Works by African-American composers will be the focus of a concert to be held at Wayland High School on Friday, Jan. 31 at 8 p.m. The program will be presented by violist Ashleigh Gordon and pianist Joy Cline Phinney.
In addition to being an active performer in the Boston musical scene, Gordon has served as viola instructor in the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Intensive Community Program, a rigorous string instrumental program that provides instruction to populations often underrepresented in classical music.
At the Longy School of Music, she teaches a graduate course focused on creating culturally informed, site-specific artistic programming.
Gordon is co-founder and director of Castle of Our Skins, a Boston-based concert and educational series devoted to celebrating black artistry through music.
For Cline Phinney, notable concerts of the past two years include the New York Philharmonic’s Merkin Hall Concert Series; “Colour of Music” festival concerts in Houston and Richmond; collaborative concerts at Stanford, Harvard, Seattle, Brandeis and Tufts; resident artist and concerts with Castle of Our Skins; and engagements with the Artists of MusiConnects Quartet and Boston University’s quartet-in-residence Arneis Quartet.
Among the composers to be presented, Florence Price is noted as the first African-American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer, and the first to have a composition played by a major orchestra.
Of Adolphus Hailstork, the critic James Reel writes, “The impediment to his full acceptance by critics and cognoscenti early in his career is exactly what should endear him to more cautious music lovers as the decades pass – a lack of interest in serialism and other academic and avant-garde techniques … His music emerges naturally from 1940s American populism and although it does not celebrate a perpetual Appalachian spring, it has matured with the seasons to become a rich documentation of certain aspects of American life, particularly the African-American experience.”
Of his work, Anthony R. Green says that it “comments on many issues related to social justice, including immigration, civil rights, the historical links between slavery and current racial injustice in the U.S., and the contributions of targeted and/or minority groups to humanity.”
Margaret Bonds is one of the first black composers and performers to gain recognition in the U.S. At one point, she attempted to gain lessons with Nadia Boulanger, who upon looking at her work said that she needed no further study and refused to teach her.
The work that Bonds showed Boulanger was a setting for voice and piano of a poem by Langston Hughes – the same piece to be presented at this concert.
George Walker’s 1957 “Cello Sonata” was described by The Gramophone as “a revelation, showing the composer’s command of architectural and expressive elements.”
Cellist Emmanual Feldman and pianist Darry Hollister presented this piece in Wayland in 2014, and concertgoers will be fortunate to hear this new transcription for viola.
The concert, part of the Wayland Concert Series, is free and open to the public. It is made possible in part by a grant from the Wayland Cultural Council.
For more information visit waylandconcerts.org or call 508-358-2667.