Aaron Dworkin says he did not know about many black classical composers before he went to college. Long before he was named a MacArthur Fellow or became a University of Michigan dean, Dworkin lived in a small Pennsylvania town where he didn’t see other young men of color like him playing string instruments. The day Dworkin’s professor pulled works by William Grant Still off the shelf, a whole new world was opened up to him.
Trombonist Amanda Stewart compares it to a slow-moving glacier – the gradual acceptance of talented women playing brass instruments in the United States’ most renowned orchestras. Stewart is the associate principal trombone for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and is among the 3% of trombone players in the nation’s top orchestras who are women. When she was younger, she did not realize women had a small presence in the brass sections of professional orchestras.
March 13th marked the 62nd birthday of late composer and musical pioneer Moses Hogan. He is considered a pioneer of the modern spiritual, bringing the heart and soul of these historic songs to choirs across the nation. His work gave voice to the rich, deep history of the genre and brought it into the modern era.
Originally from Columbus, Ohio, composer John Mackey grew up without formal music lessons. Though his mother played the flute and the family owned a piano, he never played either instrument – partly due to the experience of his older sister, Lisa. She hated the piano, and as Mackey relates, he did not care for it either.
What started as a single day of music advocacy by the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) back in March of 1973 has grown into a month of celebration and advocacy for music in our schools. The tireless efforts of NYSSMA, other state organizations, and the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) to promote the importance of music education has been joined by the other arts, and March is now recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as “Arts in Our Schools Month.”
Most choir directors spend time thinking about how to keep their group vital and thriving. This usually involves the recruitment of new members from your congregation and community. Keeping things fresh and vibrant is a true challenge, and sometimes competing with the rest of the world to help grow your ministry can be tiresome. Here are some ideas about how you can invest in your ministry and grow in important ways.
Voices from 120 countries unite in one of the most powerful moments in composer Eric Whitacre’s film Deep Field. After the viewer travels through the cosmos via a stunning array of Hubble Space Telescope images, the time comes to return to Earth. At that moment, 8,000 voices ring out above Whitacre’s moving orchestra music. They represent the largest group to sing in one of Whitacre’s “virtual choirs,” and many participants said they were moved to tears when they saw how the final film represented humanity.
In February, we celebrate past presidents and their contributions to our national identity. The legacies of our past leaders are played out in history books and written into law, but who each individual was as a person can often be lost in their great deeds. Luckily, there are pieces of presidential personality still in our possession today that allow us to better understand who these men were, not only through what they did, but also through what they valued.
The idea for Black History Month was developed during a difficult time for African Americans in the United States. In 1926, segregation and racial violence against the black community was widespread. Amid this struggle, a man named Carter Woodson, now known as the Father of Black History, wanted to find a way to celebrate African American achievements.
Ola Gjeilo began composing before he could even read music. When he was a child in Skui, Norway, just outside of Oslo, he taught himself to play the piano and created compositions that his father, an accomplished amateur saxophonist, would write down for him. His father’s love for jazz music led to the heavy influence of jazz in Gjeilo’s music at an early age and a special fondness for the improvisations of pianist Keith Jarrett.