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African American Composers:New Voices, New Music


Contemporary African American composers are diverse in their respective accomplishments and collectively represent a brilliant mosaic of exceptional music.
Their compositions are rooted in and influenced by a great history of mid 20th Century African American composers who preceded them: William Grant Still, William Dawson, Ulysses Kay, Margaret Bonds, Florence Price, Undine Smith Moore among others.
Jazz and African poly rhythmic influences showcased in the short and extended symphonic works of Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk are also part of the critical  fabric of inspiration.
These diverse and rich influences brought to the table of American Music Schools with a pedadogical and compositional focus on post War late Neo Classicism and  Twelve Tone worlds of Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, Elliott Carter and Pierre Boulez*  informed the formal sources of compositional influence of  many contemporary African American composers. * Agon, Requiem Canticles, Variations for Orchestra  and Le Marteau sans Maitre.
This page is dedicated to showcase a sample of exceptional African American composers of the late 20th Century and present day. 
The music is diversely rich and speaks with incredible poignance.

The repertoire which I have meticulously chosen and programed is done with intention of showcasing programming and commission opportunities for conductors, Artistic Administrators of Symphony Orchestras, Opera Houses and Festivals. 

This page showcases outstanding New music that adds value to Creative Place Making -a concept in The Performing Arts  of value added communal spaces of belonging such as at Concert Halls where multi tiered shared experiences and pride in those experiences take root and blossom akin to a Community Garden  in which all are welcomed to participate, help grow, sustain and to share in the harvest. 

Creative Placing Making....why is it important to the future of The Performing Arts?  

What does a commitment to diversity in the music performed, the guest artists featured  have to do with the events in Baltimore, Ferguson, New York , Charleston and Chicago?  
Why does diversity even matter in The Classical Performing Arts?

 After all, let's be real, there are no Black or Hispanic people active in Classical Music....   I have never seen a Black or Hispanic Guest Soloist in a Symphony Concert and certainly not a Black Conductor.....   I mean ..... Blacks and Hispanics are only into  Gangster Rap and Hip Hop....  right?   

Who ever heard of a Black Composer anyway .  After all, Composers of Classical Music are only White men....  Blacks really have nothing to offer outside of that troubled ex slave named Joe who sings Old Man River in Showboat or as drug dealing, drug addicted people from Porgy and Bess........ just like those rioters on CNN in Baltimore, Milwaukee, Ferguson,Chicago....and Los Angeles 25 years ago
1992 Los Angeles Rodney King LAPD  Iconic video
I am honored to have represented  world renowned composer, Anthony Davis during 2013 with continuing dialogue in 2016, Roy Jennings during 2015 and consultative dialogue with newer generation composers including Trevor Weston, Kerwin Young and others from 2012 through the present day

For additional music by African American Composers visit:
For Feature Editorials on obstacles African American Composers face in 2015 visit:

In Memoriam

Banner image: Courtesy @Chicago Sinfonietta

The Drum Major For African Americans in The Classical Performing Arts:The Late Conductor and Champion of Contemporary Black Composers' Music, PAUL FREEMAN.   

Founder of The Chicago Sinfonietta, Paul Freeman was one of the most influential musicians of color in the past 40 years to advocate for and make possible important new opportunities  for musicians and composers of color .   
Paul Freeman ushered in an awareness and provided a critical agency for the place of African Americans in the world of Contemporary American Classical Music.

The 1970s  Black Composers' Series on Columbia Records which showcased 400 years of the music of composers of The African Diaspora is one of  Paul Freeman's  important legacies.
 Rest In Peace, Drum Major Paul Freeman....  transitioned this week July 2015

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GEORGE WALKER: Violin Concerto (2008) - Movement III
Often described as "The Dean of African-American composers," George Walker (1922- ) was also the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1996 for his song-cycle "Lilacs".He beg...


