Lost & Found: Black American Classical Music

A special vacation program is our latest collaboration with the PostClassical Ensemble of Washington, DC.

It includes highlights from a recent concert hosted by 1A host Jenn White at All Souls Church in the district.

It was the curtain-raiser for a one-season project that explores the roots of black American classical music. You are invited on a journey of rediscovery – from songs of sorrow to the spiritual arrangements of composer Harry Burleigh and musical prophecies of Antonin Dvorak.

PCE Executive Director Joseph Horowitz previously served as our guide as we explored the relevance of Antonine composers. Dvorak and Aaron Copland on the Cultural History of America.

The centerpiece this time is William Levi Dawson’s “Negro Folk Symphony”. Horowitz says “this is one of the most formidable, moving and exhilarating symphonies in the American symphonic repertoire”. So why, after its premiere in 1934, did it fade into oblivion?

Highlights are courtesy of PostClassical Ensemble as part of its partnership with Howard University and the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts. The performances also featured other prominent black composers. They include Florence Price and Margaret Bonds, with readings from WEB Du Bois and Langston Hughes.

It is a production “More than music”, scripted and edited by Joseph Horowitz. The technical producer was Peter Bogdanoff.

The music has been used with permission from Naxos. The film “The Souls of Black Folk” will be released on Naxos in January of next year.

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