Saturday, October 14, 2017

Tenor CAMEO HUMES is soloist for "Hiawatha's Wedding Feast"

Chicago tenor CAMEO HUMES will solo with the CBASO and the CBA Chorus in "Hiawatha's Wedding Feast" at St James' Episcopal Cathedral on Wednesday, November 8th as the winner of The American Prize Chicago Oratorio Award. Mr. Humes was chosen from a field of more than a dozen vocalists from all over the country who applied for the opportunity. A bio of the artist is below.

Cameo Humes

CAMEO HUMES is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after tenors in the operatic and concert repertoire. He has performed with Fort Wayne Philharmonic, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Hilton Head Choral Society, Gainesville Civic Chorus, and the Orchestra Sinfonica dell’International Chamber Ensemble in Italy. His most recent engagement included a debut with Teatro alla Scala in the roles of Peter, Crab man, Mingo and Robbins in their production of Porgy and Bess. Other operatic credits include the title role in Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito, Ottavio (Don Giovanni) with Operafestival di Roma, Almaviva (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Gastone (La Traviata), Prunier (La Rondine), Peter (Porgy and Bess) with Lyric Opera of Chicago (cover), Dayton Opera and Skylight Music Theatre of Milwaukee, Crab man (Porgy and Bess) with The Princeton Festival, Nelson (Porgy and Bess) with Cincinnati Opera, Ballad Singer (Of Mice and Men), and Ensemble (Show Boat) with Houston Grand Opera. Mr. Humes has also performed regularly in the chorus of the Lyric Opera of Chicago since the 2014-15 season. He has performed as tenor soloist for the world premiere of Mozart’s Requiem staged with the Cincinnati Ballet, a performance that he repeated in the spring of 2015. Other recent concert engagements include Handel’s Judas Maccabeus, Mozart’s Grand Mass in C minor, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass with the Bach Society of Dayton, Bach St. John Passion and Mass in B minor, and The Seven Last Words of Christ by Théodore Dubois. He has recorded the lead role in Richard Thompson’s The Mask in the Mirror, a modern opera based on the life of Paul Laurence Dunbar; a role that Mr. Humes successfully portrayed on the stage with Trilogy Opera of New Jersey in 2014. A lover and avid performer of the Negro spiritual, he has toured Spain, France and Ireland with the world renown American Spiritual Ensemble, and has served as Adjunct Professor of Voice and Opera workshop at Central State University. Mr. Humes completed his undergraduate studies at Stetson University and earned a Master of Music degree from the University of Florida.

TICKETS are available here, or at the door.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

HIAWATHA program note by Miriam Scott

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Anglo-African composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) was just 22 and recently graduated from the Royal College of Music (RCM), London, when he completed Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast. Hiawatha, a cantata for chorus, orchestra, and tenor, is based on a section of The Song of Hiawatha, the epic poem by noted American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. 

The piece was an instant hit from its first performance at the RCM on November 12, 1898, and during the beginning of the 20th century gained the young composer wide acclaim, if not financial security.  Insecure in his own abilities, and a novice in the music publishing business, Coleridge-Taylor sold the Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast’s copyright to music publisher Novello’s for a mere 15.15 British pounds, in today’s terms the equivalent of 1,855.18 GBP or $2,404.64.   During his 1910 visit to the United States Coleridge-Taylor remarked more than once:  “If I had retained my rights in the Hiawatha music I should have been a rich man.”

Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast was Coleridge-Taylor’s most successful production, in its time rivaling Handel’s Messiah and Mendelssohn’s Elijah in popularity. After the cantata’s premiere, Sir Hubert Parry, a contemporary composer, pronounced it “one of the most remarkable events in modern English musical history.” The work was received enthusiastically not only in England, but also in South Africa, New Zealand, and the United States. 

Despite the popular success of Hiawatha (more than 200,000 copies of the music sold during his too-brief lifetime), Coleridge-Taylor struggled to make a living for himself and his family and his extraordinary efforts to write original commissions, to conduct his and other composers‘ works, and to teach contributed to his premature death from pneumonia at the age of 37. 

