Friday, May 25, 2018

Eric Conway: The Morgan State Choir "had a great full-length concert" in Vienna, Day 3










Dr. Eric Conway writes:

Our third day in Austria was not as exciting as our second.  It is fairly difficult to top a tour of the cemetery where Beethoven, Schubert, and Brahms are buried, if you are a musician - not to mention singing in one of the most famous venues in all of Europe!

We toured the Hapsburg imperial summer palace which was built on the outskirts of Vienna called Schönbrunn Castle.  The word Schönbrunn means "beautiful spring" due to an artesian well consumed by the residents.    This was a huge property with a backyard the size of a football field!  Behind the castle was a hill where one could enjoy a breathtaking view of all of Vienna. 

We toured the castle via a headset giving the history of the castle.  Unlike in Spain, this castle was very crowded where one could barely move though the residence.  All rooms were so guarded and blocked off, one could not get a true sense of the building, except for its large size of 1,441 rooms!  

After the tour of the castle, we had a group lunch eating one of the most typical Viennese dishes, Wiener Schnitzel  meaning Viennese cutlet which is a thinly breaded veal cutlet.  The portion of Wiener Schnitzel served was enormous!  Once again, we got a chance to taste the culture of the region.  It was tasty!

Our concert in the evening was at the Minoritiekirche Wien,  translated as the Vienna Minority Church!   Of course we had to chuckle at the idea of singing at the minority church - being an HBCU.  And of course I immediately asked why we were singing at the Minority Church.  Apparently there is an order of monks or friars called: the Order of Friars Minor Conventual - they were called minority monks!   The church was given to this order of monks in the thirteenth century.

We had a great full-length concert!  The space at the church was smaller than that of St. Stephen’s cathedral.  Due to a relatively more intimate setting, the sound of the music was better.  In trying to connect with the Austrian people, having taken German in college, I announced the concert in German.  Although not perfect by any means, the attempt of speaking the native tongue was certainly received well.  See photos from the day attached.

EC

National Alliance for Audition Support to Launch with Audition Intensive June 6-8

Eighteen Black and Latinx Pre- and Early Professional String Players  
to Participate in Group and Individual Performance Psychology Sessions, Instrument Lessons and Mock Auditions
 
Violinist Alex Kerr, Cellist Joy Payton-Stevens, Violist Edward Gazouleas and
Performance Psychologist Noa Kageyama, Ph.D. 
to Lead Audition Intensive

New York, NY (May 24, 2018) – The National Alliance for Audition Support (NAAS) will launch its first activities aimed at increasing diversity in American orchestras with a three-day Audition Intensive, June 6-8 at the New World Center in Miami Beach, FL. Eighteen pre-to-early professional Black and Latinx string musicians have been selected by The Sphinx Organization to participate in the three-day Intensive.
 
The Audition Intensive will give participants the opportunity to work in group and individual settings with professional musicians who understand the audition process. Sessions will include peak performance psychology training, mock auditions, and individual lessons. The mock audition jury is comprised of the professional musicians. They will provide specific feedback for each Audition Intensive participant. 
 
"New World Symphony has crafted an effective audition preparation process," said NWS President Howard Herring. "It hones specific skills: intellectual focus, preparation time management, emotional stability, aesthetic and technical confidence, and steady nerves. We are eager to make this training available through the NAAS program."
 
Ismar Gomes, a cellist that will be participating in the Audition Intensive, said "The opportunity to work intensely with outstanding coaches who regularly sit on audition committees for major orchestras will be extremely valuable, not to mention the benefits of exploring the psychological dimension of the audition process. My hope is that this Audition Intensive will help propel me to greater successes on the audition circuit and more broadly as a performer."
 
Faculty for the Audition Intensive include Edward Gazouleas, Professor of Viola at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music; Alex Kerr, Concertmaster of Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Professor of Violin at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music; Joy Payton-Stevens, cellist at the Seattle Symphony and co-founder / cellist at BetaSounds; and Noa Kageyama, Ph.D, founder of Bulletproof Musician and faculty member at The Juilliard School.
 
The Audition Intensive will end with a faculty panel—a session in which the three instrumental faculty will discuss the audition process, their own careers, and answer any questions from the participants.
 
