Feb 11, 2021

Celebrating Black History Month: Concerts and Resources

February is Black History Month: a time to learn, reflect, and participate in festivities and events that honour the legacy of Black people and their communities.

In our spirit of celebrating beauty through music, Tafelmusik has compiled a list of virtual concerts and musical events celebrating Black artistry and legacy. This list reflects events coordinated by our local Toronto communities, and our larger classical communities globally, but is in no way exhaustive: if you are organizing or aware of an event, please tell us at info@tafelmusik.org, and we will add your contribution.

We would also like to share a list of some resources which explore Blackness in classical music. Historically, Black composers and performers have largely been written out of the classical music canon; and contemporarily, classical music has remained a largely white-dominated institution. The resources below offer ways to discover Black classical music history, celebrate Black classical artistry, and challenge notions of whiteness in the classical music world.

 

Black History Month concerts

Ongoing

Celebrations and Revelations
Presented by Joy Bullen—a local entrepreneur and champion of young Black musicians, who each year organizes Black History Month concerts which showcase Black talent—Celebrations and Revelations features the music of Black composers whose names have been neglected in Western classical music tradition. Featuring pianist, organist and composer Rashaan Rori Allwood, violinist Tanya Charles Iveniuk, trumpeter William Franklyn Leathers, and soprano Nadine Anyan.

This concert is free to watch through February 28

Link: https://www.joybullen.ca/2020/12/11/celebrations-and-revelations-2021/

Tiny Desk Celebrates Black History Month
This February, NPR Music's Tiny Desk Concert series will celebrate Black History Month by featuring 13 Tiny Desk (home) concerts by Black artists across genres. The lineup includes both emerging and established artists who will be performing a Tiny Desk concert for the first time.

These short concerts are free to watch through February 28 and beyond

Link: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLy2PCKGkKRVZuSGgyxGCqQnEH6gNjnAcq

Lift Every Voice
Presented by American Public Media’s YourClassical, Lift Every Voice is a collection of powerful songs, stories, and interviews celebrating the past and future of African American music. This program, hosted by Julie Amacher and Tesfa Wondemagegnehu, was curated with the intent of creating awareness around the African American musical past, while inspiring listeners to cling to the hopefulness of our musical future together as every voice is heard and celebrated.

This audio-only program is free to listen to through February 28

Link: https://www.yourclassical.org/story/2021/02/01/lift-every-voice

 

Feb 11

Oberlin College’s A Celebration of Black Artistry: Concert I
Presented by Oberlin College and Conservatory, tune in for this concert streamed live from Oberlin’s Warner Concert Hall featuring violin faculty members Sibbi Bernhardsson and David Bowlin, and pianists Robert Shannon and Haewon Song. This concert includes works by William Grant Still and Oberlin horn professor Jeff Scott.

This concert is free to watch at 7:30pm EST

Link: https://www.oberlin.edu/conservatory/stage-left
 

MelDubé
As part of their performance series, Toronto Black Film Festival presents MelDubé. An eclectic blend of natural Caribbean-inspired vibrations, soulful rhythms, and powerful vocals build the essence of Toronto-based independent artist Mel Dubé: her sound is neo-soul and reggae influenced, with a melodic pop fusion.

This event is free to watch at 7:00pm EST via Facebook

Link: https://torontoblackfilm.com/event/tbff-live-performance-series-day-1-2/

 

Feb 13

Eddie and Quincy Bullen
As part of their performance series, Toronto Black Film Festival presents Eddie and Quincy Bullen. Featuring beautiful arrangements for two pianos of classical, jazz, and pop music, punctuated with commentary about their father and son relationship and unique family history.

This event is free to watch at 7:00pm EST via Facebook

Link: https://torontoblackfilm.com/event/14910/

 

Feb 15

Kobèna Aquaa-Harrison
As part of their performance series, Toronto Black Film Festival presents Kobèna Aquaa-Harrison. An accomplished Ghanaian-Bermudian performer, producer, composer, and storyteller, the eclectic rhythms of his trademark “afrosonic jollof” is described as the sound when jazz, rock, reggae, and hip hop come face to face with their ancestors.

This event is free to watch at 7:00pm EST via Facebook

Link: https://torontoblackfilm.com/event/kobena-aquaa-harrison/
 

Feb 17

Joanna Majoko
As part of their performance series, Toronto Black Film Festival presents Joanna Majoko. A Toronto-based vocalist, composer, and bandleader, she been a regular presence on the  bandstand with some of the country’s top musicians, including Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, David Clayton-Thomas, of Blood, Sweat and Tears, and Larnell Lewis, of  Snarky Puppy.

This event is free to watch at 7:00pm EST via Facebook

Link: https://torontoblackfilm.com/event/14909/

Feb 18

Remember King
Castle of our Skins—a collective of artists of all kinds dedicated to advancing Black artistry through music—remembers Dr. King's legacy and his complicated life, and presents the most-performed works of two essential 20th-century American composers. Daniel Bernard Roumain's String Quartet No. 2 ("King") is a meditation on the recordings of phone calls between King and his mistresses and the women's roles in shaping the Civil Rights Movement. George Walker's Lyric for Strings is a poignant navigation of the space between pain and hope dedicated to Walker's memories of his grandmother, who had been enslaved.