From 1904 until his death in 1912 he was principal conductor of the Handel Society of London, and professor at Trinity College of Music, at the Crystal Palace School of Art and Music, and at the Guildhall School of Music.  At the time of his death, Coleridge-Taylor had produced 82 numbered compositions and some 25 other works.

Unlikely Musical Career
The composer in is studio
Coleridge-Taylor’s humble origins and dark skin would not necessarily anticipate his illustrious musical future, even if his unmarried white English mother named him after the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Coleridge-Taylor’s black African physician father (Daniel Hughes Taylor) returned to his native Sierra Leone before the child’s birth and, apparently, never knew of his existence. The composer experienced racism in England, although not as extreme as the racism in the United States.  In his early childhood, Coleridge-Taylor lived with his mother in his maternal grandfather’s modest household in the London suburb of Croydon. This grandfather sparked Samuel’s musical gift when he gave the five year old a small violin and his first music lessons.  

In addition to his violin mastery, Coleridge-Taylor was an in-demand boy treble soloist at several churches. His musical talent recognized, Coleridge-Taylor in 1890 at age 15 entered the RCM.  The young man soon showed promise as a composer and in 1892 was accepted as a student to RCM composition teacher Charles Villiers Stanford, at the time a noted composer.  By the age of 20, Coleridge-Taylor had already scored nearly 30 vocal and instrumental works.  Inspired by Johannes Brahms’ Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, Coleridge-Taylor wrote his own clarinet quintet, leading Stanford to acclaim the originality of his student’s work.  Thus Coleridge-Taylor became the RCM’s star student in composition, and in 1893 he received the RCM’s only composition fellowship.

Referring to young Coleridge-Taylor, the music critic Auguste J. Jaeger wrote to his future wife that “I have long been looking for a new English composer of real genius and I believe I have found him.” Mr. Jaeger became a champion of Coleridge-Taylor’s music and pressed music publisher Novello’s to publish Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast.

Coleridge-Taylor in 1897 completed his studies at the RCM where several of his student compositions (mostly small group chamber pieces) were performed. Edward Elgar, even in Coleridge-Taylor’s lifetime considered a top English composer, was among the music luminaries of the time who were impressed by Coleridge-Taylor’s work and promoted it.  Elgar urged the directors of the prestigious Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester to perform Coleridge-Taylor’s Ballade in A Minor for Orchestra in 1898.

Hiawatha

Longfellow’s poem, completed in 1855, adopted the trochaic tetrameter [a rapid meter of poetry consisting of four feet of trochees; a trochee is made up of one stressed syllable followed by one unstressed syllable] of the Finnish epic poem The Kalevala. When he chose to set the poem to music, Coleridge-Taylor acknowledged his attraction for the characters’ curious-sounding Indian names such as Nokomis, Chibiabos, and Iagoo, and that “The essential beauty of the poem is its native simplicity, its unaffected expression, its unforced realism”. Furthermore, Coleridge-Taylor was a great admirer of the Czech composer Antonín Dvořák, and of that composer’s Symphony from the New World which, some experts say, was inspired in part by Longfellow’s Hiawatha. The unusual rhythms of Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast are said to be a reflection of Coleridge-Taylor’s admiration for Dvořák’s music.

African-American Influence

Although many of Coleridge-Taylor’s works resemble the style of white English composers, even from his student days he was interested in reflecting his African heritage.  In this last pursuit, Coleridge-Taylor looked to African-Americans.  He found inspiration from the Fisk Jubilee Singers, a gospel chorus from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, that had toured in England.  Coleridge-Taylor also partnered with African-American poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar, whom he met in London in 1896, to set some of Dunbar’s poems to music.  And he composed some African-themed orchestral works.  The overture to Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast even incorporates strains from the African-American spiritual “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen”  and the composer used melodies of African-American spirituals in his “Twenty-Four Negro Melodies, P. 59” for piano.  Contemporaries reported that he advocated for black classical music.

