Happy #AfricanAmericanMusicHistoryMonth! Today we are celebrating New York Native, Jessie Montgomery!
Jessie Montgomery is a violinist, composer, and music educator. Montgomery holds a Bachelor’s degree from The Juilliard School in violin performance and a Master’s Degree in composition and film scoring from New York University. She has served as the Van Lier Composer Fellow at the American Composers Orchestra; been in Residence at the Deer Valley Music Festival; worked as the Composer-Educator for the Albany Symphony; and has received commissions from the Sphinx Organization, The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Young People’s Chorus of New York, and Cygnus Ensemble. Montgomery is a member of the Catalyst Quartet and serves as Composer-in-Residence for the Sphinx Virtuosi, an 18-piece self-conducted ensemble that tours the country each fall.
The Washington Post called her composition Strum (revised 2012) “turbulent, wildly colorful and exploding with life.” Banner, commissioned by Sphinx with the Joyce Foundation, premiered in 2014 at the New World Center in Miami and was called “urgent, inventive…daring” by the New York Times.
I hope you are all enjoying #AfricanAmericanMusicHistoryMonth as much as we are! Today we are celebrating Ann Hobson Pilot who is an American musician and the former principal harpist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops. She has performed with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony, and as a soloist with many orchestras in the United States.
She was one of four African American musicians who were the first to play in United States symphony orchestras during the 1960s.
Ann Hobson began studying the harp when she was 14. Though she achieved a concert caliber by her senior year of high school, she encountered obstacles due to her race. Following her graduation from the Philadelphia Girls High, she was able to attend the Maine Harp Colony, where she met pioneering woman harpist Alice Chalifoux.
Hobson was selected to play as master harpist in the National Symphony Orchestra in 1966, its first black member, replacing Sylvia Meyer. She continued with the National Symphony till 1969. Hobson was the second harpist with the Pittsburgh Symphony before joining the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1969 as Assistant Principal Harp and Principal Harp of the Boston Pops. She was named Principal Harpist of the BSO in 1980.
In addition to solo appearances with the BSO and Boston Pops, she has appeared as a soloist with many American orchestras. She has played at the Marlboro Festival, with the Boston Symphony Chamber Players and the contemporary music ensemble Collage, and is founder of the New England Harp Trio. Honors she has received include Sigma Alpha Iota’s Distinguished Woman of the Year Award in 1991, the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts School of Music Alumni Achievement Award in 1992, and the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Cleveland Institute of Music in 1993. In addition to New England Conservatory, Pilot is on the faculties at Boston University, Tanglewood Music Center, and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute.
Listen to Ann Hobson Pilot, harp & Tai Murray, violin - Romance (Op. 37) Camille Saint-Saens by visiting youtu.be/S256ue5gHsQ
Profiled in Ebony Magazine as one of 30 Leaders 30 and Younger, Joseph H. Conyers is the newly appointed assistant principal bass of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He joins Philadelphia after a one-and-a-half tenure with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, three-and-a half years as principal bass of the Grand Rapids Symphony (MI), and four summers as a member of the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra (NM).
Described by the Grand Rapids Press as “a lyrical musician who plays with authenticity that transcends mere technique,” Conyers performed as soloist with the Grand Rapids Symphony in a concerto commissioned by the GRS and written for him entitled “Prayers of Rain and Wind” by John B Hedges. He has also soloed with the Alabama Symphony, Flagstaff Symphony, the Savannah Symphony and Civic Orchestras, and the Sphinx Symphony having won second prize at the 2004 Sphinx Competition in Detroit, MI. In June 2010, Conyers made a solo appearance with the Dekalb Symphony Orchestra (GA) performing the Koussevitzky Bass Concerto.
Conyers has performed throughout the United States and Europe. He has served as principal (solo) bass of the Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra with whom he traveled extensively and recorded on the Naxos label. He also has served as assistant principal bass for Symphony in C (formerly the Haddonfield Symphony). Conyers has been a fellowship student and held principal positions at numerous music festivals including the Tanglewood Music Center, the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Verbier Music Festival in Switzerland, Brevard Music Center, and the Britten-Pears Music Festival in England. Conyers has performed in a number of orchestras including the Boston and Detroit Symphonies, Minnesota Orchestra, and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in a number of prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, and the Musikverein in Vienna, Austria.
A recipient of numerous awards and honors, Conyers attended The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and graduated with his bachelors degree studying with both Hal Robinson, principal bass of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and double bass soloist Edgar Meyer. Other mentors have included David Warshauer, Daniel Swaim, and Albert Laszlo. In 1999 he was one of the first guests of NPR’s “From the Top” with host Christopher O’Riley on one of its pilot shows. He was the inaugural recipient of the Sanford Allen Award (a $10,000 prize) from the Sphinx Competition, and in February of 2010, he was the first Sphinx Competition laureate to serve on the distinguished jury panel for the competition.
Conyers is the founder of Project 440 (project440.org). Formerly known as MusicAlive!, Project 440 has reached thousands of youths – exposing children and adults to classical music throughout the Savannah region. Broadening on that mission and acknowledging how the classical music industry must continually evolve with our ever changing world, Project 440 educates musicians from around the country how to become active, relevant, and integral pillars within their communities.
As we continue on during #AfricanAmericanMusicHistroyMonth, today we celebrate George Bridgetower, an Afro-European violinist and composer. You might recognize his name from the film "Immortal Beloved".
He is described in the film as ‘the famous virtuoso from Africa’ – but his father was probably from the West Indes.
In the scene, he plays Beethoven’s ‘Kreutzer’ Violin Sonata No. 9, a piece that Beethoven formally dedicated to Bridgetower. The scene recounts their real-life falling-out, which culminated in Beethoven withdrawing his dedication over an off-colour remark Bridgetower made about a lady Beethoven knew. Outraged, Beethoven opted instead to name his sonata after Rodolphe Kreutzer, the great French violinist.
Bridgetower’s name soon got lost in history, and he died in poverty in Peckham, his name forgotten. So next time you hear a performance of the Kreutzer Sonata, spare a thought for the man after whom it should really be named…
(Source: classicfm.com)Scene from the film which depicts George Bridgetower, "The famous Virtuoso from Africa", who was probably West Indian (Barbadian) on his fathers side. He is ... ... See MoreSee Less
Happy #AfricanAmericanMuiscHistoryMonth! Today we are celebrating Alex Laing with The Phoenix Symphony. He was recently recognized as 2018 Sphinx Medal of Excellence and named one of Musical America's Professionals of the Year for 2017.
Alex Laing began studying the clarinet at age 11 in his hometown of Silver Spring, MD.
In 2002 he joined The Phoenix Symphony as principal clarinet.
A longtime believer in community engaged music making, Alex also recently founded and directs The Leading Tone of Phoenix, a non-profit, after school project dedicated to exploring music as a context for youth development. They aim to use music to help young people develop skills to lead themselves.
A graduate of Northwestern University, he received his master's degree in Orchestral Performance from the Manhattan School of Music, an artist's diploma from the Sweelinck Conservatorium Amsterdam and a certificate in non-profit management from Arizona State University's Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation.
Alex is fortunate to have garnered a number of awards and honors during his career including fellowships from the Tanglewood Music Center, New World Symphony, Aspen Music Festival and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.