Tag Archives: African-American Composers

Tues., Oct. 22nd, a Celebration Concert: “The Ulysses Kay Project” @ Columbia

 

 Ulysses Kay

 

On Tuesday, October 22, 2013, at 6:00 pm Columbia University Columbia University Office of the Chaplain’s Concert Series will feature the Harlem Chamber Players at St. Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University 117th Street and Amsterdam (See, map @ no. 12).  This concert is part of what the Harlem Chamber Players have titled “The Ulysses Kay Project”.The concert will feature performers:

Tia Roper – Flute

Ashley Horne – Violin

Orlando Wells – Violin

Audrey Mitchell – Viola

Lawrence Zoernig – Cello.

They will perform Kay’s: Prelude for Unaccompanied Flute, Flute Quintet and Selected String Quartets

It is a salute to the completion of Columbia University Libraries, Rare Books & Manuscript Library s work archiving, as Jennifer Lee, Curator for Performing Arts noted, “a treasure trove of material relating to all aspects of the composer’s work, from manuscript sketches to finished scores, including correspondence, photographs, programs, and his professional files.”

Michael Ryan, Head of Columbia’s Rare Books & Manuscript Library, at the time the Columbia received these works, commented, that Kay was “[a] prolific and important composer of contemporary symphonic, chamber, and choral music, Kay also wrote five operas, the most substantial and last of which, Jubilee (1976) and Frederick Douglass (1991), were based on themes from African-American history.” Ryan also noted that, “Kay was a formidable and versatile composer.”  It is amazing that we are approaching the 70th Anniversary of the New York Philharmonic premiere of Ulysses Kay’s first major work Of New Horizons: Overture at what was then West Harlem’s stunning Lewisohn Stadium which is now the site of City College of New York’s North Academic building.

Kay’s connection with Columbia goes back to 1946 when he was awarded the Alice M. Ditson Fellowship in Composition and studied with Otto Leunig.  He also was the winner of the BMI Prize for his work Suite for Orchestra, which Dean Dixon and the American Youth Orchestra premiered in 1945 and A Short Overture, which received the George Gershwin Memorial Award in 1946.

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) is Columbia’s principal repository for primary source collections.  The range of collections in RBML span more than 4,000 years and comprise rare printed works, cylinder seals, cuneiform tablets, papyri, and Coptic ostraca; medieval and renaissance manuscripts; as well as art and realia.  Some 500,000 printed books and 14 miles of manuscripts, personal papers, and records form the core of the RBML holdings.  One can find literary manuscripts from the 14th century to the papers of authors Herman Wouk and Erica Jong.  Archives as varied as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Random House, NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International-USA, and the archives of Columbia University are available for research.  The history of printing, graphic arts and the performing arts are strengths of RBML.

Ulysses Kay Project Pre-Concert Talk with Prof. George Lewis & Others, Oct. 21 @ 5:00 PM

Event Date:                 Mon, 10/21/2013 – 5:00pm

Event Location:        Room 754 of Schermerhorn Extension

 

Event Sponsors:       Department of Music, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Office of Government and Community Affairs

Admission Charge:  Free and Open to the Public

 

ULYSSES KAY PROJECT@ Columbia University Presents:

A Pre-Concert Talk featuring Prof. George Lewis, Jennifer Lee, Courtney Bryan, and Liz Player

 

Click for Information on the Tuesday Oct. 22 Concert featuring the Harlem Chamber Players.

 

On Monday, October 21, 2013 at 5pm in Room 754 of Schermerhorn Extension prior to the concert the Columbia’s Rare Books & Manuscript Library, Music Department and Office of Government & Community Affairs will sponsor a talk focusing on Ulysses Kay and the African American composer.  The panel will be led by George Lewis, Stephen Case Professor of Music and include Jennifer Lee, Curator, Performing Arts, Rare Books & Manuscript Library, Courtney Bryan, composer and DMA candidate in composition at Columbia and Director of the Institute of Sacred Music at Bethany Baptist Church of Newark, NJ and Liz Player, co-founder and Artistic Director for Harlem Chamber Players. They will discuss Ulysses Kay’s role as an American composer in early 20th Century and his impact on other composers and African American composer in particular.

This Ulysses Kay Concert is sponsored by the University Chaplain’s Office, Columbia University Rare Books & Manuscript Libraries, Columbia University’s Music Department and the Office of Government & Community Affairs.

Concert Information (TUESDAY OCT. 22 @ 6PM)

On Tuesday, October 22, 2013, at 6:00 pm Columbia University Office of the Chaplain’s Concert Series will feature the Harlem Chamber Players at St. Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University 117th Street and Amsterdam.  This concert is part of what the Harlem Chamber Players have titled “The Ulysses Kay Project”. The concert will feature performers:

Tia Roper – Flute

Ashley Horne – Violin

Orlando Wells – Violin

Audrey Mitchell – Viola

Lawrence Zoernig – Cello.

They will perform Kay’s: Prelude for Unaccompanied Flute, Flute Quintet and Selected String Quartets

It is a salute to the completion of Columbia University Libraries, Rare Books & Manuscript Library s work archiving, as Jennifer Lee, Curator for Performing Arts noted, “a treasure trove of material relating to all aspects of the composer’s work, from manuscript sketches to finished scores, including correspondence, photographs, programs, and his professional files.”

Michael Ryan, Head of Columbia’s Rare Books & Manuscript Library, at the time the Columbia received these works, commented, that Kay was “[a] prolific and important composer of contemporary symphonic, chamber, and choral music, Kay also wrote five operas, the most substantial and last of which, Jubilee (1976) and Frederick Douglass (1991), were based on themes from African-American history.” Ryan also noted that, “Kay was a formidable and versatile composer.”  It is amazing that we are approaching the 70th Anniversary of the New York Philharmonic premiere of Ulysses Kay’s first major work Of New Horizons: Overture at what was then West Harlem’s stunning Lewisohn Stadium which is now the cite of City College of New York’s North Academic building.

Kay’s connection with Columbia goes back to 1946 when he was awarded the Alice M. Ditson Fellowship in Composition and studied with Otto Leunig.  He also was the winner of the BMI Prize for his work Suite for Orchestra, which Dean Dixon and the American Youth Orchestra premiered in 1945 and A Short Overture, which received the George Gershwin Memorial Award in 1946.

Harry Lawrence Freeman


Thanks to the great work of Mellon Project Archival Processor Anne Holt, Columbia GSAS 2013, the papers of Harry Lawrence Freeman have now been processed and are available for use by researchers. The collection provides a wide range of materials related to American opera and to the artistic performance and social history of African-Americans from about 1890-1950.

Freeman is credited as being the first African-American to write an opera that was successfully produced. This was his Epthelia, that premiered at the Deutsches Theater in Denver on February 9, 1893 with a cast of 60. His second opera, The Martyr premiered there on August 16, 1893, and was performed with an inter-racial cast at Carnegie Hall in 1947, the composer conducting.

As part of the Carnegie Hall Festival Honor! A Celebration of the African American Cultural Legacy this spring, curated by Jessye Norman, the piano/vocal score of The Martyr from the Freeman Papers is on display in Carnegie Hall’s Rose Museum.

Freeman’s entry in Wikipedia states “Although many of his works were successful during his lifetime, they are not played today.” The reason for this is that his works were performed from the manuscripts, now at Columbia, and only a very few have been published. We hope to change this by finding sponsors to fund transfer of the manuscripts to performance copies.