U.S. Reach

Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast was performed in the U.S. before Coleridge-Taylor’s tours here in 1904, 1906, and 1910.  The Ann Arbor, Michigan Argus-Democrat of December 15, 1899 announced a December 18 performance by the Choral Union with the Chicago Festival Orchestra.  The Chicago Apollo Club on April 15, 1901, at the Chicago National College of Music, presented the premiere Chicago performance of the cantata which “is creating quite a furore both in England and in this country”, the monthly magazine Music reported.  Also in 1901, the African-American Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Choral Society of the District of Columbia was founded specifically to perform Hiawatha and it invited the composer to conduct the piece when he would tour the U.S. which he did for the first time in November 1904.  In an unusual honor at the time for an individual of African descent, President Theodore Roosevelt received Coleridge-Taylor at the White House during the composer’s 1906 visit.

The composer was well-known and respected among African-American communities in the early 20th century, much as Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X are well known today.  Schools were named after him, including The Historic Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School in Baltimore, Maryland, and Coleridge-Taylor Montessori Elementary School in Louisville, Kentucky.

In a spring 1908 letter to Coleridge-Taylor, the honorary treasurer of the S. Coleridge-Taylor Choral Society summed up African-Americans’ high regard for the composer and his cantata: “In composing Hiawatha you have done the coloured of the U.S. a service which, I am sure, you never dreamed of when composing it.  It acts as a source of inspiration for us, not only musically but in other lines of endeavor. When we are going to have a Hiawatha concert here, for at least one month we seem, as it were, to be lifted above the clouds of American colour prejudice, and to live there wholly oblivious of its disadvantages, and indeed of most of our other troubles.”

Chicago Pleasure

During his visits to Chicago in late November/early December 1904 and 1906, Coleridge-Taylor conducted a program of his shorter pieces but not Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast.  Although the composer’s 1904 Chicago concert was arranged with only 10 days’ notice, the hall was full.  Reportedly, the Chicago concert pleased him more than the others:  “My best time was in Chicago.  The audience was made up almost entirely of those whom you would call really musical people, and there was no mistaking the immense German element among the listeners. Coloured people always put in a large attendance, and they were most enthusiastic.”

Song of Hiawatha Trilogy
A memorial to the composer in his hometown of Croydon (SCT in the center).
Following Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast’s success, Coleridge-Taylor completed two more sections in 1899 and 1900, The Death of Minnehaha, and Hiawatha’s Departure, respectively.  The trilogy, published as The Song of Hiawatha, was first performed in its entirety in 1900 at the Royal Albert Hall. The last two parts never attained the success of Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast.   However, from 1924 until the beginning of World War II, the complete trilogy and the Hiawatha Ballet Music were performed with costumes, scenery, and up to 1,000 performers at the Royal Albert Hall for two weeks annually.  The famous English conductor Sir Malcolm Sargent recorded Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast in 1929 and again in 1961. 

While in modern times Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast, and Coleridge-Taylor’s music, had declined in popularity, interest in black composers has grown most recently spurring new performances and recordings.  On the 100th anniversary of the work’s premiere, it was revived in Boston in 1998.  The Colour of Music Festival in Charleston, South Carolina scheduled a performance for October 21, 2017.

On August 24, 2017, during Chicago’s classical radio station WFMT’s Mid-Day program, host Lisa Flynn played a cut from a new release (Music by Composers of African Descent, or Violin Gems from Black Composers issued summer 2017) by Hungaro-Ethiopian violinist Samuel Nebyu playing Coleridge-Taylor’s Romance, Op. 39.  Again on September 6, 2017, WFMT aired Coleridge-Taylor’s Clarinet Quintet in A.  Rachel Barton, Chicago’s own star violinist, in 1997 released a new recording under the Cedille label of Violin Concertos by Black Composers of the 18th and 19th Centuries including Coleridge-Taylor’s Romance in G Major for Violin and Orchestra.

The British paper The Guardian in a June 2, 2015 article titled “Ten black composers whose work deserve to be heard more often” says of Coleridge-Taylor: “Even better [than Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast] are Coleridge-Taylor’s works for violin and orchestra, which are elegant pieces of fin de siecle romanticism.”

- Program note by Miriam B. Scott

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

LISSA VISHNESKI'S fun FLIER for this week's CHAMBER CONCERT—Thanks, Lissa!

CLICK HERE for TICKETS!


WONDERFUL PROGRAM for the CHAMBER CONCERT this Sunday, October 1, 2017

CLICK for TICKETS!

