Sunday, June 30, 2013

Unique Classical Music Festival Featuring Musicians of African Descent Celebrates 20 Years, August 14-18, 2013 in Rochester, New York

Michael Morgan and Gateways Festival Orchestra 2011

ROCHESTER, NEW YORK - African Americans have made and continue to make significant contributions to the field of classical music as conductors, composers, musicians and educators.
  However, that historic legacy is often overshadowed by their contributions to other, more widely popular music generes such as hip hop, rap, rhythm and blues, jazz and gospel.
 The Gateways Music Festival in Rochester is seeking to close that public awareness gap by shining the spotlight on classically-trained musicians of African descent and broadening the audience and community arenas of classical music as much as possible.
    Gateways will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its founding at this year's festival. Youth and adult musicians will come to Rochester from throughout the United States to participate August 14 through August 18.  
  "Rochester has a long and strong history of arts and culture, however the presence of people of African descent in the field of classical music is extremely limited," said William Lewis, president of the board of directors of Gateways Music Festival, Inc. "Gateways was created to address that concern."
   Barbara Jones, co-chairperson of the GMF Planning Committee, elaborated further about that limitation.  "The participation, either on stage or in the audience of African Americans in classical music performance is almost non-existent," she said.
   That is why "Gateways is a unique program that is not duplicated by any other arts organization and that increases the presence and performance opportunities of African Americans in classical music, " she said.
 Armenta Adams Hummings, a concert pianist and graduate of the Juilliard School in New York City, founded Gateways in 1993  in Winston Salem, North Carolina. 
  Mrs. Hummings' vision was not only to make the broader community aware of the talents of musicians of African descent, but to make classical music more accessible, especially to people who, because of economic, social or other  circumstances may never have attended a classical music event. 
  All of the Gateways Music Festival events and solo, chamber and orchestral concerts are free and open to the public. They  are held in various venues throughout  the city of  Rochester ranging from schools, and houses of worship to concert halls..
 Another part of Mrs. Hummings' vision of "opening the gates of classical music" was to provide inspiration and role models for young musicians of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.
  Her vision is captured in the stated mission of Gateways Music Festival, Inc.
   The Gateways Music Festival was held in North Carolina in 1993 and 1994. After Mrs. Hummings moved to Rochester to accept a position with the Eastman School of Music, the festival has been held biennially since 1995 in Rochester in collaboration with the Eastman School.
   A former associate  professor of music at Eastman, Mrs. Hummings stepped down as president and artistic director of Gateways at the end of the 2009 festival season. She remains festival advisor. 
 Some 500 musicians have participated in the Gateways Music Festival since its founding. They come from a wide range of backgrounds and experience levelsm ranging from current and recent graduates of the nation's top conservatories and music schools to experienced and established musicians with major solo and/or orchestra careers with musical organizations such as the New York Philharmonic,  Boston Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philaharmonic and the Detroit Symphony.
 From audience surveys collected at each Gateways concert, this picture emerged in 2011 from the self-reported demographics of festival audiences: 45 percent African American, 45 percent Caucasian, 3 percent Hispanic and 7 percent other. Adults made up 86 percent and 14 percent were young people 17 years old or younger. 
   About 5,000 people attended Gateways festival concerts and events in 2011. Festival organizers hope attendance will be even larger this year.
 Another thing that makes Gateways unique is that is has no paid staff. More than 200 volunteers work to make the festival successful. The 501(c)3, not-for-profit organization relies on grants, individual and corporate donations and in-kind assistance to meet festival expenses. 
Among the festival expenses is a small stipend  Gateways provides to the musicians, many of whom forego more lucrative assigments in order to participate in the festival.
  Gateways is described as a "giving back to the community" program. And  in that sense,  even the  musicians are "volunteers."
  Michael Morgan, music director and conductor of the Oakland East Bay Symphony Orchestra in California, who was music director and conductor for the 2011 Gateways Music Festival, returns this year.
 For more information about the Gateways Music Fefstival check the web site at:


Radio Website Based in France Devotes Page to 'Richard Alston, Concert Pianist'

Pianist Richard C. Alston:

Hello Family and Friends,
I have just received notice that Franck Doristil has created a RICHARD ALSTON, CONCERT PIANIST page on his radio site in France! Please go to this link to view the page:

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Soprano Gweneth-Ann Jeffers sings excerpts from 'Flyting: a Concert Suite' by Matthew Rooke on SoundCloud