The music showcased here is sourced from mp3 material available on as well as provided to me directly by the composer

 Shout For Joy  for Brass, Tympani, Organ and Large Chorus by Adolphus Hailstork.   This is a  magnificent work  that transcends languages, cultures and generations. 
 Shout for Joy is a grand work for Concert Halls around the world.   

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You can advance the player to listen to specific tracks by clicking on the forward tab in the music player above. Some tracks take a minute to load   You can also STOP the opening music in order to play the additional Music Players, Videos clicking the Stop/pause button above

 Features in Music Player#1

ALVIN SINGLETON  After Fallen Crumbs:   Performed by The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with Louis Lane. 

OLLY WILSON  Shango Memory For Orchestra
Shango Memory was commissioned by The New York Philharmonic for its 150th Anniversary and premiered under the baton of Kurt Masur.  
Listen to the premiere recording by The Detroit Symphony Orchestra with Neemi Jarvi  above

ANTHONY DAVIS   X, The Life And Times of Malcolm X: An Opera in Three Acts- Critical work of Opera Theater stage premiered by NY City Opera in 1986.  This masterpiece speaks with uncanny resonance for 2015   Amistad, An Opera about The Slave Ship Rebellion:Aria: The Unknown in My Realm from the World Premiere performance 1997 at Lyric Opera Chicago[This excerpt is featured in Emancipation/Civil Rights section below]


 JEFFREY MUMFORD:  Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra, An Expanding Distance for Multiple Voices:1  and An Evolving Romance for Flute and Piano

Oh Freedom  performed by Baritone, Will Liverman

JONATHAN BAILEY HOLLAND  Fanfares and Flourishes on An Ostinato
Premiered by The Detroit Symphony


GARY NASH: A Fraternal Prelude for Symphonic Band.
A Fraternal Prelude is a beautifully lyrical and poignant work that has standard repertoire status for Symphonic and Concert Band world wide at its core  

Joel Thompson The Seven Last Words of The Unarmed 
performed by The Michigan Men's Glee Club with The Sphinx Symphony Orchestra under the directionof Conductor, Eugene Rogers.

This performance was filmed during February 2017 Sphinx Music Gala, Detroit Symphony Hall, Detroit, Michigan

Also featured in Music Player#1 are 

Symphonic works by Adolphus Hailstork,  Billy Childs, Jeffrey Mumford, George Walker, 
Ulysess Kay, Julius Williams and Kerwin Young

The Art Songs of  H Leslie Adams, Richard Thompson,
Mark Lomax II and Shawn Okpebholo

Chamber music for Clarinet&Piano, Flute& Piano, Bassoon&Piano, Cello&Piano, Violin& Piano,Saxophone &Piano and Music for Percussion
by Dorothy Rudd Moore, T J Anderson, Chad Hughes, David T Baker, Alvin Baptiste, Mark Lomax II, Anthony Green, Tania Leon

Choral Music by James Newton, Tania Leon and Trevor Weston[featured below]

Piano Music by African Composer, Joshua Ozogiwe , Noted Spirituals arranger, Margaret Bonds     Additional Piano Music  by Adolphus Hailstork, Trevor Weston ,George Walker  featured in Music Players below

Celebrating  African American Art Songs and Poets 
And The Negro Spiritual @150 Years

A Cycle of Cycles

August 26th , 2017 4:00 pm
The Church of The Masters, New York, New York

A Concert of  the Music of Composers Roy Jennings, Valerie Capers, John Carter and Richard Thompson set to the verse of 
African American poets, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Langston Hughes 
This concert will also showcase The Negro Spiritual in contemporary arrangements

Celebrating George Walker
1996 Pulitzer Prize Winner
on the occasion of his 95th birthday, June 27th, 2017

George Walker, An American Outsider approaches his 95th Birthday
June 27th 2017

Serenades and Symphonies
The Southeast Symphony, Los Angeles
BYRON ADAMS - Serenade for 9 instruments
CHANDA DANCY - Centrifuge (world premiere)
JOHN ADAMS - Chamber Symphony
Shatto Chapel at First Congregational Church of LA
540 S. Commonwealth Ave, LA, CA 90020
May 18, 2017