CHICAGO BAR ASSOCIATION SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
CHAMBER MUSIC RECITAL
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2017, at 3:00 P.M.
PIANOFORTE STUDIOS, CHICAGO, IL

PROGRAM



Wind Quintet No. 1 in D major, Op. 124    Giulio Briccialdi

The Fair Use Quintet
Judith Grubner, flute
Mary Callaghan, oboe
John S. Vishneski III, clarinet
Katherine Erwin, bassoon
Michael McVickar, French horn

Piano Trio in C minor, Op. 1, No. 3    Ludwig van Beethoven
Movement I: Allegro con brio


The Tribunalle Trio
Patricia Bronte, violin
Julia Nowicki, cello
Neil B. Posner, piano

“Dove sono i bei momenti” from La nozze di Figaro    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Patricia Mehler, soprano
Janet Eckhardt, piano

“Shiao Lu”    Inner Mongolian Traditional Folk Song
(arranged by Ting-Yi Ma)

Ann Shih-Hoellwarth, soprano
Janet Eckhardt, piano

Trio for Flute, Clarinet, and Bassoon, Op. 32    Kaspar Kummer
Movement I: Allegro


Judith Grubner, flute
John S. Vishneski III, clarinet
Brian Chang, bass clarinet



~ INTERMISSION ~



Concerto for Two Violins in D minor, BWV 1043    Johann Sebastian Bach
Movement I: Vivace


Sara Su Jones, violin I
Carlin Metzger, violin II
Dennis Moore, piano

Album Leaf    Mikhail Glinka

Sara Su Jones, violin
Dennis Moore, piano


Cello Sonata No. 1 in E minor, Op. 38    Johannes Brahms
Movement I: Allegro non troppo


Gary DeTurck, cello
Neil B. Posner, piano

“Vocalise” from 14 Romances, Op. 34, No. 14    Sergei Rachmaninoff

Juditha A. Seghers, soprano
Emily A. Chen, violin
Janet Eckhardt, piano

Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 34    Johannes Brahms
Movement I: Allegro non troppo


Marian L. Chen, violin I
Patricia Bronte, violin II
Emily A. Chen, viola
Gary DeTurck, cello
Neil B. Posner, piano

Thursday, August 3, 2017

OUR 2017-18 season AT-A-GLANCE

The Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra
32nd Season—2017-18
David Katz, founding music director and principal conductor
Marek Rachelski, resident conductor
Michael Poulos, assistant conductor

The Chicago Bar Association Chorus
12th Season—2017-18
Stephen Blackwelder, chorus director
Janet Eckhardt, chorus accompanist
Rebecca Patterson, director emerita

The Fair Use Wind Quintet will perform on October 1st
SPECIAL SEASON EVENT:
Chamber Music at PIANOFORTE featuring members of the CBASO and the CBA Chorus
Sunday, October 1, 2017 at 3pm at PianoForte, 1335 South Michigan Avenue
TICKET LINK: http://chamberpianoforte.bpt.me


The Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra & the CBA Chorus
David Katz, founding music director
Composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
November Concert: chorus and orchestra
“HIAWATHA in CHICAGO”
TICKET LINK: http://hiawathainchicago.bpt.me
SPECIAL WEBSITE: http://hiawathainchicago.blogspot.com/
Wednesday, Nov 8, 2017 at 7:30 pm St James Cathedral—Wabash @ Huron

David Katz conducting
Dvorak—New World Symphony
Coleridge-Taylor—Hiawatha's Wedding Feast (chorus and orchestra)





Michael Poulos, CBASO assistant conductor
Joanne Burne
December Concert: orchestra only
“HOLIDAY SPARKLE”

TICKET LINK: None. Concert is free.
Friday, Dec 15, 2017—noontime concert at Harold Washington Library

Michael Poulos, conducting
Joanne Burne, piccolo soloist
Rossini—Overture to La Gazza Ladra
Vivaldi—Piccolo Concerto
Rimsky-Korsakov—Polonaise from “Christmas Eve”
plus Holiday Favorites


Stephen Blackwelder & Marek Rachelski

Sara Su Jones
March Concert: chorus and orchestra perform separately
“DOUBLE DEBUT”

welcoming our new CBA Chorus Director and CBASO Resident Conductor
TICKET LINK: http://doubledebut.bpt.me
Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at 7:30 pm St James Cathedral—Wabash @ Huron