This event is free to watch at 7:00pm EST via Facebook and at the link below

Link: https://www.celebrityseries.org/productions/castle-of-our-skins/
 

Oberlin College’s A Celebration of Black Artistry: Concert II
Presented by Oberlin College and Conservatory, Associate Professor of Voice Katherine Jolly hosts this pre-recorded concert of solo and chamber music repertoire. Faculty members Alexa Still, flute, Christa Rakich, organ, Drew Pattison, bassoon, James Howsmon, piano, and Peter Slowik, Kirsten Docter, recent alums Troy Stephenson ’20 and Marlea Simpson ’16, violas, present works by Valerie Coleman, Allison Loggins-Hull, William Grant Still, Edmond Dédé, and Maurice Arnold.

This concert is free to watch at 7:30pm EST

Link: https://www.oberlin.edu/conservatory/stage-left
 

Feb 19

Steele and Hardcore Reggae Band
As part of their performance series, Toronto Black Film Festival presents Steele and Hardcore Reggae Band. A three-time Juno nominee, Steele is described as dynamic and sensational, with the versatility and range that defies restriction to any one genre. He is as captivating in his handling of R&B material as he is with soul, reggae, classical, and jazz.

This event is free to watch at 7:00pm EST via Facebook

Link: https://torontoblackfilm.com/event/live-performance-series-steele-and-hardcore-reggae-band/
 

Feb 20

Backxwash
Presented by Kuumba—Toronto’s longest running Black History Month festival—and Wavelength Music Festival, this concert features electro-pop artist Maryze, shoegaze noise-pop artist Zoon, and 2020 Polaris Music Prize winner BACKXWASH

This concert is free to watch at 7:00pm EST

Link: https://www.wavelengthmusic.ca/wavelength-winter-festival-2021-backxwash-zoon-maryze/
 

Feb 21

Chineke! Duos - the 2021 African Concert Series
As part of the acclaimed African Concert Series—a programme which aims to educate audiences about the cultures of Africa through its music—this concert of African Duets includes music by African composers and strings arrangements of African traditional songs featuring Chineke! string duos with Sarah Daramy-Williams (violin) and Natalia Senior-Brown (viola), and Julian Gil Rodriguez (violin) and  Alix Lagasse  (violin).

This concert is free to watch at 7:30pm GMT, 2:30pm EST

Link: https://www.chineke.org/events/African-duets 

Black Musicians in Early Music: A Panel Discussion
Early Music America and The Handel + Haydn Society present a Black History Month conversation with leading Black musicians in the field of early music and historical performance practice. Presented in conjunction with their Well-Tempered Musician wellness series, this discussion features panelists Joseph McHardy, Reginald Mobley, Patricia Ann Neely, Rachel Redmond, and Jonathan Woody, and is moderated by Dana Whiteside.

This event is free to watch at 2:00pm EST 

Link: https://www.earlymusicamerica.org/event/black-musicians-in-early-music-a-panel-discussion/ 
 

Feb 25

The Fusion Sessions: Reggae Roots With Jah’mila
Presented by Symphony Nova Scotia. With deep roots in Jamaica and a home base in Halifax, Jah’Mila is an authentic, powerful voice of reggae in Nova Scotia. Jah’Mila’s vivid, unforgettable music celebrates reggae’s rich history, and reinforces its role as a voice of the oppressed. Together with musicians from Symphony Nova Scotia, Jah’Mila blends her own songs with hits from icons like Sister Nancy and Bob Marley to create Canada’s first-ever fusion of reggae and orchestra.

This event is free to watch at 7:00pm AST, 6:00pm EST

Link: https://symphonynovascotia.ca/concerts-and-tickets/concerts/2020-2021/free-the-fusion-sessions-reggae-roots-with-jahmila/
 

Oberlin College’s A Celebration of Black Artistry: Concert III
Associate Professor of Horn Jeff Scott hosts this pre-recorded concert featuring three of his own compositions and works by Ulysses Kay and Duke Ellington. Performers include faculty members Jeff Scott, horn, Drew Pattison, bassoon, James Howsmon, piano, Oberlin quartet-in-residence Verona Quartet, and the Oberlin Orchestra.

This concert is free to watch at 7:30pm EST

Link: https://www.oberlin.edu/conservatory/stage-left
 

Feb 26

The OBGMs
Presented by Kuumba—Toronto’s longest running Black History Month festival—and Wavelength Music Festival, this concert features punk rock quartet The OBGMs, and the psychedelic duo Kali Horse (f.k.a. Kaleidoscope Horse).

