May 16, 2022

6 Pieces By Black Composers Whose Inspirations and Innovations Have Helped Define Our American Sound

Composer Kris Bowers|Picture by Molly Cranna

Wynton Marsalis has actually successfully straddled the worlds of symphonic music as well as jazz and blues, with parallel professions as a author, bandleader, and trumpeter. He won a Grammy award for his recording of the Haydn Trumpet Concerto, and has actually been Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center– and was the very first jazz composer to be granted the Pulitzer Prize in Music, for Blood on the Fields. Hes written a Violin Concerto for Nicola Benedetti, a Swing Symphony, and Blues Symphony, which premiered in 2009.

There have actually been several composer/performers who blur the lines in between “popular” and “serious” music, from Joplin himself to iconic bandleader Duke Ellington, to some of his musical heirs: Wynton Marsalis and Jon Batiste.

On February 5th, KUSC Resident Artist Lara Downes shared “Crossings”, two hours of music from Black composers whose motivations and innovations help specify our American noise– from Scott Joplin and Florence Price to Wynton Marsalis and Jon Batiste. Please delight in choices from “Crossings” listed below.

Marsalis likewise has actually been a mentor to pianist, bandleader, and author Jon Batiste, who many understand from his efficiencies on The Late Show with Steven Colbert, in addition to teaming up on the Oscar-winning score for the 2020 Pixar film Soul.

Margaret Bonds followed in the footsteps of Price, translating traditional spirituals and her own product into chamber, choral, and orchestral works for the concert stage. Heres “Hold On,” which numerous will acknowledge as having the same tune as “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize,” an anthem of the Civil Rights movement.

Florence Price was writing music from an early age, and attended the New England Conservatory in Boston at the start of the 20th Century. She made history when the Chicago Symphony Orchestra played her First Symphony in 1933. Her works have actually been having a renaissance in recent years, as more artists and audiences have actually been discovering about her music, and her story.

Ellingtons “Come Sunday” draws on the traditions of jazz as well as the gospel music heard in churches. It was initially part of his “Black, Brown, and Beige” Suite, which he and his orchestra performed at Carnegie Hall in 1943.

Jon Batistes Nocturne No. 1 in D minor combines an insistent tango and Chopinesque virtuosity:

Jeffrey Freymann

Florence Price was writing music from an early age, and attended the New England Conservatory in Boston at the start of the 20th Century. She made history when the Chicago Symphony Orchestra played her First Symphony in 1933. Wynton Marsalis has actually effectively straddled the worlds of classical music as well as jazz and blues, with parallel professions as a composer, bandleader, and trumpeter. He won a Grammy award for his recording of the Haydn Trumpet Concerto, and has actually been Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center– and was the first jazz composer to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music, for Blood on the Fields.

Lara Downes is KUSCs Resident Artist and is currently KUSCs Evening Host weeknights 8PM-Midnight.

Jeffrey is an arts producer for KUSC and our sibling station, Classical KDFC, in San Francisco.

Another of this generations Black composers developing himself through his work in film and television as well as the concert stage is Kris Bowers. He composed the rating for the popular Netflix show Bridgerton, in addition to being the subject of an oscar-nominated and remarkable short documentary called A Concerto is a Conversation.

Lara Downes