About the Festival

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 sixth 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 annual Colour of Music Festival will take place at various venues throughout historic Charleston, South Carolina.

Assembling acclaimed black chamber ensemble players and artists to form the Colour of Music Orchestra, the five-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.

2018 Colour of Music Festival Highlights

Festival Highlights

The 2018 Colour of Music Festival is pleased to showcase leading black classical artists from France, Britain, Colombia, and the Caribbean performing this year in Charleston, Atlanta, Houston, Pittsburgh and Richmond highlighting the Baroque period (1600s-1750s) and Early Classical period, 1730-1809.

Unlike its first five years, in 2018 the Festival has exported its unique mission to the above locales and will complete its season embarking upon something rarely witnessed in North America—black artists performing world class chamber music in honor of Joseph Bologne, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges. Performances will be held in the historic Edmonston-Alston House Museum located on Charleston’s high battery overlooking the city’s majestic harbor.

Known as the grandfather of black classical music, Saint-Georges was a leading black composer in Paris during a time when many countries, including the United States, were participating in the slave trade. He broke musical barriers and his enormous contribution to black classical music advancements in Europe and abroad, though not well acknowledged, is an inspirational legacy.

Chamber Series I – III

The Baroque to Early Classical music theme is a perfect evolution for the Festival’s four expanded Chamber Music Series presentations. An impressive display of Baroque gems will include J.S. Bach’s Suite for Cello solo featuring Wade Davis, and George Phillipp Telemann’s Viola Concerto for Stings G Major, featuring virtuoso violist, Ashleigh Gordon, and baroque horn player, Van Parker, in a special presentation of Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Horns.

In honor of the late George Walker’s epic legacy as the first black Pultizer price winning black composers, virtuoso violinist Anyango Yarbo-Davenport will present a recital performance from Mozart to Porgy & Bess joined by pianist Kyle P. Walker in a performance of Mozart’s Sonata No. 32 in Bflat Major, K.454 for violin and piano .

Displaying the various hues of ‘colour’ and classical offerings by those of African ancestry, the Colour of Music Festival concludes the series highlighting the Lute (classical guitar) as Thomas Flippin returns on a program featuring Vivaldi and Luigi Boccherini’s Quintet No. 1 for Guitar and Strings. 

Chamber Series IV – Masterworks Showcase

Saturday October 27, 2018, the Festival’s premiere chamber ensemble will be led by Antoine T. Clark, Music Director of the McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra. Mr. Clark’s Charleston conducting debut will feature compositions that include J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concert grosso No. 3, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 29 and Joseph Haydn’s Cello Concerto No.1 in C Major featuring cellist, Kevin Phillip Jones.