Few classical music enthusiasts are aware of the tremendous contributions of Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, an African-French composer whose opera and classical masterpieces equaled or far exceeded those of his 18th century contemporaries. Although his compositions are highly recognized overseas, they have gathered little notice in the United States. Today there are thousands of celebrated and prodigiously talented classical principals, composers and performers of African descent throughout the world. Yet, their opportunities to grace concert stages of major American orchestras are rare to non-existent. The Colour of Music Festival’s mission is reversing this trend.
Now in its third year the Colour of Music Festival offers a musical kaleidoscope highlighting the impact and historical significance of black classical composers and performers on American and world culture. The third annual Colour of Music Festival will take place October 21-25, 2015 at various venues throughout historic Charleston, South Carolina.
Assembling acclaimed black chamber ensemble players and artists to form the Colour of Music Orchestra, the four-day Festival showcases some of the top black classical musicians in the United States, trained at some of the most prestigious music schools, conservatories and universities in the world.
Maestro Marlon Daniel, Music Director of New York based Ensemble Du Monde, Artistic Director of Festival International Saint-Georges and Principal Guest Conductor of the Sofia Sinfonietta in Bulgaria, will once again serve as Music Director and conduct the Festival’s orchestra. Festival headliners include Aldolphus Hailstork, Fulbright Fellow and a Cultural Laureate from the Commonwealth of Virginia, who will serve as the Festival’s first Composer-in-Residence whose works blend musical ideas from both African and European traditions.
Opening day of the Festival, in a special evening performance Wednesday, October 21, virtuoso violinist Gareth Johnson and the Colour of Music Virtuosi will perform Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges’ complete Violin Sonatas, Op 1, a premiere in the United States and Beethoven’s monumental “Kreutzer” Sonata For Piano and Violin No. 9 in A Major, Op 47, originally dedicated to 18th century Black violin virtuoso George Bridgetower.
Another Festival first includes a Saturday evening black tie gala performance of Hailstork’s Shout for Joy! followed by Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on October 24 led by Music Director Marlon Daniel. The Festival closes Sunday, October 25 with a glorious Ode to Black Composers in a performance of Johannes Brahms’ German Requiem under the baton of acclaimed composer and conductor Rollo Dilworth.
A four-part daily morning symposium series featuring thought leaders and musicians will highlight academic perspectives of the cultural contributions of black composers. Topics include Charleston’s Contribution to Classical Music, Black Female Conductors, a Black Musicologist Forum, and will feature black virtuoso violinist George Bridgetower.