#Classicsaday #BlackHistoryMonth 2022 Week 1

February is Black History Month, and a great opportunity to explore the music of black composers. That’s what the Classics a Day team felt, anyway.
As always, I tried to find works and composers that I hadn’t shared before during #BlackHistoryMonth. Here are my posts for the first week.

02/01/22 Shawn Okpebholo – Two Black Churches

This song cycle is about two black churches, attacked by white supremacists. The first is the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama (1963), and Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina (2015). Okpebhol’s work focuses on a community that chose faith and hope over hate and fear.


02/02/22 Samuel Coleridge-Taylor – Overture to Hiawatha

“Hiawatha” was the work that made Coleridge-Taylor’s reputation as a composer. This trilogy of cantata was based on Longfellow’s poem.


02/03/22 James Lee III – Chuphshah! Harriet’s Drive to Canaan

This work celebrates the accompilishments of Harriet Tubman. After escaping slavery, she repeatedly returned to the South to free others again and again. Lee uses spirituals of the day plus battle songs from both the North and South to tell Tubman’s story.


02/04/22 Florence Price – Symphony No. 1 in E minor

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra premiered this work in 1932. It was the first symphony by a Black female composer to be performed by an American orchestra. It fell into obscurity shortly after the premiere, until rediscovered in the 2010s.

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