Sunday, December 4, 2016

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture: Revisiting Rebellion: Nat Turner in the American Imagination

[Digital Exhibition]

Our Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery and the American Antiquarian Society have partnered to create a digital exhibition on Nat Turner. Using print and manuscript collections at the the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the American Antiquarian Society, this exhibition explores portrayals of Turner in both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. 

To view the exhibition, click here

Songs of Darkness and Light: A Community MusicWorks Holiday Concert with Storyteller Val Tutson Sun., Dec. 11 at 3pm RISD Museum Metcalf Auditorium

Join us for this interactive hour-long musical celebration!
The MusicWorks Collective is joined by storyteller Val Tutson for a performance celebrating the winter solstice. A reading of the children's book The Longest Night by Marion Dane Bauer will be accompanied by the music of Bach, Holst, Mozart, Vivaldi and more.

Pre-Performance Children's Activities at 2:15pm
Performance at 3:00pm
Post-Performance Refreshments

Sunday, December 11 at 3pm
RISD Museum Metcalf Auditorium
Tickets: $15 individual, $20 family, $10 CMW family

The Annual Carter G. Woodson Birthday commemoration will be held at the Friendship Armstrong School - 1400 First St. NE, Washington, D.C. 20001, 3 PM

Carter G. Woodson

Sylvia Y. Cyrus writes:

Dear ASALH Member and Friends:
You are cordially invited to attend the birthday commemoration of our founder, Carter G. Woodson at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 17, at a special location.

The annual Carter G. Woodson Birthday commemoration will be held at the Friendship Armstrong School - 1400 First St. NE, Washington, D.C. 20001.   Dr. Woodson served as principal of Armstrong School from 1918 to 1919. Please feel free to invite your friends and family to share in this celebration.

In order to accommodate the participation of the students from the Armstrong School our commemoration will be held on December 17 instead of December 19, Dr. Woodson's birthday. 
Join us with our partners the National Park Service and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity for a wonderful program.
The school has parking, so this will be a convenient location for all who attend. 

I hope to see you there. 

Sylvia Cyrus
Executive Director & Managing Editor

2016 Carter G. Woodson Birthday Commemoration
    See you at Armstrong School!
    SATURDAY, December 17, 2016
     3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
       This event is free and open to the public.
       New Location:
      Friendship Armstrong School 
      1400 First St. NE
      Washington, DC 20001   


By Today At School☃️ (@TodayAtSch00L

New York Times: Review: A Newly Relevant ‘L’Amour de Loin’ at the Met [The bass-baritone Eric Owens, in one of his finest Met roles]

Tamara Mumford, left, and Eric Owens in “L’Amour de Loin,” by Kaija Saariaho, at the Metropolitan Opera. Credit Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

[New York Times, Sept. 15, 2016, Anthony Tommasini writes "With Women in Command, the Met Opera Addresses a Gender Gap" Photo caption: Susanna Phillips and Eric Owens in “L’Amour de Loin.” Credit Kristian Schuller/Metropolitan Opera]

The New York Times

Anthony Tommasini

Dec. 2, 2016

Kaija Saariaho’s opera “L’Amour de Loin” (“Love From Afar”) had its premiere at the Salzburg Festival in 2000, in a period when Europe, especially Austria, was roiled by rising nationalism, movements to protect the sanctity of borders and demonization of the “other.”
This powerful work was presented for the first time at the Metropolitan Opera on Thursday night, at a moment when America seems shaken by its own conflicts, having just gone through an election stoked by rhetoric about immigrants and renewed calls for nationalism.
Feelings about the “other” run through “L’Amour de Loin.” In this story, however, the other is not demonized, but idealized. Yet, as this haunting opera suggests, idealized assumptions can also cause harm, however unintended.
With this production, by the director Robert Lepage, the Met has also addressed a serious gap in its history: “L’Amour de Loin” is only the second opera composed by a woman to be presented by the company. The first was Ethel Smyth’s “Der Wald” in 1903.
In addition, Thursday’s performance was the Met debut of the brilliant Finnish conductor Susanna Malkki, who becomes, amazingly, only the fourth woman to take the podium in the company’s history.

