Classical Music

Music In The Making: Celebrating Black History Month

Featuring the groundbreaking musical styles of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Daniel Bernard Roumain.

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On this week’s episode of Music in the Making, we’re highlighting the works of two influential black composers from both the past and the present!

Samuel Coleridge Taylor – Selections from “24 Negro Melodies”

Nancy Weems, piano

Moores Opera House

10/5/2012

Our first selection is from Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, who was one of the first internationally famous black composers. An English composer with Creole ancestry, Samuel’s father was descended from African-American slaves who had been freed by the British after the American Revolutionary War. Samuel was interested in his mixed racial heritage and this inspired his music and social activism. He was the youngest delegate at the first Pan-African Conference in London in 1900. He also began to research African folk melodies, which strongly influenced his music. This selection for piano replicates the folk tunes he collected during this time.

Daniel Bernard Roumain – Fast BLACK Dance Machine

AURA

Moores Opera House

4/14/2014

Our next selection is from a different composer, though his music can be considered just as groundbreaking and socially influential as Coleridge-Taylor. Daniel Bernard Roumain, often known at DBR, began his career as a classical violinist. Eventually, his love for making music evolved into his career as a composer, which saw him study with the likes of William Bolcom and Michael Daugherty. Like Coleridge-Taylor, Roumain also used his cultural and social background to influence his work. He has since gained fame for using black contemporary music in his compositions. Our next selection is a great example of his unique style, as he incorporates his classical upbringing and a polished minimalist style with high-energy jazz.

Daniel Bernard Roumain – Selections from “Hip-Hop Studies and Etudes”

AURA

Moores Opera House

4/14/2014

Next we’ll listen to another work by Roumain that he wrote when he was the chair of Music Theory and Composition at the Harlem School of the Arts. He described this next work as a response to the cultural and musical needs of the students he taught there. He’s talking about his set of small compositions called Hip-Hop Studies and Etudes. Like Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier and Philip Glass’s Music in 12 Parts, this work is a serious of small musical vignettes for various ensemble types.

Daniel Bernard Roumain
Daniel Bernard Roumain

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor – The Willow Song

Cynthia Clayton, soprano; Timothy Hester, piano

Moores Opera House

10/5/2012

Finally, we’ll close tonight’s program with another work by Coleridge-Taylor. These lyrics might seem very familiar, as they have been set to music many times throughout history. These famous words are actually taken directly from Shakespeare’s Othello. Coleridge-Taylor’s take on this text, entitled “The Willow Song”, was dedicated to Phyllis Neilsen-Terry, a notable Shakespearean actress in the early twentieth century.

This episode originally aired Sunday, February 28th, 2016. Catch Music in the Making every Sunday at 7:06 PM on Classical 91.7.

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