For this first NAAS Audition Intensive, the eighteen Black and Latinx musicians were selected from the most recent Sphinx Orchestral Partners Auditions (SOPA), held during the annual SphinxConnect conference in Detroit.  SOPA brings together orchestras interested in advancing diversity in their institutions with a qualified pool of talented orchestral musicians of color, the ultimate goal being job placement. For future Audition Intensives, musicians will be selected through a competitive application process open to a range of musicians—from recent conservatory graduates to early- and mid-career professionals seeking to advance their careers.
 
Subsequent NAAS events will occur at the League of American Orchestras' 73rd National Conference June 13-15 in Chicago, in the Fall at the New World Center, and in January 2019 at the annual SphinxConnect conference in Detroit.
 
The National Alliance for Audition Support (NAAS) is an unprecedented national initiative to increase diversity in American orchestras. It will do so by offering Black and Latinx musicians a customized combination of mentoring, audition preparation, financial support, and audition previews. The NAAS is made up of The Sphinx Organization, the lead program and fiscal administrator for the Alliance; the New World Symphony,  America's Orchestral Academy; and the League of American Orchestras, representing 700 orchestras. A group of Black and Latinx professional musicians will be thought leaders, guides, and advisors for the Alliance. The NAAS is supported by a four-year grant of $1.8M from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as well as contributions from orchestras across the U.S. Learn more at www.auditionalliance.org.
 
Find more information, including faculty bios, at www.auditionalliance.org (click on the Audition Intensive tab in the middle of the page).
 

 
The Sphinx Organization is a Detroit-based, national organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. Sphinx programs reach more than 100,000 students, as well as live and broadcast audiences of more than two million annually. Sphinx works to create positive change in the arts field and in communities across the country through a variety of programs organized into four main principles: Education and Access, Artist Development, Performing Artists and Arts Leadership. Read more about Sphinx's programs at www.SphinxMusic.org.
 
The New World Symphony, America's Orchestral Academy (NWS), prepares graduates of music programs for leadership roles in professional orchestras and ensembles. In the 30 years since its co-founding by Artistic Director Michael Tilson Thomas and Lin and Ted Arison, NWS has helped launch the careers of more than 1,000 alumni worldwide. A laboratory for the way music is taught, presented and experienced, the New World Symphony consists of 87 young musicians who are granted fellowships lasting up to three years. The fellowship program offers in-depth exposure to traditional and modern repertoire, professional development training and personalized experiences working with leading guest conductors, soloists and visiting faculty. Relationships with these artists are extended through NWS' extensive distance learning via the internet. NWS Fellows take advantage of the innovative performance facilities and state-of-the art practice and ensemble rooms of the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center, the campus of the New World Symphony. Learn more about the New World Symphony at www.nws.edu
 
The League of American Orchestras leads, supports, and champions America's orchestras and the vitality of the music they perform. Its diverse membership of more than 2,000 organizations and individuals across North America runs the gamut from world-renowned symphonies to community groups, from summer festivals to student and youth ensembles, from conservatories to libraries, from businesses serving orchestras to individuals who love symphonic music. The only national organization dedicated solely to the orchestral experience, the League is a nexus of knowledge and innovation, advocacy, and leadership advancement. Its conferences and events, award-winning Symphony magazine, website, and other publications inform people around the world about orchestral activity and developments. Founded in 1942 and chartered by Congress in 1962, the League links a national network of thousands of instrumentalists, conductors, managers and administrators, board members, volunteers, and business partners. Visit www.americanorchestras.org.

Smithsonian: Exhibit Gives Charles White’s Art and Activism the Attention They Deserve


Smithsonian Magazine

Smithsonian.com

A century after his birth, an overlooked figure in the Black Renaissance is on the rise again


June 2018

Born in Chicago in 1918, the artist Charles White always received inspiration from the struggles and triumphs of black people—major historical figures like Frederick Douglass as well as ordinary people like his own mother, who worked as a maid her whole life. It was White’s mother who bought him his first box of paints, when he was 7 years old. He would go on to earn a scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago, where a major retrospective of his work opens this month. Among the pieces on display is the 1977 lithograph Love Letter III, which pairs a Madonna-like figure with a motif White often used to represent feminine life-giving and creativity: a conch shell. The work is a tribute to black women and their claim on the universal values—“love, hope, courage, freedom, dignity”—that White saw running through all his art. His favorite subjects were women, he said shortly before his death in 1979: “The positive forces flow most frequently from the female fountain.”