What matters most is that this impressive work has finally come to New York. Ms. Saariaho, born in Helsinki in 1952, has long been known for writing music rich with luminous sounds, astringently alluring harmonies, myriad instrumental colorings and atmospheric textures — qualities ideally suited to telling this medieval tale. The Lebanese-born author Amin Maalouf wrote the poetic and profound libretto.
The story tells of a renowned troubadour, Jaufré Rudel, prince of Blaye, in 12th-century Aquitaine in France. Grown weary of a life of pleasure and entitlement, Jaufré yearns for an idealized, distant love, but assumes that this is impossible. His hearty companions try to snap him out of it. A pilgrim just arrived from overseas, struck by the prince’s longing, tells him that the woman of his imagination exists: the countess of Tripoli, who is “beautiful without the arrogance of beauty.”
The pilgrim’s report fires the hopes of Jaufré, who rhapsodizes about the countess in song. At first he does not want to meet her, lest reality spoil his distant love. The pilgrim becomes a go-between, traveling across the sea to Tripoli to bring Clémence, the countess, news of Jaufré’s idealized devotion. She is also feeling sick at heart. Still, that a noble troubadour may love her so purely leaves her questioning if she merits such devotion.
Ms. Saariaho establishes the story’s mystical mood at the start with suspenseful orchestral murmurings, over which rising pitches stack up to form piercing, sustained chords. Jaufré’s first lament unfolds in phrases that subtly evoke medieval song, but with modes fashioned by the composer.
The bass-baritone Eric Owens, in one of his finest Met roles, makes an achingly vulnerable Jaufré. The earthy, weighty qualities of his voice convey the troubadour’s world-weary sadness. Yet, when the character’s ruminations take the music into higher lyrical phrases, Mr. Owens sings with poignancy and tenderness.

Chicago Tribune: Review: Reginald Robinson and Jon Weber celebrate the art of ragtime [Featuring Music of Scott Joplin and Reginald Robinson]

Pianist Reginald Robinson smiles after performing a number during a concert with Jon Weber on Dec. 2, 2016, at PianoForte Studios in Chicago. (Kristen Norman / Chicago Tribune)

Howard Reich

December 3, 2016

It was one of the most joyous concerts of the year.
Two exceptional pianists. Two state-of-the-art pianos. And music by composers who span the history of ragtime.
Considering that the performers in question were Chicago ragtime innovator Reginald Robinson, a MacArthur Fellow, and Jon Weber, his mentor and longtime champion, it's no wonder the recital hall at PianoForte Studios was packed Friday night. The two men hadn't performed together in more than a decade, and each possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of historic repertoire, as well as a ferocious command of the keyboard.

Put them together on a stage, and you're bound to hear how an all-American genre that emerged more than a century ago ought to be played.
Robinson and Weber devoted most of the program to scores by the most revered figure of classic ragtime, Scott Joplin, and the most significant composer of the music today: Robinson. Though the evening also included snippets by Fats Waller and George Gershwin, the focus on Joplin and Robinson afforded listeners proof of the genius of the art form and its enduring vitality in Robinson's work.
From the first notes of Joplin's "The Entertainer," published in 1902, there was no doubt that the music — so often exaggerated in film and TV scores — was in four unusually capable hands. Though arranged here for two pianos, Joplin's masterpiece conveyed all the rhythmic bounce and melodic grace the composer conceived for a single instrument.
Better still, Robinson and Weber made clear the underlying structure of this music, applying different tonal colorings to each section and bringing forth motifs often overlooked by lesser pianists. In effect, Robinson and Weber revealed the inner workings of this music.

Not many contemporary ragtime works would sound very compelling following "The Entertainer," but most of Robinson's vast catalog does. "The Strongman" (1990) immediately proved the point, the composer having compressed copious melodic invention into classic ragtime form. Though Robinson has played his early opus frequently through the decades, it benefited considerably when articulated by two pianists. Weber provided low-note ballast to Robinson's middle- and upper-register flourishes, "The Strongman" never sounding more muscular.
Each of the subsequent Robinson works on the program conjured a world of sound unto itself. The tender lyricism of Robinson's "Petunia Rag" (1989) stood in sharp contrast to the keyboard wizardry of his "The Tomahawk" (1996). The modernistic, chromatic chord progressions of Robinson's "The Jester" (1991) hardly seemed to come from the same pen that produced Joplinesque figures in "Struttin' Your Troubles Away" (2013).

Kelly Hall-Tompkins: Music Kitchen Fiddler on the Roof Auction! Bidding Extended to Tuesday December 6th at 5 PM!