Gweneth-Ann Jeffers

Composer Matthew Rooke sends a SoundCloud sample of soprano Gweneth-Ann Jeffers performing three pieces from Flyting: a Concert Suite with a total time of 13:12, (01) Mungo's Journey, (02) At Boussa Falls, (03) Flyting segue into The Waterfall:

Flyting: a Concert Suite by Matthew Rooke
Dear William given your interest in Africans in classical music, I thought you might be interested in hearing something from Scotland.
This work also features the fine black soprano Gweneth-Ann Jeffers alongside distinguished Scottish Bass, Donald Maxwell.
With best wishes, Matthew Rooke
Shared from the SoundCloud iOS app. Get it for free here:

Comments by email:
Here's more about her:  Sergio  [Sergio A.  Mims]
Dear Bill thank you so much for this listing - I think you are doing a fantastic job showing that people of African descent have been part of the history of western 
classical music for hundreds of years. Gwen is represented by her agent, Steven Swales...With best wishes, Matthew Rooke 'The Proms: Five rising stars' include Soprano Gweneth-Ann Jeffers

Gweneth-Ann Jeffers

The Independent
Saturday, 29 June 2013
Gweneth-Ann Jeffers (soprano): 11 August, 1pm, Proms Chamber Music
Jeffers has risen through the ranks of the Royal Opera House's Young Artists' Programme and sings one of the best song-cycles of the 20th century, Messiaen's Harawi. Show off to your neighbours pondering the funny words amid the French by telling them that they're in the Quechua language, from Peru. 

Hale Smith Remembered as Influential Composer of Classical Music and Jazz on Anniversary of Birth June 29, 1925

Black Composers Series
Hale Smith: Ritual and Incantations (14:59)
Sony Music Custom Marketing Group 
DSO-1111 (2002)

Hale Smith (1925-2009), an African American composer, pianist and professor, is profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works List and a Bibliography by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma,  Four years after the passing of composer Hale Smith, references to his career continue to appear frequently in music media.  What follows is a sampling from AfriClassical posts of the past year:

October 17, 2012:
Soprano Icy Simpson and Pianist Artina McCain Record Spirituals and Art Songs on CD 'I, too' on Longhorn Music Label  The disc included Hale Smith's arrangement of Amazing Grace.

February 5, 2013: News12LongIsland: 'Freeport composer Hale Smith's inspiration lives on'

February 11, 2013: 'ANTHOLOGY: The Black Composers Series' by Dominique-René de Lerma  The post discussed Hale Smith's Ritual and Incantations (14:59), which is on the disc pictured above.

February 28, 2013: Dominique-René de Lerma wrote of a Black Music broadcast on Bill McLaughlin's Exploring Music: "The CD of Natalie Hinderas was welcomed back for Hale Smith's Evocation.  Time did not allow a richer exploration of this classic figures' output -- his Ritual and incantations  being even more evocative."

Comments by email:

Thank you so much for the remembrance.  Juanita  [Juanita Smith]

Hey, Bill: Thanks for the link. I celebrated Hale Smith’s 88th birthday via a poem I wrote and read at a poetry reading ziz curated. When I get a chance, I’ll send it to you. All the best… Peace, Regina [Regina Harris Baiocchi]

Friday, June 28, 2013 'Nyaho set to serenade piano lovers in two nights' in Ghana, 7 PM June 30 and July 1, 2013

Dr. William Chapman Nyaho (b. 1958)
is featured at
His performance website is
and he has a Facebook Page.

Nyaho set to serenade piano lovers in two nights
From: Ghana          Published On: June 28, 2013, 11:31 GMT
A sensational world-renowned pianist, William Chapman Nyaho, is set to serenade lovers of jazzy and piano music in a rollicking concert dubbed “An evening with Nyaho.”

The concert which is in collaboration with ChorkorHeights and Old Achimotan Association is scheduled to take place at Sweetie’s Lounge in Airport Hills off Flower Pot junction, Spintex Road on Sunday June 30, 2013 and Monday July 1, 2013.

Chapman, a Ghanaian American resident in Seatle, USA, is ready to serve his Ghanaian audience and fans with his repertoire of solid, soothing, sumptuous, selection of music.

Nyaho’s recitals will feature music primarily by composers of African descent including those from European composers. 