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Dr. Stan Ford: African American Art Songs at 2018 Salzburg Chamber Music Series

Dr. Stan Ford

Dr. Stan Ford writes:

I am pleased to announce our 2018 Salzburg Chamber Music series in the enchanting city of Salzburg, Austria where the superlative Salzburg Music Festival takes place every summer.  I am fortunate to be artistic director of this series. Renowned Artists, spanning the globe from North America, Europe to Australia have been invited to share their musical gifts with an enthusiastic audience. Among the diverse programs that will be presented, I am particularly proud to share that a recital of African American Art songs highlighting the contributions of African American composers to the American Art song repertory will be performed by soprano, Christine Jobson and pianist, Gregory Thompson. The program will feature music by male and female composers Florence Price, Robert Owens, Margaret Bonds, H.T. Burleigh and others. It will emphasize different themes that are traditionally used in the American Art song repertory and celebrate important poets.  You will notice an emphasis on text by English poet, William Shakespeare in the first set of songs and on the text of African American poet, Langston Hughes in many of the songs throughout the program. The following themes and concepts will be explored: dreams, pretty black girls, death, separation, and love. Please check out our link: www.salzburgconcerts.at  for more details and we hope to see you in July.

Sincerely

Dr. Stan Ford, professor, artistic director

Wigmore Hall: 1 June 10 PM Chineke! Orchestra Beethoven, Florence Price & Strauss

Chineke! Orchestra
(Copyright Eric Richmond)

Sergio A. Mims writes:

Members of the Chineke! Orchestra will make their debut at the famous and legendary Wigmore Hall concert hall in London in a chamber music program of Richard Strauss, Beethoven and Florence Price, the first time her music will be performed and heard at Wigmore Hall.

Wigmore Hall
  • Chineke! Orchestra
  • Mariam Adam clarinet
  • Linton Stephens bassoon
  • Nicolas Fleury horn
  • Priya Mitchell violin
  • Braimah Kanneh-Mason violin
  • Clifton Harrison viola
  • Ashok Klouda cello
  • Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE double bass
Chineke! stormed last summer’s BBC Proms with a sensational debut, one of many opportunities it creates for young Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) classical musicians. As Europe’s first majority-BME orchestra, the Chineke! Orchestra performs a mixture of standard orchestral repertoire along with the works of BME composers both past and present.

Its Wigmore debut includes impassioned music by Florence Price, the first African-American woman to break through as a symphonic composer.

  •  Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
        • Septet in E flat major Op. 20

  • Florence Price (1887-1953)
        • String Quartet in G major (European première)

  • Richard Strauss (1864-1949)
        • Till Eulenspiegel einmal anders (arr. Hasenöhrl)                                                                
               

John Malveaux: Opera League of Los Angeles Master Class with Bass Morris Robinson

Taylor Raven and Morris Robinson

John Malveaux of 
writes:

May 23, 2018 Opera League of Los Angeles presented Master Class with Bass Morris Robinson and three LA Opera Young Artists. Morris Robinson will sing Sperafucile in RIGOLETTO with LA Opera May 27, 31, and June 3, 2018. This summer LA Opera's Young Artist mezzo soprano Taylor Raven will sing Gertrude in Romeo et Juliette with Wolf Trap Opera  See Taylor Raven receiving instruction from Morris Robinson.

Northwestern U.: Roderick Cox Wins Solti Award, is Chosen for Gatti Masterclass

Roderick Cox

Northwestern University

Roderick Cox, a 2011 Master of Music graduate of the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University and Associate Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra, has received the 2018 Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award from the Solti Foundation U.S. The $30,000 prize is the largest grant awarded to young American conductors in the United States.