(Music Kitchen Shelter clients at Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway)
Music Kitchen Fiddler on the Roof Auction!
Bidding Extended to Tuesday December 6th at 5PM!
Dear William J., 
It has come to my attention that the Music Kitchen site was down when some of you were attempting to make bids/donations!  I apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your continued interest and support!  I am happy to report that bidding will be extended until Tuesday.  in case you missed it, here's what we are offering:
SO many of you have already come to see the show and hear me play in this wonderful Bartlett Sher production and most of you know the classic Fiddler on the Roof production from years past.  But have you ever had the opportunity to hear the musical score come alive alongside the musicians in the orchestra pit?  This is an incredibly beautiful score arranged for our production by Oran Eldor and orchestrated by our Music Director Ted Sperling.  Thank you once again to the Fiddler on Broadway company: I am pleased to announce an auction benefiting Music Kitchen for the opportunity to sit in with the orchestra, hear my Fiddler solos up close, meet some of the cast and musicians and have a backstage tour at the historic Broadway Theater (which introduced the world to the first Mickey Mouse cartoon in 1928 and Fantasia in 1940!)!  But you must act fast!  This wonderful and endearing Fiddler production starring Danny Burstein will present its final performance on December 31st.  The winning bidder (or your guest of choice) will be invited into the orchestra pit and backstage as a guest during this week December (6-11).
To bid, simply make a donation by any donation link.  Your bid will go towards the NEA match. 
Please share this email and spread the word!  Won't be in the NY area? Make a donation anyway or give this opportunity as a gift!
Bidding is currently at $350 and will close on December 6th!

Thank you for alll you do to support Music Kitchen- Food for the Soul!
Fiddler Auction - Bid Here!

Friday, December 2, 2016 Unusual McGill/McHale Trio to play Music at Hillwood recital at Tilles Center [LIU Post campus, Brookville, NY, 3 PM Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016]

Newsday: The McGill/McHale Trio -- brothers Demarre, left, and Anthony McGill, center, and Michael McHale -- will play at Tilles Center's Hillwood Recital Hall. Photo Credit: Matthew Septimus

Steve Parks

November 30, 2016

WHAT The McGill/McHale Trio
You’re in for an “extraordinarily rare” experience at Sunday’s Music at Hillwood matinee recital.
The McGill/McHale Trio performs a program including works by Dvorak and Saint-Saens and two pieces arranged by pianist Michael McHale. While the performance may be extraordinary, it is the players — specifically two of them — that make the occasion so rare.

In 2014, clarinetist Anthony McGill became the first African-American named principal player of any instrument in the New York Philharmonic since its 1843 founding. His brother, Demarre, was the first African-American principal player for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, now acting principal flutist for the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. “We’re neighbors now,” says Demarre, who works at the Met Opera House while his kid brother by four years plays at Geffen Hall across Lincoln Center Plaza. “The trio,” he says, “is the first time we’ve worked regularly together professionally.”


While black musicians are vastly underrepresented in symphony orchestras, they’re even rarer in chamber ensembles, says Caroline Stoessinger, host and artistic director of Music at Hillwood. Even the Harlem String Quartet now has only one African-American player, violinist Melissa White. In September, an African-American, cellist Astrid Schween, joined the Juilliard String Quartet.
“If you can’t think of an African-American concert pianist besides Andre Watts,” says Stoessinger, “it’s because they don’t exist.
“Prejudice still exists on some level,” she says. “                    

Eric Conway: Morgan State University Choir sings at Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Mount Vernon Place in Baltimore

Eric Conway writes:

Hello everyone,

Every year since 2012, the Morgan State University Choir has been asked to sing for Baltimore’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Mount Vernon Place.  Last night, Mount Vernon Place appeared to be filled to capacity.  Mercifully, it was not has cold as in previous year’s ceremonies.   We were surprised when Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steven Smith showed up for a cameo appearance.  He was gracious enough to take a photo with the choir.  See photo attached, with a link from the event including our performance and fireworks!


Thursday, December 1, 2016

New York Times: The compulsion to engage the Charleston area’s complex history as a slave-trading center was, for the writer, a visceral thing

A bronze statue of Denmark Vesey, a free black Charlestonian who was executed in 1822 for organizing an aborted slave revolt, in Hampton Park, in Charleston. Credit Tony Cenicola/The New York Times  

The Old Slave Mart, known as the nation’s last existing slave auction hall. Credit Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

