Afroclassical Composers Showcase Hosts Classical Music from the African Diaspora in October
Presentation of Afroclassical composersa new non-profit organization founded to celebrate the contributions of African American classical music composers and other members of the African Diaspora, will present its first post-pandemic live event on Sunday, October 16 at 4 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles, 2936 West 8th Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90005.
The event will feature the music of Afroclassical composers Dorothee Rudd-Moore, george walker, R. Nathaniel Dett and Maria Thompson Corley. The compositions will be performed on the piano by Maria Thompson Corley and Michael Ligon, executive director of Presenting AfroClassical Composers. The event will also feature a panel of experts discussing the impact of Afroclassical composers and related disciplines. The event is FREE with RSVP to https://cloud.broadwayworld.com/rec/ticketclick.cfm?fromlink=2191748®id=9&articlelink=https%3A%2F%2Fafroclassicalcomposers.org%2F?utm_source=BWW2022&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=article&utm_content=bottombuybutton1.
The mission of Presenting AfroClassical Composers is to increase knowledge and appreciation of the heritage and living composers of the African Diaspora through live performances of their compositions, performed by culturally diverse musicians and framed by conversations. interdisciplinary communities.
Artistic Director Michael Ligon brings together culturally diverse musicians and conductors who reflect LA County’s demographics and top talent to deliver a series of live performances of curated orchestral, solo and ensemble works , in locations around LA County. Performances feature classical music by female and male composers (heritage and living) from the African Diaspora, including those from Canada, Guadeloupe, Brazil, France, Guinea, USA, Nigeria and England.
Each performance will be framed by performers and panelists who are experts in music, ethnomusicology, architecture, visual arts, dance, literature, sociology, history or other disciplines complementary, allowing the public to discuss the social context and the historical and cultural influences on the compositions presented and composers.
The project was launched in 2018 by Ligon, in the form of a series of monthly Sunday Salons, in tribute and following the death of Dr. george walker, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and mentor to Mr. Ligon. The monthly gatherings paved the way for the expansion of larger-scale community conversations and live performances of works by composers from the African Diaspora.
Featuring AfroClassical Composers helps counter the misperception that classical music only involves European composers – A study by the League of American Orchestras indicated that works by Black composers are included in less than 1% of the top 10 compositions performed in subscription programming!
Another problem is the absence or lack of culturally inclusive studies in schools and universities. A pre-COVID/pre-George Floyd online review of LA County university and music school curricula shows that they often exclude composers from the African Diaspora. Consequently, many music and liberal arts students in universities, music schools and conservatories find it difficult to name just one or two (if any) classical composers from the African Diaspora, but can easily name , from memory, some five Russian composers.
The exclusion of such diversity creates limitations in the jobs, careers and livelihoods of black classical musicians and composers. Less than 2% of musicians employed by major symphony orchestras are black, according to a study by the League of American Orchestras. Visual observation reveals similar employment statistics reflected in the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Los Angeles Chamber orchestras. The Long Beach Opera’s pit orchestra during performances of the 2020 Pulitzer-winning opera Central Park Five reflects a similar lack of cultural/racial diversity among its musicians.
Presenting AfroClassical Composers is unique in that its events feature performances of excerpts and sections of curated compositions, rather than performances of them in their entirety. This offers listeners a much wider range of repertoire and composers, while providing greater cultural context than conventional renditions of entire compositions. Printed programs provide listeners with information for in-depth discovery and learning after and inspired by the presentation.
All performances are framed by interdisciplinary discussions with expert panelists, ending with an interactive community/audience discussion (talkbacks). The organization focuses on the works of accomplished composers from the African Diaspora who, prior to George Floyd’s death, were rarely included in the subscription concerts of similar organizations that receive public funding from LA County (such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Opera and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra).
Future musicians who do not see themselves in orchestras or hear works by diverse composers – including those from the African diaspora – experience a form of perceived exclusion, perpetuating a general and often unspoken conclusion that they do not belong not to these organizations. Conversely, Afro-Latina conductor Kalena Bovell reflects in a YouTube interview for the Sewanee Summer Music Festival, her surprise upon learning that at a school she had attended on several occasions, a young boy stood behind her regularly mimicking her direction moves. He saw himself in his actions and his presence.
Mr. Ligon notes, “The current lack of cultural representation and diversity in the performance offered to young musicians and composers often implicates an erroneous conclusion that the perceived value of black musicians and composers in these roles is diminished. Adding, “Presenting AfroClassical Composers offers exciting programs with accomplished musicians performing the works of classical composers from the African Diaspora, with experts discussing their impact in bringing these important composers and their brilliant work to life for current generations and future classical music lovers appreciate, understand, and enjoy.”