News and music to start the week.
In the continued protests, and continued attacks by police on peaceful protesters, we are heartened by the reactions from musicians, and music scholars, in working towards a more just society.
One of the standouts from the past week was an amazing story coming from Boston. Tufts University Professor Dr. Stephan Pennington, pictured above, turned his Twitch video game streaming site into a platform to discuss the history of Black voices in music and civil rights. The four hour stream, which you can watch here, raised $10,000 for organizations that pay bail bonds for protesters. Read more in The Boston Globe.
The Library of Congress has a guest post on their blog by scholar Bonny H. Miller, biographer of Augusta Browne. Miller discusses the manuscripts she found in the Library of Congress, and how to piece together the life and work of a woman almost forgotten to history. While Browne did not write any orchestral music, she is such an important antecedent for the later generations of women. Miller’s new biography of Browne (available from Boydell and Brewer) plays a crucial role in contextualizing the musical work of women in the 19th century. Those who describe Amy Beach as “The First Woman Composer of America” have ignored so much history and so many achievements.
Joseph Horowitz recaps a conversation held on the PostClassical Ensemble’s zoom chat with many scholars and performers, including George Shirley – the first African American tenor to be assigned leading roles at the Met. Mr. Shirley discussed his experiences with race in theater, and the continued work that needs to be done towards racial justice on the opera stage. Read more, and listen in, here.
Vulture shares the experience of composer Shaina Taub who was arrested from her own balcony white cheering protestors in the Upper West Side in New York City. Taub, who primarily writes for musical theatre speaks in great detail in the piece about her experience, and her calls for police reform. “I got arrested on the stoop of our building…. this was my small visceral window into the police brutality black folks have experienced for centuries.”
If you have our beautiful 2020 calendar, then you know that today, June 15, is the 87th anniversary of the premiere of Florence Price’s Symphony No. 1 in E minor, by the Chicago Symphony (led by Frederick Stock). (Our 2020 calendar is still for sale for only $10 US, includes postage in the US). This recognition of Florence Price is timely for a number of reasons — because of the crucial movement happening today asserting that Black Lives Do Indeed Matter; because June is officially African-American Music Appreciation Month, and because Illinois University Press has released Rae Linda Brown’s long-awaited biography, The Heart of a Woman:The Life and Music of Florence B. Price. We hope to feature more about Florence Price, her orchestral music (which was first recorded by The Women’s Philharmonic), and the important new book, in the near future.
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