George Walker and Choral Arranger/Composer, Roland CarterGeorge Walker and Choral Arranger/Composer, Roland Carter

Program from Inaugural 2013 Festival

Colours of Music, Festival Conductor, Marlon Daniels, October 2013

George Walker @ October 2013 Colours of Music Festival, Charleston, South Carolina
Photographs by Bill Doggett/ Bill Doggett Productions
Row 1: George Walker meets renowned Spirituals Arranger/Conductor, Roland Carter.   Row 2: With Charleston Festival Sponsors
Row 3: Festival Conductor, Marlon Daniel  and friend of George Walker, in standing ovation


The African American Art Song Alliance
20th Anniversary Conference
February 10th 2017
University of California, Irvine, 
Claire Trevor School of Performing Arts, Winifred Recital Hall

Premiered May 2016 at Composers of Color Collective, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill 
Music as an Inter generational Story Teller


The People Could Fly
for Narrator, Solo Violin and String Orchestra

The People Could Fly
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Innovations in Blended Genres:Third Stream and Classical Form

Bill Banfield: Im Dizzy Over Miles from Symphony #6-Four Songs for Five American Voices is an exquisite example of this genre 
*Listen for Banfield's masterful use of James Brown's iconic We're Gonna Have a Funky Good Time mid way. Miles Davis embraced James Brown fusion in his last albums in the first track in the Music Player below

R Jess Brown Jr: Symphony of Souls Versions 1 and 2 + Away Before Dark-  two late Miles Davis/Joe Zawinul evoking masterpieces of Third Stream's 1970s Variation...called Jazz Fusion
Away Before Dark in many ways evokes Miles Davis' score for the landmark 1958 Francois Truffaut  film: Elevator To The Gallows

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World Jazz: 
The Tixier Brothers
 Tony Tixier, Piano, Scott Tixier, Violin

Black Youth Composers

 XAVIER FOLEY:Solo #1    A tour de force by the 25 year old Philadelphia Curtis Institute student and 2014 Sphinx Music Competition First Place winner.
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Contemporary Black Women Composers


The exquisite Art Songs of  H Leslie Adams, Richard Thompson, Valerie Capers and George Walker

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 The Contemporary Piano Recital

 A sample of compositions of George Walker, Trevor Weston, Adolphus Hailstork, Maragret Bonds
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Spirituals and Songs of Praise in New Editions
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2017 marks The 150th Anniversary of the 1867 publication by Abolitionist musiciologists of 
Slave Songs Of The United States

Below are new settings of "Slave Songs" now known as Spirituals


Honoring The Abolition Movement's FREDERICK DOUGLASS
HARRIET TUBMAN and SOJOURNER TRUTH, listen below to two outstanding works for the theater and opera stage that capture the intensity of SLAVERY and The Middle Passage, Anthony Davis' AMISTAD and THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT and MALCOLM X, Anthony Davis' X, THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MALCOLM X

2013-2018 are critical years of rememberance  during which there will be much reflection on and new calls to #advancethedream of  Martin Luther King  as well as Malcolm' X's clairvoyance about strategies of redress in critical issues of social justice and Black community self empowerment.
ENTER: Anthony Davis' landmark opera of 1986: X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X
Listen to Malcolm's Aria , We Are A Nation and Malcolm X's iconic remarks about JFK and Dallas  November 22nd, 1963 and Martin Luther King's iconic call to action: If You Cant Walk....speech
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Want to hear MORE of X by Anthony Davis:visit my SoundCloud 

February 2017  SphinxConnect, Detroit Michigan
A Project of Sphinx Music Corporation

Music from Africa for Organ and Piano and The Diasporic Legacy in Cuba/Haiti/Brazil

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