He will also perform music by West African composers such as Joshua Uzoigwe and Fred Onovwerosuoke using indigenous musical practices and melding it with the western cultural musical practices. 

Chapman will also serve patrons with composition from the Caribbean, such as Oswald Russell, and African American composers such as Florence Price. Harpist Faye Seeman performs William Grant Still’s 'Ennanga' in Birch Creek, Wisconsin June 28 and 29, 2013

[Africa: Piano Music of William Grant Still
Denver Oldham, piano; 
Koch International Classics 3-7084-2H1]

Peninsula Pulse
Birch Creek, Wisconsin

June 28, 2013
Birch Creek continues its Symphony session with Faye Seeman, featured harp soloist, performing William Grant Still’s Ennanga during the Power of Transformation concerts on June 28 and June 29. Other featured repertoire by the Birch Creek Symphony Orchestra includes Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 77 by Brahms.

On July 4, the Birch Creek Symphony Orchestra celebrates “An American Birthday” during its annual Pops Concert Event. The annual free pie and ice cream social begins at 5:30 pm and features freshly baked Door County apple and cherry pies with ice cream, all donated by local Birch Creek supporters.

[William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works List by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, Recordings, sheet music and books of William Grant Still are available at, which is operated by the composer's daughter Judith Anne Still] Patrick D. McCoy: Gifted Musician Continues to Soar

In this article at Patrick D. McCoy is interviewed on his current position as Music Director at Trinity Episcopal Church:

Renee' Baker Among Honorees at 16th Annual Black Music Month Breakfast of Vivian G. Harsh Society, 9 AM Saturday, June 29, 2013

Renee' Baker

Upcoming Events for the Vivian G. Harsh Society
The 16th Annual Black Music Month Breakfast
Excellence in Music and Community Service
Theme: "Music: A Pathway to Civility"

Saturday, June 29, 2013
9:00 – 11:30 am
Doors open at 8:30am
Apostolic Church of God Banquet Hall
6320 South Dorchester Avenue, Chicago, IL

Tickets: $40 each

Honorees include:
Renee Baker, Composer & Musician
William James, Jr., Musician & Actor
Selena Williams, Musician & Visual Artist
Silas Woods, Chicago Police Officer
Arcilla Stahl, Retired Administrator

Guest Speaker: Jashed Fakhrid-Deen, Educator
Keynote Speaker: Renee Baker
Master of Ceremonies: Clifford Kelley

For more information, please call the Society: 312-544-9188 or email VGHS

Renee' Baker
Principal Violist, Co-Founder/Project Manager - Project Inclusion, Chicago Sinfonietta
Musical Conductor and Artistic Director of the Chicago Modern Orchestra Project

A stellar list of Chicago leaders will be honored, including Renee Baker, composer, former director and curator of the Chicago Sinfonietta Chamber Ensemble, who will receive the Charles E. Walton Award. Baker, who is also Director of CMOP, the Chicago Modern Orchestra Project and Mantra Blue Free Orchestra, will serve as keynote speaker. Jashed Fakhrid-Deen, chair of mathematics and the CIS Department at Harold Washington College, will serve as guest speaker.

Baker will focus her address on the "The Spellbinding Effect of Black Women in Music". Noted for her masterful improvisation, Baker has utilized some of the finest classical musicians the world has known as well as jazz greats and crafted a group of the best traditionalists and married them to dedicated improvisers. She has performed and recorded with Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble, Karl E. H. Seigfried's New Quartet and Galaxy String Quartet, the David Boykin Expense, Orbert Davis, George Lewis, Mwata Bowden, the Great Black Music Ensemble, the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic and the Chicago Jazz Orchestra. She is a member of the Chicago Chapter of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Abyssinian Development Corporation Provides Photo of Harry Belafonte and Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III from Harlem Renaissance Day, June 19, 2013

Harry Belafonte and Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III” 
(Photo Credit: E. Lee White)

On June 26, 2013 AfriClassical posted: Harry Belafonte Among Recipients of Abyssinian Development Corporation Renaissance Awards June 19, 2013, Harlem Renaissance Day.  Subsequently, ADC kindly offered us the above photo taken by E. Lee White at the June 19, 2013 event.

Composer George Walker Celebrates 91st Birthday With 'Our American Roots: Gershwin, Barber, Walker, Copland' from Delos

Our American Roots: Gershwin, Barber, Walker, Copland
Emmanuel Feldman, cello; Joy Cline Phinney, piano
Delos 3449 (2013)

The composer and pianist George Walker was born in Washington, D.C. June 27, 1922, is featured at and has a website at  He made history in 1996 as the first African-American Pulitzer Prize Winner in Music.

