by Anthony R. Green
While many composers throughout history have had children, precious few of those children become professional composers. While we have some examples from European composers such as Johann Strauss and his son Johann, Johann Sebastian Bach and a couple of his sons (ex. Carl Philipp Emanuel), Karlheinz Stockhausen and his son Markus, Hendrik Andriessen and his son Louis, and others, the numbers diminish when focusing on specifically Black composers. On this Father's Day, let's take a look at two Black composers whose had children who were composers!
The first composer examined today is Mzilikazi Khumalo! While he predominantly is known as a scholar and professor of African languages, his contributions as a composer cannot be ignored. His interests in linguistics has resulted in his repertoire including many vocal pieces using texts in various African languages. His most beloved work is his opera Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu, the first opera in the Zulu language. Watch one of his 5 African Songs in an orchestration above! His son Andile Khumalo is a prominent, celebrated, highly experienced young, contemporary composer, whose music embraces many styles, and is rooted in avant-garde and experimental techniques. A music lecturer at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, Khumalo's music has been performed internationally, and recently championed by Ensemble Dal Niente. Check out their portrait concert below!
The next two composers are quite special. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor is no stranger to Castle of our Skins, and one of the better known Black composers of history, especially given the popularity of his Hiawatha's Wedding Feast (which was, at one point in history, more frequently programmed and performed than Händel's Messiah ). Castle of our Skins recently performed his Clarinet Quintet in a collaboration with Windsor Music, which you can find below!
Avril Coleridge-Taylor, one of Samuel's children, was an accomplished composer and pianist. Controversially, her conservative views - most likely attributed to her ability to pass as white - included an indifference towards apartheid practices in South Africa. While serving as a researcher there, her quarter-African heritage (through Samuel's father) was discovered, and she was banned from professionally working there, which changed her opinion about apartheid quickly. In her life, she composed the Ceremonial March to celebrate Ghana's independence, as well as chamber music, solo piano music, and a piano concerto. At the moment, none of her music is available on YouTube. I found a snippet of her Nocturne for piano, played that snippet, and uploaded it for all of you BIBA fans. Enjoy the video below, and Happy Father's Day!
COOS INTERRUPTS YOUR SEMI-REGULAR SCHEDULED BIBA POSTING TO INTRODUCE ...
THE BLACK COMPOSER MINIATURE CHALLENGE! #BCMC
Excited by the overwhelming success and support of last year's #BCMC, Castle of our Skins has extended last year's #BCMC project into 4 parts! In this next installation, composers who identify as Black and part of the African diaspora are challenged to compose pieces for flute and harp! Each piece must be 30 seconds (give or take) or less. Pieces can be scored for:
- solo flute (piccolo, C, alto, and bass)
- solo harp
- flute & harp duo
* if wanting to use auxiliary instruments, electronic or digital elements, or think outside of these parameters in any way, please consult with Anthony at anthony [at] castleskins.org BEFORE starting your piece!
- Pieces are due August 1, 2021 by 11:59PM; early submissions are welcome and encouraged!
- The works will be rehearsed and recorded before September 1, 2021
- The miniatures will be performed in various presentations during Castle of our Skins's upcoming 9th season. Stay tuned for more information about the premieres of these pieces!
How to submit:
- Please send your piece as a PDF and any necessary material for performance (parts, tracks, notation keys, etc ...) in any relevant format to anthony [at] castleskins.org . *Note: if sending multiple files, please use Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, WeTransfer, or other multifile web service
- along with your piece submission, please send a creative headshot and a 100 word or less bio, with any social media handles/website links you would like shared (even if you've submitted and were selected in the past!)
- NOTE: This is part 2 of a 4 part project! Composers can be part of only 2 of the 4 parts. Composers from part 1 applying to #BCMC 2.0 can NOT apply to parts 3 and 4!
WE LOOK FORWARD TO PREMIERING YOUR MINIATURES!
by Anthony R. Green
Did you catch it? Did you see Castle of our Skins's latest digital on-demand project titled From the Motherland? Including today you have 8 days left! For those who haven't seen it, set aside some time in your calendars to watch it ... at least twice! For those who have seen it only once ... SEE IT AGAIN! Why, you may ask? This performance is so rich that it is difficult to appreciate it fully in one go, even though one can easily go on this incredible journey with Tanyaradzwa and her incredible band-mates, and experience such a life-affirming musical exhibition that is sure to leave a deep impression on your heart, mind, body, and soul.
Photo Credit: www.RobertTorresPhotography.com
During this performance, Tanyaradzwa's journey through 12 songs evokes the spirit of Mwedzi, a Chivanhu word meaning moon, month, and menstrual cycle. In this evocation, Tanyaradzwa intimately and boldly recounts her journey into womanhood. She writes: Mwedzi tells the story of my rite of passage into Womanhood. This 12-year journey began in 2008, when I left Zimbabwe for the United States. As a Zimbabwean woman living in the USA, staying grounded in ancestral wisdom has been vital for my survival.
The songs run the gambit of emotions, in parallel to Tanyaradzwa's 12-year story. Enthusiastic, community-building songs invite the digital audience to participate (like the fun, bright, and rhythmically sophisticated Anchulele). Slower, intimate songs bring the audience into a spirit of reflection and (perhaps) penitence and honor (like the incredibly poignant, simple, transcendental Mwoyo Muti). Then there are moments of unadulterated mature wit and clever surmounting of life's obstacles (like the cheeky, whimsical songs Chef and Mysterious Woman). I cannot speak highly enough of the incredible musicianship of Tanyaradzwa and her band mates Etienne Charles and Gerson Lazo-Quiroga. What a synergy they all share; what a deep level of communication, clarity of destination, and ease in musical fluidity. The instrument combinations are fascinating, highlighting a wide range of colors and textures. The rhythms are so complex, yet all organically felt and executed by the incredible bond of these three talented lights.
From the Motherland - stop everything and watch now!
Writings, musings, photos, links, and videos about Black Artistry of ALL varieties! Feel free to drop a comment or suggestions for posts!