The New York Times

By Ron Stodghill

Nov. 15, 2016

In the spring of 1862, cloaked in the predawn darkness of Charleston Harbor, 23-year-old Robert Smalls stood aboard the C.S.S. Planter, a Confederate transfer and gunboat, and plotted his escape.
In his day, Smalls was a rarity, a black enslaved harbor pilot. He was also clever: That morning, with his three commanding white officers carousing ashore, Smalls began executing his plan. With eight fellow slave crewmen in tow, Smalls, wearing a captain’s uniform, cranked up the vessel’s engines, and in the moonlit waters, headed toward the promise of freedom.
Guiding the ship past Confederate forts and issuing checkpoint signals, Smalls steamed up the Cooper River, stopping at a wharf to pick up his wife, child and his crew’s families. In dawn’s light, the Planter, flying a white sheet as a surrender flag, made it to his cherished destination: a Union Navy fleet whose officers eyed him, dumbfounded, as Smalls saluted them. “I am delivering this war material including these cannons and I think Uncle Abraham Lincoln can put them to good use,” he said. Freedom, for Smalls and his crew, had arrived.
On a recent sunny afternoon, more than a century and a half later, Michael B. Moore was standing on Gadsden’s Wharf reflecting on his great-great-grandfather’s remarkable journey — and other triumphs and tragedies born on that spot.
It took some imagining: The wharf, now a city park populated by soccer-playing children, dog-walking young professionals and commercial cruise ships, has morphed numerous times since its heyday as the busiest port for the nation’s slave trade capital. Between 1783 and 1808, some 100,000 slaves, arriving from across West Africa, were transported through Gadsden’s Wharf and other South Carolina ports, and sold to the 13 colonies. “This place personalizes for me what my ancestors lived through,” said Mr. Moore, chief executive of Charleston’s International African American Museum, scheduled to open in 2019. “I just can’t imagine what they felt here on this space. This is where they took their first steps on this land.”
Mr. Moore walked inland a couple hundred yards, where incoming slaves, after being quarantined off the coast at Sullivan’s Island, were warehoused — sometimes for months at a time. In what’s been called facetiously “the Ellis Island for African Americans,” thousands of slaves waiting to be auctioned off as domestics and laborers throughout the South died in those warehouses.
In a few months, construction crews will break ground to build the museum on the wharf. “Right there,” Mr. Moore said, pointing directly ahead, “in what’s now a parking lot, is where 700 black people froze to death. I can only wonder what we’ll find when we start digging up this place.”
Charleston, almost paradoxically, is an easy place for tourists to love. Visitors delight in the city’s cobblestone streets, its Gothic-style churches, Greek Revival storefronts, its array of trendy restaurants and hotels. As Travel & Leisure magazine, which earlier this year ranked Charleston first of its 15 world’s best cities, gushed: “Charleston is much more than the sum of its picture-ready cobblestone streets, clopping horse carriages and classical architecture. Much of the port city’s allure lies in constant reinvention and little surprises (like free-range guinea hens clucking up and down Legare Street, sous-chefs flying by on skateboards heading into work, or Citadel cadets honking their bagpipes on sidewalks in summertime).”
Yet for all its appeal, Charleston also evokes a brutal chapter of American life, a city built on and sustained by slave labor for nearly two centuries. Beneath the stately facade of this prosperous city is a savage narrative of Jim Crow and Ku Klux Klan violence, right through the civil rights movement.
One doesn’t have to reach that far back to understand what makes Charleston a haunting place to explore (an estimated 40 to 60 percent of African-Americans can trace their roots here). Only in 2015 did the Confederate flag come down from the state capitol in Columbia, prompted by a young neo-Nazi, Dylann S. Roof, who brandished a handgun and massacred nine people during a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the nation’s oldest black churches and hallowed ground of the civil rights movement. That one of the casualties, Cynthia Hurd, was the sister of a close colleague only hardened my sense that the so-called Holy City, nicknamed as such after its abundance of churches, was holding fast to its legacy of racial hatred.
Even as this article went to press, Charleston was bracing itself for two racially loaded trials; on Broad Street, at the United States District Court, 22-year-old Mr. Roof faces 33 federal charges — including hate crimes and religious rights violations — in the massacre at Emanuel A.M.E. A block away, at the Charleston County Judicial Center, the former North Charleston police officer Michael T. Slager faces charges in the murder of 50-year-old Walter L. Scott, an unarmed black man gunned down as he fled a traffic stop.
And yet, amid a national climate of rising racial tension, the compulsion to engage this history was for me visceral, akin to the urge to revisit a crime scene. I can only suspect that a similar urge to peel back the layers of pain and survival of blacks in America, at least partly, is driving some of the rise in attendance at the nation’s black history sites, including the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, where advance timed tickets are reportedly no longer available through March 2017. I hoped that, on some level, engaging the painful history of human atrocity and heroism in Charleston might illuminate the racial chasms dividing Americans.

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