Peter Nelson-King writes   On Wednesday, April 17, 2013 he posted: George Walker - a Self-Styled "Great American Composer",  in which he writes at length of the composer's works.  He notes: "Walker initially gained fame as a piano prodigy, entering Oberlin Conservatory at age 14, moving to Curtis Institute of Music and eventually getting his doctorate from Eastman School of Music."

George Walker has recorded prolifically; lists 27 CDs under his name. An impressive number are devoted entirely to his compositions, as is the case for George Walker: Great American Orchestral Works, Vol. 3 (2012). The composer's most recent release is his first on the Delos Music label, and was released just a month ago, on May 28, 2013: Our American Roots: Gershwin, Barber, Walker, Copland; Delos 3449. calls the disc "A varied program of seldom-heard American cello sonatas and well-crafted arrangements of beloved musical Americana." notes the recording includes "a pair of rarely heard (and recorded) cello sonatas by Samuel Barber and George Walker." "George Walker, Sonata for Cello and piano (1957); Allegro passionato, Sostenuto, Allegro."

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sphinx Organization: Starting Thursday, June 27, go to Power2Give to learn more about our project "Inspire a Child through Music"

(Photo: Amy Kuehl)

Funds Available to Sphinx at Midnight Tonight
Tomorrow marks the launch of Culture Source’s Power2Give website and Sphinx has a goal to raise $10,000 for our project, “Inspire a Child through Music.” 

Imagine watching young students pick up their very first musical instrument as a smile spreads across their face; in the Sphinx Overture program, this uplifting sight is seen each day and your gift will ensure this continues into 2014! 

Limited 1:1 matching funds provided by The Ford Foundation are available starting at midnight tonight, so please support Sphinx on June 27th by giving online at the following link: 

Flutronix: 'We wrapped up the school year by working with the 1st grade students at Teacher's College Community School in Harlem.'

Nathalie Joachim and Allison Loggins-Hull are Flutronix, a critically acclaimed pair of fresh and eclectic flutists who are paving the way from their classical roots to the future of music."

Bring Flutronix to a School Near You!

We wrapped up the school year by working with the 1st grade students at Teacher's College Community School in Harlem.  Whether we're presenting our workshops on career development, instruments in pop music or a fun intro to music, it's always a joy to share our knowledge with students of all ages.  

Our calendar is filling up for the 2013-14 school year, so hurry and book Flutronix at your school today!

Harry Belafonte Among Recipients of Abyssinian Development Corporation Renaissance Awards June 19, 2013, Harlem Renaissance Day

Harry Belafonte
(Mark Sullivan/ New York Times)

We wanted to share the following news from Abyssinian Development Corporation, one of the country’s most influential and accomplished community development non-profits. On Wednesday, June 19th, as part of the annual HARLEM RENAISSANCE DAY OF COMMITMENT—a   gathering of top business, cultural and community leaders making an impact in NYC and around the world—more than 600 distinguished leaders in the African American community gathered to focus on the need to protect and support every child’s right to a high-quality education.

The following were recognized by Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III and presented with prestigious Abyssinian Development Corporation Renaissance Awards—each award was a work of art created by children from the Thurgood Marshall Academy in Harlem, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year:

·         Howard Schultz—Founder, President and CEO of Starbucks
·         Harry Belafonte American singer, songwriter, actor and social activist
·         The Honorable Michael R. Bloomberg—Mayor of the City of New York

Honorary Harlem Renaissance Day of Recognition Chair Kathryn C. Chenault, Esq. was also acknowledged for her ongoing support of ADC’s educational initiatives.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

KIT Records Interview on 'Emahoy Sheet Music Project' Links to Audio of 'Mother's Love' (3:38); Mary Sutton Provides Link to Her Kickstarter Project

Today Mary Sutton responded to the post with links to sample audio from KIT Records on SoundCloud and her Kickstarter Project:

Hi Bill,

This looks great.  There are a couple more things you can link to if you like, a blogpost that  just got published and the kickstarter  

I will definitely keep you posted!

