Since 1979, June has been African-American Music Appreciation Month. The Classics a Day team decided to adopt it for the June 2019 theme as well. Popular music genres will no doubt be well-represented by others. We’ll be focusing on the composers, conductors, and performing artists of color who have contributed to classical music.
For my part, my feed features African-American classical composers. Here are my posts for Week 1 of #ClassicsaDay #BlackMusicMonth*
6/3/19 Michael Abels (1962) Urban Legends
Abels is best known for his movie scores, “Get Out,” and “Us.” He’s also an accomplished classical composer, his first premiered work written at age 13.
6/4/19 Margaret Allison Bonds (1913-1972) Troubled Water
Bonds often collaborated with Langston Hughes and studied composition with Roy Harris. “Troubled Water” is based on a spiritual recast as a piano sonata.
6/5/19 Will Marion Cook (1869-1944) “In Dahomey” Overture
Cook was one of Dvorak’s composition students in America. His greatest successes came in theater and dance music. His 1903 musical “In Dahomey” was the first produced with an all-black cast on Broadway.
6/6/19 Leonard De Paur (1914-1998) Au Place Congo: Fomme La Dit, Mo Malhéuré
De Paur was a prolific composer and arranger of choral music. The De Paur Chorus did a goodwill tour of Africa in the 1960s. De Paur’s arrangement of the Congo song “Fomme La Dit” premiered in 1967.
6/7/19 Harry Lawrence Freeman (1869-1954) Voodoo
Known as “the black Wagner,” Freeman wrote and produced operas. His opera companies performed works by Freeman and other black composers. His opera “Voodoo” premiered in 1928.
*President Jimmy Carter initiated Black Music Month in 1979. President Barack Obama changed its name in 2009. We use the older hashtag #BlackMusicMonth simply because it’s shorter, and frees up more characters for the body of the tweet.