Last month, the African American Arts Institute at Indiana University, along with the Jacobs School of Music and the Archives of African American Music and Culture, presented a number of events to celebrate the works of black composers. This included a library exhibit and the latest in the “Extensions of the Tradition” concert series on Sunday, February 23rd in Auer Hall on the campus of Indiana University.
Featured works included “Three Fanfares for Four Trumpets” by American Neo-classical composer Ulysses Kay and “Five Negro Melodies for Piano Trio” by early 20th-century English composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.
More recent works were performed, including H. Leslie Adams‘ cantata “Hymn to Freedom,” conducted by JSOM music student Ronald Nash, and Valerie Capers’ “Songs of the Seasons,” for soprano, cello, and piano.
Director Dr. Charles E. Sykes said that this year’s concert focused exclusively on chamber works written by black composers. The concert was performed exclusively by students from the well-known Jacobs School of Music. Repertoire
Coleridge-Taylor: Five Negro Melodies, Op. 59 (1906) for piano trio
Capers: Song of the Seasons (1987) for voice, piano, and cello
Dundee: Special Ops (2012) for reed quartet
M. Lomax: Trouble Don't Last (2012) for bassoon and piano
Perkinson: Movement for String Trio (2002)
H. L. Adams: Hymn to Freedom (1989) for soprano, tenor, and baritone soloists
Durand Jones, research and artistic assistant at the African American Arts Institute produced and programmed this year’s concert, commented, “Whenever you think of a black composer, you don’t necessarily think of a classical composer. You may think of jazz or something contemporary, like R&B or soul,” said Jones. “Whenever we go to an orchestra concert or recital, usually we hear music from white men from European descent. And rarely do we get to hear something from the African Diaspora, which has an interesting and different way of interpreting classical music.”
Other highlights of the concert were “Movement for String Trio” by late IU professor Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, which Jones called “an emotional, driving piece.” Perkinson taught with the IU Soul Revue at the African American Arts Institute in 1996.
The “Extensions of the Tradition” concert series has been held at Indiana University since 1993, when former professor William C. Banfield was named the director of the IU Soul Revue, an ensemble of the African American Arts Institute. The concert series is produced through the collaborative efforts of the African American Arts Institute, the Jacobs School of Music, and Archives of African American Music and Culture.