Friday, March 19, 2021

Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson

Sheralyn and I were treated to a wonderful HSO concert program in Jones Hall this last Saturday night, which featured Copland's Clarinet Concerto and Beethoven's Symphony #2;  but it was a lesser known piece [to me] that captured my attention.  Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson's Sinfonietta #1. This was a wonderful piece that we [Sheralyn and me] had never heard before, but really loved.  Also, ashamedly, we knew very little of this 20th century African-American composer/conductor.

This from"African American composer and conductor Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson was born on June 14, 1932.  Prof. Dominique-RenĂ© de Lerma is a specialist in African heritage in classical music, and has kindly made his research file on Perkinson available to this site.  He points out that Perkinson was named for the Afro-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor":

He was born in New York City, where his mother – already familiar with the music of the Afro-British composer -- was active as pianist, organist, and director of a theater in the Bronx."

"His interest in jazz was stimulated while enrolled at the Manhattan School of Music in association with classmates Julius Watkins, Herbie Mann, Donald Byrd, and Max Roach. He has been engaged as arranger and/or music director for Marvin Gaye, Lou Rawls, Barbara McNair, Donald Byrd, Max Roach (as pianist in the Roach Quartet, 1964-1965), Melvin Van Peebles, and Harry Belafonte.  Arrangements he made for Hamiet Bluiett appear on the CD, Bluiett blueback, Justin Time JUST 158-2."

Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson

Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson's Sinfonietta #1 has quotes of Bach in the first movement along with the use of some polyphony, a characteristic from the Baroque Era. The second movement was very moving to me, almost sacred in its phrasing. The piece, composed in 1953, is scored for string orchestra with four short movements: 1. Allegro, 2. Largo, 3. Rondo - Allegro Furioso, 4. Allegro Vivace.

Listen to this beautiful mesmerizing Largo from his Sinfonietta for Strings:


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