Friday, February 06, 2009

Black History Month, Take II

My trusty violin and I have once again joined the Black History Month choir.  This year, however, I got the bright idea to perform something by an African-American composer of classical music.  I knew I had a friend/colleague who played the piano, and the other violinist from last year was interested in playing too.  

So I recruited my piano-playing friend/colleague* to join me and the other violinist in playing some works of music by William Grant Still.  We're playing selections from his "Minatures," which were written for flute, oboe, and piano.  Obviously we're substituting violin for flute and oboe, which mostly works because they have approximately the same range.  But we did make some changes so that I didn't have to spend the whole flute part slicing my fingers on my violin's E-string.

I really like these pieces -- they are settings of American (not U.S. -- the continent) folk songs but they are not just simple and straightforward.  He's got some clever twists and turns in there.

I must admit I'd never heard of William Grant Still until I started looking for music to play, but he was quite a remarkable person -- just read his Wikipedia biography referenced above.  I like his music enough to try listening to one of his symphonies or something.

* This is a danger that friends of mine who also play musical instruments often find themselves in -- this is not the first time I've recruited someone to join a weird musical ensemble.

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