Mary Sutton

Harlem Opera Theater Presents 2013 Vocal Competition 4 PM Saturday, June 29, 2013 at Miller Theatre, Columbia University

Ashley Horne

AUDIENCE - Cast your vote for the opera stars of tomorrow! Join one of the most exciting events of the season as music industry professionals judge gifted and talented emerging and professional singers on the standard techniques of the classical voice and overall performance. 

Finalists receive performance opportunities to develop a repertoire for the international opera stage. Winners of the College Division (ages 18-22) and Professional Division (ages 23-35) receive Judges' and Audience Choice Awards.

Musical interludes by members of The Harlem Chamber Players--violinist Ashley Horne and pianist Erasmia Voukelatos.

Orchestra $25 | Balcony $20

Call 212-592-0780 for group discounts or to find out more.

The Harlem Chamber Players, Inc. | 191 Claremont Avenue #25 | New York, NY 10027 'Former VSU Concert Choir conductor Carl G. Harris to be funeralized Thursday'

Dr. Carl G. Harris will be funeralized on Thursday in Hampton.
Credits: Hampton University

June 25, 2013
It is with great sadness to report the death of Dr. Carl G. Harris, who from 1971-1984 served as Director of Choral Activities at Virginia State University and organist at Historic Gillfield Baptist Church, both in Petersburg, Virginia. Harris was respected in the music community as an outstanding organ soloist, accompanist and for his collegial spirit.

Carl G. Harris, Jr. was born in Fayette, Missouri. He attended public schools in St. Joseph, Missouri and graduated from Bartlett High School with honors. He received the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music (Cum Laude) from Philander Smith College, Master of Arts Degree in Music History from the University of Missouri, and the Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Conducting from the Conservatory of Music, University of Missouri at Kansas City. In addition, he did further study at Westminster Choir College and Vienna State Academy of Music.
In 2005, he was named Minister of Music Emeritus of the illustrious Bank Street Memorial Baptist Church in Norlfolk, Virginia where he served for 21 years. The glorious anthem, “Shout For Joy” by Adolphus Hailstork was composed for expressly for his choir there and was affectionately referred to as the “Bank Street Anthem.”

Dr. Carl G. Harris will be funeralized on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 11:30 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Hampton, Virginia.

[Adolphus C. Hailstork (b. 1941) is featured at]

Monday, June 24, 2013 'Emahoy Sheet Music Project Launched'; Ethiopian Nun, Born in 1923, is Pianist and Composer

Mary Sutton of Portland, Oregon made this post in the Guest Book at today, June 24, 2013:

I am happy to announce that I am working with composer Emahoy Tsegue Maryam Guebrou to begin archiving and publishing her complete sheet music, as reported at Tadias magazine.
 hope to connect with others who are interested in this great composer!

Project Email:

Mary Sutton and Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou in Jerusalem, April 2013. (Courtesy photo)

By Tadias Staff

Updated: Tuesday, June 4th, 2013
New York (TADIAS) – Mary Sutton who studies piano performance at Portland State University in Oregon came across the work of the legendary pianist and composer Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru, having listened to volume 21 of the Ethiopiques CD series released in 2006, which featured 16 of the Jerusalem-based Ethiopian nun’s original pieces.
Mary grew up playing piano and is a graduate of the New England Conservatory. She recently told Tadias that she was immediately drawn to Emahoy’s “unique” sounds before realizing that there was no published sheet music of her compositions available for other pianists to play. That was prior to her trip to Israel in April to meet with Emahoy, who gave her the permission to create one.
Returning to Jerusalem this summer to begin the process of readying the manuscripts for publication, Mary shared that she is currently raising funds on Kickstarter for the project. “This Kickstarter is just the beginning of a lifetime of a work which has fallen into my hands,” she noted via the online platform. “And as all of Emahoy’s music serves a charitable purpose, I will not be getting paid.”
Emahoy, who was ordained a nun at the age of 21 at the Guishen Mariam monastery in the Wollo region, moved to Jerusalem in 1984 at the height of the military Derg regime in Ethiopia. However, that was not her first forced exile from her country. According to the Emahoy Music Foundation, she was taken as a prisoner of war by the Italians in 1937 and deported along with her family “to the island of Asinara, north of Sardinia, and later to Mercogliano near Naples.”
Emahoy was born “Yewubdar Gebru” in Addis Abeba on December 12, 1923 to a privileged family; her father was Kentiba Gebru, mayor of Gonder and vice president of Ethiopia’s first parliament under Emperor Haile Selassie. Her mother was Kassaye Yelemtu. “Yewubdar was sent to Switzerland at the age of six along with her sister Senedu Gebru,” the foundation notes on its website. “Both attended a girls’ boarding school where Yewubdar studied the violin and then the piano. She gave her first violin recital at the age of ten. She returned to Ethiopia in 1933 to continue her studies at the Empress Menen Secondary School.”