Recipients may use the financial grant in various ways to further their careers, whether it be academic or language study, purchase of scores, travel expense, etc. The award also brings valuable access to mentors and introductions within the industry. Previously, Cox received the Solti Foundation’s 2017 Career Assistance Award.

Cox was also recently chosen as one of four participants for the highly selective 2018 Daniele Gatti Masterclass with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. Other highlights of the 2017-18 season included conducting a second subscription concert week with the Minnesota Orchestra, concerts with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (London), Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and Seattle Symphony, and making his debut with the Omaha Symphony Orchestra.

Upcoming 2018 summer engagements include his debuts with the Grant Park Festival Symphony Orchestra in Chicago and Orchestra Metropolitan at the Launaudiere Festival. Season highlights in 2018-19 will include a subscription concert debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra with Cameron Carpenter in November 2018 and his opera debut with Houston Grand Opera in January 2019 in performances of Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles.

A native of Macon, Georgia, Cox was awarded the Robert J. Harth Conducting Prize from the Aspen Music Festival in 2013, which led to national recognition and a return to the festival as a fellow. He has also held fellowships with the Chicago Sinfonietta as part of the Project Inclusion Program and the Chautauqua Music Festival, where he was a David Effron Conducting Fellow.

Cox previously served for two years as Assistant Conductor of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the Alabama Symphony Youth Orchestra. He was named Associate Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra’s in September 2016 following a year as the ensemble’s Assistant Conductor.


Last year, NBC News published a video profile of Cox titled, “African-American Conductor Making Noise in White-Dominated Field.” In the video, Cox discusses his early musical influences and his role and creative process as a conductor.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Confluence Daily: Maria Corley: Meghan Markle’s Blackness: The Lot of Black People

Meghan Markle


By Maria Thompson Corley

May 23, 2018

Meghan Markle’s Blackness: The Lot of Black People Hasn’t Changed Just Because a Woman With African Heritage Has Joined the British Royal Family

I had no intention of watching the royal wedding. In addition to philosophical issues I will mention later, I’m a church organist, which means I’ve played so many ceremonies that unless I know the couple personally, I’m mainly excited about the check. But when I turned on the TV, there they were—Meghan and Harry, two well-dressed strangers standing at the altar in an opulent church full of celebrities. I’m a classical musician with a weakness for the sound of boy sopranos, so I couldn’t help being curious about the music. I also like to look at pretty dresses. Nothing better to do, so I settled in. Boy, was I in for a surprise.

I tuned in moments before the Most Reverend Michael Curry, the African-American bishop of the Episcopal church (in which I’ve been a musician for many years) delivered his flawless sermon, referencing slavery and Martin Luther King while extolling love’s power to change the world. By now, most people are aware of the musical nods to the bride’s blackness: the gospel choir singing “Stand by Me” in the church followed by a medley of “This Little Light of Mine” and “Amen” outside it, and the stunning performance by teenage cellist Shekuh Kanneh-Mason. Most also know Oprah Winfrey and Idris Elba were in the congregation, but may not have heard about Tessy Ojo, CEO of the only charity to bear Princess Diana’s name, Rose Hudson-Wilkin, the queen’s personal chaplain, and Colleen Harris, the first black royal press secretary. Mutsu Potsane was an even lesser-known guest. He bonded with the groom in an orphanage in Lesotho when Harry was 19 and Mutsu was 4. Also in attendance was his compatriot Prince Seeiso (a good friend with whom Prince Harry co-founded a charity) and his wife, Princess Mabareng. As I write this, the honeymoon is still delayed, but expected destinations include Namibia. Most of all, Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, wearing a nose ring and locks, was never off-camera for long. In short, nobody can say this was a purely “vanilla” affair.

The lot of black people hasn’t suddenly changed just because a woman with African heritage has joined the British royal family, though, any more than the election of Barack Obama—whose family is decidedly regal—made everything all better. It was clear that a number of white guests didn’t quite know how to react to the inclusion of black culture. And yet, as much as I tried to stay indifferent, I got chills. I even choked up a bit. But why?