Marek Rachelski conducting orchestra portion
Stephen Blackwelder conducting choral portion (without orchestra)

ORCHESTRA:     Mozart—Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major
                Sara Su Jones, violin soloist
            Schubert—Symphony No. 3

CHORUS:        Pachelbel Magnificat in D
            Schubert Miriam's Song of Triumph
                solo soprano: Susan Nelson
            Gywneth Walker I Will Be Earth   



Rossini's Stabat Mater will feature soloists from The American Prize
May Concert—chorus and orchestra
VERDI & ROSSINI’S “STABAT MATER”

TICKET LINK: http://rossiniverdi.bpt.me
Wednesday, May 16, 2018 at 7:30 pm St James Cathedral—Wabash @ Huron

David Katz conducting
Verdi—Oveture to La Forza del Destino
Rossini—Stabat Mater
Soloists—winners of The American Prize


Saturday, July 15, 2017

HIAWATHA'S WEDDING FEAST returns to CHICAGO

HIAWATHA in CHICAGO
HIAWATHA in CHICAGO: November 2017. Join The Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra and the CBA Chorus, Chicagoland's unique musical ensemble of attorneys, judges and legal professionals, for a very special revival of Anglo-African composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's once world-famous cantata, HIAWATHA'S WEDDING FEAST, returning to Chicago on November 8, 2017 at St James Episcopal Cathedral, conducted by Maestro David Katz.

HIAWATHA TICKETS

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor as a young man.
BACKSTORY
by David Katz, founding music director and principal conductor
of the Chicago Bar Association Symphony


Anglo-African composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) was black—his mother was English, his father from Sierra Leone—the first classical composer of African descent to be recognized internationally for his music.

Coleridge-Taylor achieved fame overnight with the premiere of Hiawatha's Wedding Feast, his setting of lines from Longfellow's epic poem, The Song of Hiawatha, which premiered at the Royal College of Music in November 1898, when the composer was just 22 years old. Hiawatha proved a sensation, was soon performed hundreds of times, selling hundreds of thousands of copies across the globe.

Because of the success his Hiawatha cantata garnered for him, Coleridge-Taylor toured the U.S. three times, meeting President Theodore Roosevelt at the White House and conducting the work in many places, including St. Louis, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Boston, Washington, and in Chicago.

Racial prejudice being what it was (and sometimes, unfortunately, still is) it is perhaps not surprising that the music of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor disappeared into the void in the years following his early death at the age of 37. But for a time, during the first decades of the last century, as the article on Wikipedia states, "Hiawatha's Wedding Feast became so famous in Britain that for many years it rivaled Handel's Messiah and Mendelssohn's Elijah in the public's affections."

The composer in his studio
Thirty-five years ago, I conducted the first Hartford performance of Hiawatha's Wedding Feast heard in that city in fifty years. The moment seems right for this charming, tuneful, gentle and fragrantly themed choral-orchestral work to again be heard live in Chicago, where I hope it will capture some of the excitement and joy the work once generated in a very different time. I am proud that the CBASO and CBA Chorus, joined by a tenor soloist selected from The American Prize, will be the ones to present its latest revival, and it is my plan for us to work with colleagues from the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College to bring additional attention and additional scholarship to our performance of the music of this unjustly forgotten composer.

On our November concert, I will pair Hiawatha's Wedding Feast with Dvorak's New World Symphony.

On Coleridige-Taylor's headstone near London are inscribed these words by poet (and the composer's close friend) Albert Noyes: Too young to die, his great simplicity, his happy courage in an alien world, his gentleness, made all that knew him love him.

I hope, after our encounter with his music, both audience and musicians will discover we feel the same way.

***

A short documentary about the composer on You Tube, narrated by his daughter and including excerpts from the cantata: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsYU8WfmIoA

The Wikipedia Article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Song_of_Hiawatha_(Coleridge-Taylor)#Background

A good recent performance on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yr1sdM67oH8
(The recording includes all of the cantatas that make up SCT's "Song of Hiawatha." Hiawatha's Wedding Feast is first, running about 30 minutes.)

TICKETS: http://hiawathainchicago.bpt.me/