It was five years ago this summer, on July 12, 2008, that Emahoy, then 85-years-old, gave a rare public presentation at the Jewish Community Center in Washington, D.C., playing live for the first time in 35 years. “Her extraordinary performance was viscerally and emotionally moving,” wrote Makeda Amha, her great niece, in an article published in Tadias Magazine following the concert. “Her astounding ability as a classical pianist and her skill to warmly express “Reverie,” was a pleasure to listen to, as was “Presentiment,” a sweet, poetic Sonata in B-Flat Major.” 

Dr. Eric Conway writes of Final Day of Australia Tour of Morgan State University Choir Members

Dr. Eric Conway writes of Final Day of Australia Tour:

Well, we have come to the last day of our Australian tour, a travel day back to the good old U. S. of A.  

The plan was to leave at 7:30 PM, however two choir members were still in the bed at 7:30.  This delayed us about 25 minutes, which was not a great start to the day.  We had a similar group check in that we had going to Melbourne, however, the check-in was based on a strict schedule.  We barely made it.  Every bag made it safely on board. To put into perspective, we had a group of 35 arrive for an international flight under one hour before departure.  Whew! We could have still been in Melbourne, Australia, however, I believe that this was the good favor that we have had during every step of this journey.

We said our final good-byes to Udo Jungmann who was an exceptional tour guide.  When we first saw Udo, we believed that he was an Australian, however, he is from Germany.  English was his second language.  He spoke English remarkably well, without any German accent, but an assimilated Australian accent.  We will miss Udo for his calm resolve and sense of humor.  

To give you a sense of the timing of our day.  Upon departure to Australia on June 10, we lost 14 hours of our lives due to flying against the world time zones.  Today, we regained those 14 hours.  In other words, today we had ourselves a 38 (24+14)hour day.  We left our hotel at 7:30 AM on Friday, which was 5:30 PM Thursday morning Eastern Standard Daylight Savings Time.  Our flight from Melbourne to Sydney was a short one hour.  Our flight from Sydney to Dallas/Fort Worth was an exhausting15 hours.  Our flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to BWI was 3 hours.  We arrived in Baltimore at 8:45 PM. All in all, we had over 27 hours of travel time.

Fortunately, we travelled on a very fine Qantas airlines. Their service was exceptional.  Always enjoying a good gadget, you will notice a photo of an Apple iPad on the back of every chair as the movie and in-flight monitoring system - very cool.  If you are wondering if they might walk, there was a sensor on each device that much like a department store, would go off if left the plane, not to mention GPS tracking normally on iPads.

I wish that I could say that no one lost any luggage, but alas, it was not until BWI, the last leg of our journey, did a choir member lose any luggage.  Qantas fulfilled their contract by delivering the luggage to the Texas airport.  However, after reclaiming luggage after international customs declaration, and resubmitting to baggage claim through American airlines, one choir member's luggage did not make it - and it was HOT PINK!  I am sure that the airline will deliver tomorrow.

It felt so very good to arrive at BWI. We felt a sense of pride as we walked through the airport, glancing at a marketing piece for the university - Experience Morgan State Univeristy: Growing the Future, Leading the World!

What a grand tour this has been to Australia!  Many who have travelled on other trips with the choir said that this was the best, the best on so many levels. The shadow group who paid to accompany the choir said that they would travel with the choir again, in a heartbeat! The accommodations and included meals were first-rate. The tours taken to major sites were informative and interesting.  And most importantly, the choir sang well and made a lasting impression on Australia.  Through every concert, there were always several persons in tears.  Andrew Wailes, the director of the Melbourne University Choral Society told me that he has never cried as much as he did when he heard our group sing the Battle Hymn! What a strong message we bring to the world when we travel.  In the best Fisk Jubilee Singers tradition, Morgan is carrying our message to the world in song.  We believe that we are truly Baltimore's, Maryland's and the United States' best Ambassadors.  As the Melbourne theme for our joint concert so appropriately proclaimed we "Let the Light Shine!"

