Few classical music enthusiasts are aware of the contributions of an African-French composer, Joseph Boulogne, also known as Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges. Preceding Mozart by 11 years, Saint-Georges composed four operas and many mid-18th century works on par with or exceeding his contemporaries. His compositions are known around the world but garner little notice in the United States.
In recognition of black classical composers and classically trained musicians, the Charleston Symphony Orchestra Spiritual Ensemble is pleased to host a history-making event that will once again showcase masterworks by acclaimed black composers and showcase the contributions of black female composers.
For years, black classically trained voice professionals have made enormous strides beginning with Marian Anderson’s groundbreaking 1955 debut at the Metropolitan Opera. Leontyne Price, Jessye Norman, Kathleen Battle, Denyce Graves and many others have followed, showcasing the “colour” of voice. On the orchestral stage, however, the prevalence of black classically trained instrumentalists in America lags behind their vocal counterparts.
Within the U.S. military, the corporate world, professional sports and politics, black Americans have moved beyond the boundaries that held back their ancestors. Yet today, only on rare occasions does a black conductor, concertmaster or principal classical musician grace the concert stage of a major American city or regional orchestra.
We hope you will join us in celebrating the enormous contributions these talented musicians have offered the world. The Colour of Music Black Classical Musicians Festival will feature vocal, piano and organ recitals, classical mixed ensembles and a finale chamber festival orchestra of black musicians presenting works by Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Charleston native son, Edmund Thornton Jenkins, William Grant Still, Fred Onovwerosuoke, Dominique Le Gendre, Nkeiru Okoye and many others. We look forward to seeing you in the audience.