Celebrating Black History Month with the Music of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Saint Michael's College is presenting a concert of outstanding musicians playing works by African-Anglo musician Samuel Coleridge-Taylor in recognition of Black History Month on the 100th anniversary of Coleridge-Taylor's death. The concert, free and open to the public, with a free will offering suggested, will be Tuesday, February 7, at 7:30 p.m. in the Saint Michael's College Chapel.
The concert is organized by Dr. William Tortolano, Saint Michael's emeritus professor of music, organist, and author of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Anglo-Black Composer, 1875-1912.
"Coleridge-Taylor's work, The Song of Hiawatha, based on Longfellow's poem, was just as popular as Handel's Messiah in Victorian England," Dr. Tortolano said. "He inspired the Harlem Renaissance in America."
"Coleridge-Taylor, himself, was so inspired by American Negro Music and poetry that he in turn through musical compositions became a leader and shining light to an American Negro cultural renaissance," Dr. Tortolano said. He became an associate of such creative African-Americans as W.E.B. Dubois, Booker T. Washington, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and others.
The program of music by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor will include:
- The Essex Children's Choir, directed by Constance Price, singing works from "Othello"
- The Vermont Youth Orchestra Chorus, 60 voices, directed by Dr. Jeffrey Buettner, singing Choral Anthem, "Lift up Your Heads"
- Vocal soloists singing songs from "Hiawatha":
- Jessica Allen, soprano
- George Cordes, bass-baritone, member for six seasons of the New York City Opera.
- Wayne Dobbs, tenor, who sang at the Royal Opera House
- Pianists Elizabeth Cordes, Natasha Koval-Paden, Annemieke Spoelstra
- Organist Dr. William Tortolano
- The Tortolano String Quartet, performing "Fantasiestucke, op. 5, for String Quartet"
George Cordes has an extensive professional career in opera, having sung major roles for six seasons with the New York City Opera, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Dallas Opera, Metropolitan Opera in the Parks; Houston Grand Opera, PBS's Live from Lincoln Center. He also has appeared with the opera companies of Santa Fe, St. Louis, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Columbus, and Cleveland, and other regional houses.
The Essex Children's Choir celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Their Twelfth Night Celebration is musical highlight of the area. They perform widely and have been guests on National Public Radio's "A Prairie Home Companion."
Natasha Koval-Paden, well known in Vermont, studied at the Eastman School of Music and later Julliard. She has performed widely at home and abroad, and with the Tchaikovsky Chamber Orchestra. She is an affiliate artist with the music department of Middlebury College.
Annemieke Spoelstra was Music Student of the Year in the Netherlands in 1997, and in 2001, she was a finalist in Paris at the international Nadia and Lili Boulanger competition. Today she teaches and performs as a soloist in Vermont and with different instrumentalists and vocalists, and has a highly reviewed recording.
The Tortolano String Quartet includes all three Tortolano children, each one a professional musician, and grandson William, also a professional. Members are William Tortolano III, violin; Allegra Tortolano Havens, violin; Maryann Estabrook Tortolano, viola; and William Tortolano, IV, violin cello.