Before I answer, I need to mention my philosophical issues. Two days after the ceremony, a friend sent me a video of a black woman ridiculing the people who are excited about Meghan Markle being Great Britain’s first black princess (though it appears that she isn’t). The commentator pointed out that there are many, many black princesses in Africa. Good point, but…so what?  Let’s face it: the idea of monarchy is antiquated and ridiculous, especially since nobody puts their life on the line to maintain their status anymore (not that I think the system was better back in the day). 

Sergio Mims: Solti Foundation: Roderick Cox Receives 2018 Sir George Solti...Award

Roderick Cox

Sergio A. Mims writes:

It was announced this  morning that conductor Roderick Cox, associate conductor of Minnesota Orchestra, was awarded the 2018 Sir Georg Solti conducting award by the The Solti Foundation U.S. The $30,000 grant is the largest grant awarded to young American conductors in the United States.

The Solti Foundation U.S.

Penny Van Horn, Board Chair of The Solti Foundation U.S. and Elizabeth Buccheri, Artistic and Awards Committee Chair, announced today the Foundation’s ninth grant, The Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award, to Roderick Cox, Associate Conductor of the 114-year old Minnesota Orchestra. The $30,000 grant is the largest grant awarded to young American conductors in the United States.

“It is with pleasure that we announce Roderick Cox as the 2018 Solti Fellow,” stated Ms. Van Horn. “Roderick continues to demonstrate the promise we witnessed over a year ago when he was selected as a recipient of a 2017 Solti Foundation Career Assistance Award. It is exciting to follow his development on the national and international orchestra and opera stages.”

Among the orchestras that Mr. Cox has conducted are the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Chineke! Orchestra (Great Britain), Cleveland Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Florida Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Johannesburg Philharmonic (South Africa), National Symphony Orchestra (D.C.), St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra, and the Seattle Symphony.                                                                                                                                            Artistic and Awards Committee Chair Elizabeth Buccheri said, “The Solti Foundation U.S. takes great pride in identifying and providing assistance in the development of talented young conductors who are forging a path in music. The Artistic Committee congratulates Roderick Cox on his accomplishments to date. We look forward to what the future holds for him.”


Recipients may use the financial grant in various ways to further his/her career, whether it be further studies, language study, purchases of scores, travel, etc. The Award also brings door-opening introductions within the industry and valuable access to mentors. The Foundation’s Board of Directors comprises experts from all areas of the classical music industry.

Eric Conway: Morgan choir arrives safely in Vienna, Austria!






Mozart






Eric Conway writes:

Hello Morgan Fine and Performing Arts Community,

Yesterday, the Morgan State University choir arrived safely in Vienna, Austria without incident! 

After more than a week of rain in Baltimore, coinciding with our 2018 May Commencement ceremony and Baltimore's Preakness stakes, we had a beautiful day of weather upon departure on Monday, May 21, 2018, to Dulles Airport in Washington DC.  We arrived to the airport with plenty of time to spare.  Our carrier this time was the quality airline of Air France.  We had a short layover in Paris, France to arrive in Vienna, Austria on Tuesday, May 22, 2018.  All went according to schedule, including not one person losing any luggage (small miracles!).

Vienna is a great city if you are a musician or artist. Because of the Habsburg dynasty, who reined for over six centuries, the cultural aesthetic is very much in the forefront of the cities of their rule.  The Habsburgs appreciated good music and fine art.  If you were a musician or artist of any note or talent during their tenure, you were employed by the Hapsburg family to create beautiful music or art. During our time in Austria, we will visit the homes of several musicians.  Yesterday while on the bus, we drove by an apartment where Beethoven lived while in Vienna.

Prior to our welcome dinner, we enjoyed a bus and walking tour of Vienna.  While on the bus, our guide pointed out the homes of the Vienna opera and Vienna Philharmonic orchestra (respectively).   Statues were erected throughout the city of many of the most acclaimed artists from the region including Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, and Goethe!

After the tour, we all had a group dinner where we experienced a typical Austrian meal of meat and potatoes, which was quite tasty!   One cannot visit Austria without tasting some typical Apple Strudel for desert.

No one from the group lost any items. Everyone appeared to be well.  What a great first day in Europe! See some photos attached.

EC

We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. - Aristotle
************************************
Eric Conway, D.M.A.
Fine and Performing Arts Department, Chair
Morgan State University