My only regret on this tour was the fact that I could not take more choir members abroad. This was very expensive, and we could only afford to take a choir of 20 voices.  This begs the rhetorical question - how many choir members do you need to make a representative sound.  Although many said that the number that I had sounded like 60 voices, the blend would have been better had I not had only 2 persons on a part when we broke into many parts.  Additionally, there were so many deserving choir members who would have loved to go, however, it is simply a matter of economics. I tried to balance taking some seniors who have graduated with some newer voices who have never traveled with the choir.  Many, as with every tour, are not happy with the fact that they did not make the list.  At the end of the day, this is a very difficult decision for me, but I guess this comes with the position.

For those of you who are English professors and very literate, please forgive any mistakes in grammar, typos, or lack of clarity.  I must confess that there were nights that I did not feel like continuing these reports, but knew that I had to finish what I had started.  I knew that there were many vicariously traveling to Australia through these reports - some call it a blog.

Finally,  see links below to photos and videos of the concerts.  All may not be posted until the weekend, but return and you will be able to see and/or download. I have taken over 1000 photos and must decide on what to share.  

Signing off Alla Aussie ease,


Photos link:

Videos link:

'Girma Yifrashewa performs at Habesha Nights' in Brooklyn During U.S. Tour

has a website at: 
and is featured at
from Sam Saverance
Habesha Nights
Renowned Ethiopian pianist and composer Girma Yifrashewa gave us a surprise performance last Sunday at our latest Habesha Nights Ethiopian dinner party in Bushwick, BK. It was a magical moment as he performed Chopin while we conducted the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony. The sultry sounds of piano mixed with the sizzle and intense aroma of roasting coffee. A truly unique and Ethiopian experience.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Pianist Stewart Goodyear and Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra in June 13, 2013 Performance of Olivier Messiaen's 'Turangalila Symphony' on YouTube

Stewart Goodyear

Sergio A. Mims writes:

Here is a YouTube video of a complete performance of  Olivier Messiaen's 

Turangalila Symphony (28:48) with pianist Stewart Goodyear recorded just last


Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra

Stewart Goodyear, Piano∙

Cynthia Millar, Ondes Martenot ∙

Paavo Järvi, Conductor

Recorded June 13, 2013

Sphinx Organization Announces 'Sphinx Stars: Detroit' Competition for $10,000 on WADL Detroit - Channel 38, 7:30 PM EDT Every Sunday in July

Pianist Benjamin Bradham In Free Concert At Steinway Piano Gallery, Paramus, New Jersey, July 12, 2013 at 7 PM

Benjamin Bradham writes:

Subject: New Jersey Concert

Dear Friends,

If you live near, or will be near STEINWAY PIANO GALLERY in Paramus, New Jersey on July 12 you are invited to a concert that I will be playing at 7pm on that date.  See the attached flyer for details.  I'd love to see you there. 

All the best,

Dr. Eric Conway on Day 9 in Australia: 'This will be our last remaining complete day in Australia!'

Dr. Eric Conway on Day 9 in Australia:

This will be our last remaining complete day in Australia!  Our morning is somewhat free to do as we please, with the last group lunch at 12:30PM.

Many of us were once again, trying to get those last minute souvenirs of Australia.  Melbourne has a relatively small center city area.  Given that our hotel was in the center of town, one could walk to most sites of intrigue.  If one did not choose to walk, one could take a taxi at prices less than Sydney, or a free public transportation system that circled the entire shopping downtown retail district.  We found this city to be incredibly tourist friendly.  Several of us decided to take the bus to the market, however, this was an adventure trying to determine which bus to take and/or when to get off.  

Melbourne had a similar market to Sydney run by the Chinese population.  As large as the market appeared in Sydney, the Melbourne Queen Victoria Market was twice as large with much more variety.  Many were so taken with this market, we barely made it back to the hotel to walk to our lunch site.

As this was our last day, a group meal on a river boat was planned.  This turned-out to be a perfect way to spend the last day, i.e. riding on a river boat seeing all the downtown sites on a slow almost-barge.  Melbourne reminded us in so many ways of European cities like Prague, Paris, St. Petersburg Russia. These are all cities that sit on rivers that are critical to the industry of the country.  We all commented on how little debris was in the water, despite being a major metropolitan center.  Our only comment was that the water seemed very brown in color.  We were told that this was because of the sediment in the mountains, not because of dirt.  The captain of the boat agreed that this was the cleanest river he had aver travelled on of any major city.  By the way, this was the Yarra River.  

