b'IN CONVERSATIONWhen did the music of Joseph Bologne first enterdevelopmental stage would have been immenselyMaybe if more young people of colour your life? inspirational and would have meant so much to me as I first discovered the life and music of Joseph Bologne,an aspiring musician of colour. The world of classicalknew about Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, in the late 1990s, whilemusic is very white and male-centric, even today.I was a student at the Manhattan School of Music.his incredible life and music, thereThis was the first time I had ever heard of a BlackThe misnomer Le Mozart Noir (The Black Mozart) composer having influenced Mozart. My first reactionhas been applied to Bologne by many, includingwould be more musicians of colour in was disbelief, followed by anger, which led to a deepTafelmusik. How can orchestras help reframe the curiosity. How, after devoting most of my life to music,role of Black composers in the history of Westernthe classical music world today.had I not heard of such an influential and importantmusic?musical figure? Why was it hidden? I somehow feltBy performing works by composers of colour,Marlon Danielcheated.acknowledging their contributions, and giving them historical significance. When I hear Bologne referred You have devoted more than two decades toto as Le Mozart Noir, I understand the desire to scholarly research on Bologne. Why is his musiccontextualize his existence, but it in fact diminishes important to you personally?the accomplishments of an innovative composer whoThanks to music streaming platforms and thebecame an incredibly accomplished man in Europe as Representation is important! Maybe if more younginfluenced some of the greatest composers of thedigitization of the music industry, there is hugewell as a hero who fought against racial injustices and people of colour knew about Chevalier de Saint- 18th century, including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.potential to reach a new generation of listeners andfor those who could not fight for themselves.Georges, his incredible life and music, there wouldFrance at that time was a centre of the Europeana large audience. How does increased accessibility be more musicians of colour in the classical musicart and music world, and Saint-Georges was at theto Bolognes music help turn the dial on thisHow do you view your work as a mentor and world today.forefront of many stylistic innovations. He was aconversation?educator, and how have your own role models I grew up rarely reading about or seeing peopleleading figure in French classical music. That alone is aTheres no denying that digital media, such as theshaped the way you relate to younger students who looked like me on the concert stages. Thoughgreat achievement worthy of any music history book. internet, mobile phones, streaming sites, and socialand musicians?I had talent and training, I experienced a lack ofmedia, all make resources and accessibility ofEducation is hugely important to me, and my musical opportunity. Knowing of Joseph Bologne at this earlyinformation on Chevalier de Saint-Georges more far- education has been one of the saving graces in my reaching and ubiquitous. With that, however, can comelife, especially the handful of mentors who have misinformation and sometimes misaligned intent. Thesupported me. I want the same for the next gener-misnomer of The Black Mozart is a good example ofation of diverse artists, and it is important that our this. We need to be careful with the information thateducation system is free of systemic barriers, such we post and the way in which we present it, so thatas lack of representation, rather than continuing to alongside accessibility to all the new-found research,reinforce them. we are socially and historically conscientious of bias.My career as a conductor is still growing, and my To that end, I am actively engaging in online seminarsinternational performance obligations mean I can and workshops with musical and academic scholarsmentor only a few young students. However, as a on Saint-Georges.Black classical musician, I believe it is my obligation to educate other musicians, students, and the general As artistic and music director of the Festivalpublic about the rich history and music of composers International de Musique Saint-Georges, you haveof colour. In addition to being on the faculty at Fordham created one of the most prestigious classical musicUniversity, I am a frequent lecturer at organizations, festivals in the Caribbean. Why is it important toand schools, including Columbia and Yale Universities. host the festival in Guadeloupe? And unwittingly, I have become the heir to one of my It is significant that the festival is held in Guadeloupementors, the noted African American music scholar because it is the homeland of Joseph Bologne. To thisand Bologne expert Dominique-Ren de Lerma. day, his descendants live there and the remnants of the familys business, the Distillerie Rhum Bologne,The Music of Joseph Bologne will be re-released by are there too. It is also important to the people livingTafelmusik Media on June 18, 2021. Sign up for our in Guadeloupe to know that a great historical figureemail newsletter to receive updates, as well as for was born on their island. They have a great sense offurther reading on Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de pride knowing that, out of the oppressive and unjustSaint-Georges.time of slavery in the 18th century, one of their own Marlon Daniel with Orquesta Sinfnica Nacional de Cuba (National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba). Photo: Adrian Fuentes 7'