Who’s the cellist? He’s really good! Black musicians matter! I would have liked to have heard and watched his entire performance for this interview along with his comments, front and centre! Instead, he was relegated to credits music and faded out, as predicted by the attitudes of several other commentators—pretty normal American attitudes toward this kind of music. I wonder if anyone else listened that far! We are trained by the record and radio industry to have a 3-minute attention span, and a 4-beat attention-span within that.
This is a statement and question that, perhaps not in these exact words, has been plaguing me as an anglo-american classical musician, trying to build a practice of accessibility to a wide range of people through performances at my public library.
I am a specialist in 16th, 17th, and 18th-century european music, whose economy of production took slavery and material plunder for granted. This bothers me!
I have digital access to printed and manuscript musical sources and a historically accurate copy of an instrument from that time and place. Meanwhile the artifacts (to say nothing of the know-how!) of African and most other musical cultures from that time at best are displayed silently in a european or american museum, and at worst were destroyed as part of deliberate cultural genocides and erasures (or appropriated and re-voiced in submission). This also bothers me!
And yet I am driven by the sound world in which my own gifts fit and flourish. THIS is what should be normal and available to everyone!
Here’s another european classical music stereotype—asians are really good at it. Where does this racist double standard of acceptance and encouragement in this field come from?
I had the inspiring privilege of enjoying the camaraderie and stunning musicianship of Toronto-born organist Kola Owolabi during both of our time in Montréal. Notice that the person assisting him at the organ in this complex performance also has to be entirely competent as a musician to follow the score with him, and in this case plays an indispensable role in performing some of the written notes of the piece.
David Hurd is another Black American organist and composer of international stature. This performance is posted as a demonstration of one of the finest church organs anywhere, but notice that Hurd is making up this coherent and glorious symphony as he goes along. Improvisation in the finest organ-playing tradition!
Leontyne Price needs no introduction. Also a loaded and pertinent performance.
It seems to me that we all need to recognise and take for granted that Black folks are just all sorts of regular folks with all sorts of interests, like everyone else.
re-posted from YouTube commentary