Music Director & Artistic Advisor for Portland Opera. His compositions include choral, operatic and symphonic works. This spring, All Classical Portland will broadcast the world premiere performance of Geter’s An African American Requiem, commissioned by Resonance Ensemble and performed by the Oregon Symphony.

Read more about Damien Geter.

RII finalists announcement RII finalists announcement.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

Through our Recording Inclusivity Initiative (RII), All Classical Portland is helping to update playlists across the country by producing new high-quality recordings of classical music by composers from historically underrepresented communities.

Launched in 2021, RII’s five finalists include three Composers in Residence. Jasmine Barnes and Lauren McCall are among these visionary artists, helping to shape the future of classical music. Read more about Jasmine and Lauren below, and visit allclassical.org/recordinginclusivity to learn more about the initiative.

Lauren McCall at All Classical Portland. Lauren McCall at All Classical Portland.

A Spark and a Glimmer

by Lauren McCall

Contemporary American composer Lauren McCall is an educator from Atlanta, Georgia. Her compositions have been performed around North America and Europe, including her piece for piano, Shake the Earth, which was performed at the Morehead State University’s Contemporary Piano Festival. This piece was also performed in Eugene, Oregon at the Oregon Bach Festival Composers’ Symposium.

Her latest work A Spark and a Glimmer will be premiered in 2022 by All Classical Portland and the Recording Inclusivity Initiative.

Read more about Lauren McCall.

Jasmine Barnes by Christine Dong Jasmine Barnes by Christine Dong.

Taking Names

by Jasmine Barnes

Contemporary American composer Jasmine Barnes is a Baltimore native and a multifaceted musician who embraces any writing style of music using a variety of instrumentation and specializes in writing for the voice. Barnes has held many residencies including a composer fellowship at Chautauqua Opera, and was recently commissioned by The Washington National Opera in celebration of the Kennedy Center’s 50th year anniversary.

Her new piece Taking Names will be premiered in 2022 by All Classical Portland and the Recording Inclusivity Initiative.

Read more about Jasmine Barnes.

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