This concert is free to watch at 7:00pm EST

Link: https://www.wavelengthmusic.ca/wavelength-winter-festival-2021-the-obgms-kali-horse/
 

Feb 27

Beverly Glenn-Copeland
Presented by Kuumba—Toronto’s longest running Black History Month festival—and Wavelength Music Festival, this concert features legendary Canadian composer and songwriter Beverly Glenn-Copeland, trio-hop sounds from 2020 Polaris Prize short-listed Witch Prophet, and new age art-pop trio Shabason, Krgovich & Harris.

This concert is free to watch at 7:00pm EST

Link: https://www.wavelengthmusic.ca/wavelength-winter-festival-2021-bgc-witch-prophet-shabason/
 

Feb 28

Oberlin College’s A Celebration of Black Artistry: Concert IV
Presented by Oberlin College and Conservatory, tune in for this concert streamed live from Oberlin’s Warner Concert Hall featuring faculty members Francesca DePasquale, violin, James Howsmon, piano; Darrett Adkins, cello; and David Bowlin, violin, Mark Edwards, harpsichord. This concert includes works by William Grant Still, Jeffrey Mumford, and Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges.

This concert is free to watch at 4:30pm EST

Link: https://www.oberlin.edu/conservatory/stage-left
 

Chineke! Chamber Ensemble - the 2021 African Concert Series
As part of the acclaimed African Concert Series—a programme which aims to educate audiences about the cultures of Africa through its music—Chineke! delivers a programme of works by Black composers Errollyn Wallen, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, Florence B Price, Ignatius Sancho, Matthew Evan Taylor, Joseph Boulogne and Valerie Coleman.

This concert is free to watch at 7:30pm GMT, 2:30pm EST

Link: https://www.chineke.org/events/african-concert-series-2021

The Role of the Artist as a Catalyst for Change (ft. Christian McBride)
Presented by Living Jazz, as part of their “Intimate Talks with Jazz Icons” series, this conversation candidly explores inspiration behind music, what it means to be an artist during these challenging times, and what the future holds for the music industry. This conversation features Christian McBride, and is moderated by Andre Kimo Stone Guess.

This event is choose-what-you-pay—prices are $50, $30, $15, or free—and takes place at 7:00pm EST, 4:00pm PST

Link: https://www.livingjazz.org/call-response

Strawberries & Peaches: A TD Black History Month Cabaret
Presented by Arts Commons in Calgary, curator and cabaret host Lemba (Misha Maseka) has gathered songs, stories and humour from an undeniable collection of local Black femme artists to refresh our palates and celebrate the complex grace that is Black femininity. Featuring performances by Dallas Hayes-Sparks, Natasha Korney, Sabrina Naz-Comanescu, Morountodun Okedara, Amanda Okafor, and Chenelle Roberts.

This event is free to watch at 7:00pm MST, 9:00pm EST, registration is required

Link: https://artscommons.ca/whats-on/2021/strawberries-peaches-a-td-black-history-month-cabaret/

 

 

Resources on Blackness in classical music:

Music by Black Composers
https://www.musicbyblackcomposers.org

Music by Black Composers (MBC) was born from the realization that young musicians learning classical music seldom, if ever, have the opportunity to study and perform music written by Black composers. This omission silences a rich vein of musical creation from global cultural consciousness. With a multi-pronged approach, they are spreading awareness of and access to music by Black composers to children and adults alike in ever-expanding ways.
 

Melanated Moments in Classical Music
https://www.classicalmusicindy.org/podcasts/melanated-moments/

Melanated Moments in Classical Music, the award-winning new podcast from Classical Music Indy, shines a spotlight on musical works composed by, for, and about Black people. Melanated Moments is hosted by international opera soprano Angela Brown and music sociologist Joshua Thompson. For some listeners, Melanated Moments will uncover a hidden trove of classical music they never knew existed. For those with a deep musical knowledge, stories reflecting the cultural context of the African Diaspora will offer a fresh perspective on Black contributions in the world of classical music.

Castle of our Skins’ resource list
https://www.castleskins.org/resources.html

Interested in learning more about the music of Black composers from across the African diaspora and organizations ​that promote their work? Discover this incredible resource list, compiled by Castle of our Skins: a concert and educational series dedicated to celebrating Black artistry through music.

Festival International de Musique Saint-Georges
http://saintgeorgesfestival.com/ 
The Festival International de Musique Saint-Georges is a tribute to Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799), a great historical figure born in Guadeloupe. He was Europe's greatest fencer and an exceptional military leader at the time of the French Revolution, but his true love was music. In 18th century France, he was recognized as a virtuoso violinist, conductor and composer. His operas, concertos, quartets, symphonies and sinfonia concertantes influenced the great composers of his day, including Franz Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. His life inspired iconic authors such as Alexandre Dumas. One of the most prestigious music festivals in the Caribbean, the Saint-Georges International Music Festival stands out as a unique emblem for diversity in the classical music world.

The Sounds of Black Composers
https://www.dcomposed.com/black-composer-playlists 
Compiled by D-Composed, the Sounds of Black Composers playlist series explores Black composers across all genres and disciplines, in an effort to eliminate the hierarchy around what it means to be a composer.