The Classics a Day team unanimously decided to make #BlackLivesMatter the theme for July. Classical music isn’t immune to systemic racism. It’s an art form that, like painting, sculpture, literature, or poetry, is a powerful form of expression for many voices. But some voices are heard more often than others.
If you’d like to learn more about composers of color, I recommend Music by Black Composers as a starting point.
Here are my posts for the fourth week of #ClassicsaDay #BlackLivesMatter
07/20/20 Dorothy Rudd Moore (1940 – ) Fourth of July
This aria comes from Moore’s 1985 opera Frederick Douglass. The text is a setting of Douglass’ own Fourth of July speech delivered in 1852.
07/21/20 Irene Britton Smith (1907-1999) Sonata for Violin and Piano
Smith composed this work while studying with Vittorio Giannini at Julliard. Originally, it was an assignment for a composition class in larger forms.
07/22/20 R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943) – 8 Bible Vignettes
Dett wrote “We have this wonderful store of folk music—the melodies of an enslaved people … But this store will be of no value unless our musical architects take the rough timber of Negro themes and fashion from it music which will prove that we, too, have national feelings and characteristics.”
07/23/20 Daniel Kidane – Foreign Tongues for string quartet
Kidane is a British composer of color. He wrote, “[Classical music organizations] should promote diversity. By doing so they will make classical music meaningful for all and sow interest among future generations.”
07/24/20 Philippa Schuyler (1931-1967) – Five Little Pieces
Schuyler was a child prodigy billed as “The Shirley Temple of American Negros.” She was also a talented composer, author, and journalist. She died in a helicopter crash in South Vietnam while covering the war.
07/25/20 Derrick Spiva Jr. (1982 – ) Anthems of a Crowd
Spiva modeled his choral work on isicathamiya, a traditional Zulu call-and-response, and blends it with Hindustani drones and Ewe music from Ghana.