His playing was a masterful achievment... Varied, capricious, controlled and monumental. . - Tidnengen, Sweden
Authoity, brilliance, and genuine fire were perfectly combined with sensitivity and lyricism.
Uncommonly gifted. His piano recital was both exciting and moving.
-The Washington Post (Washington D.C.)
As a performer of classical music my repertoire traditionally included the works of 18th, 19th and 20th century composers. However, my greatest emotional connection seemed to be for the music of 19th century Romantic Period composers. While the music of Beethoven always remained a favorite, the works of later composers such as Schubert, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann and Liszt resonated most deeply. Here was the music that embodied heroics, poetry, passion, rich harmonies, soaring melodies, dramatic dynamics, expressive sonorities and emotional freedom.
Throughout my 36 years as a Professor in Howard University’s Department of Music, I had the pleasure of teaching and learningabout graduates that had established themselves as world-class composers. Dorothy Rudd Moore, Adolphus Hailstork and Thomas Korth were among Howard’s esteemed graduates. Pianist and organist, Mark Fax, was a respected Administrator; Thomas Kerr was a Professor of Organ and Piano; and George Walker (who was a student in Howard University’s Preparatory School) has since become recognized as one of the world’s premiere composers. I am honored and proud to have performances of these six composers on this recording.
Among music historians who recognized the vast library of internationally recognized classical composers, there is an unmistakable chasm in which composers of African descent have been overlooked or omitted. As one looks back, were there no Black composers of significance other than Chevalier de St. Georges, who made appreciable contributions to the keyboard repertory of the 18th century Classical period? From the vast output of the 19th century Romantic period, were there not composers other than Frederick Eliot Lewis, who merited broader dissemination beyond their sociological arenas?
I feel privileged to include what I consider to be significant findings and acquisitions — some of which are still in manuscript — and hope they may become conduits for study, performance and publication.
CD 1: 19th Century Romantic Composers
CD2: Black Classical Composers
CD3: Howard University Composers
At an early age, my keyboard training was provided in a traditional manner. Reading notes and identifying chord patterns were invaluable learning tools. The large collection of music in my father's music library (he played the piano, but not seriously or consistently) provided me with an introduction to volumes of keyboard literature and composers. Subsequently, I had quick and easy access to numerous piano collections.
Many decades later in The Juilliard School Doctor Musical Arts program, I determined that extensive research should be given to the piano music by Black Classical composers. For him, as well as for me, this represented new awakenings. A year later, my doctoral dissertation, "The Keyboard Music by Composers of African Descent", became The Juilliard Library's most requested item. For me, it became the genesis for four decades of performances, lectures and recordings of keyboard works by these fine composers, including those who graduated from or taught at Howard University in Washington, DC.