We had another excellent meal.  We were given several choices of beef, chicken, pork or vegetarian.  Our tour guide Udo Jungmann had been exceptional to our group, always responding to our wishes as much as possible in the context of a scripted itinerary.  We all took up a collection for his extraordinary service.  I made the presentation on behalf of the group.  

Upon our return to the dock, which was only a 3 minute walk from the hotel, we had a few hours to relax and to begin to pack, as we would leave the following day early in the morning.  

Our final concert this evening was at St. Paul's Anglican Cathedral.  I found out from Andrew Wailes, that there was much excitement in the community for our concert this evening.  The concert was to begin at 8:30, which is late by most standards, much due to a church service finishing up at 6PM.  We could not begin any sooner due to needing time to build and set up the risers, platforms, and lights for the concert.  We all met at 6:30 PM to have a last minute rehearsal. Again, this was a joint concert with the Melbourne Choral Arts Society and the Morgan State Univeristy Choir.  

This concert site was remarkable.  We had a chorus of over 150 voices.  Melbourne, is the cultural city of Australia, despite the Sydney Opera House.  This city boast over 17 orchestra and over 50 professional and amateur choruses.  Our concert this evening was virtually sold-out,   Although cathedrals are notorious for their very reverberant acoustics, the St. Paul's choral sound was surprisingly good.  Although Melbourne's St. Patrick's cathedral is larger and taller, this cathedral boasts the longest nave in Australia, long and then, which may be why the sound was more focused.   

The concert opened up with remarks by the director of the host choir, Andrew Wailes.  His comments were followed by Melbourne's Consul General of the United States, Mary Burce Warlick who extended every courtesy to our president and university.  The first half of the program was all Morgan.  We give a 35 minute first half.  We finished our first half with our signature - Battle Hymn, led by recently graduated Thomas Allen.  The entire cathedral of over 1000+ individuals were on their feet giving our choir their plaudits.  

After a brief intermission, both choirs gathered to present the second half of the concert.  The first three selections were conducted by me.  The three American pieces that I sent ahead for them to learn for our joint presentation were: Steal Away, Precious Lord and With My Whole Heart.  What an experience to see people of another culture embrace our music.  Many have never sung music that was so spirited or moving.  When I was conducing, many had their eyes closed in total absorption of the music.  At the end of the evening, many Australian choristers said that they loved having me conduct them.  They felt so encouraged to sing their hearts.  The smiles were extraordinary.  

Andrew Wailes, conducted the final piece Morden Laruidsen's Lux Aeternam.  The Luridsen is a significant piece in the classical contemporary choral literature.  He conducting it well.  The sound was amazing with over 150 voices, black and white, singing in a beautiful European styled cathedral.   This venue was made for the Lauridsen.  At the conclusion, we jointly bowed for the concert and publicly presenting gifts symbolizing our love and admiration for each other.  At the conclusion, we were asked to sing two encores. Moses Hogan's The Battle of Jericho and a choice that on the surface may not have seemed most appropriate - God Bless America!  In the context that Australia and America have been allies since the beginning of Australian's political existence, and since this event was in part hosted by the American Consulate, it seemed to make sense.  At the conclusion, everyone, who stilled stayed in the hall, after Anitra McKinney's stirring lead performance, were clapping with vigor showing their support of the America and the choir!

After the concert, the Melbourne Univeristy choir treated the entire group out to drinks in a local pub (that is what Australian's do - go to pubs to socialize). The place for the exchange was a very upscale pub, with a beautiful view. Although we were very tired, and we had to be the bus by 7AM the next morning to leave for the states, virtually everyone at least in the choir stayed to the lounge until at least 2AM.  One reason why the post-concert exchange was so entertaining was the fact that there was a piano and open-mic in the room.  The Morgan State University Choir has never turned down an open mic!!!  Choir member after choir member with Chester Burke at the piano proceeded to share American music with the crowd.  At least 75 Melbourne choir members were in attendance and embraced every musical offering that was shared, and stayed until the very end.   I almost felt like it was an episode of "America's Got Talent".  If you are interested, I am sure that many persons posted the evening on YouTube - try Melbourne - Morgan State University Choir.  

Hard  to imagine  we must leave tomorrow.

More to come. . . one more day!

Dr. Eric Conway