Concert celebrates African-American classical music legacies

The Music Settlement returns to West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church on Sunday, March 26, at 3 p.m. for another collaborative concert series led by Chris Jenkins. The concert is free and open to the public. It will be held in the church Sanctuary, located at 20401 Hilliard Blvd., Rocky River.

While Northeast Ohio's rich legacy of African-American classical music performance and composition is not nationally well-known, during the late 19th and 20th century, it was a hub of activity and training for young Black musicians. During this period, musical training was available to them at only a select number of schools, such as Oberlin Conservatory, the Cleveland Institute of Music, New England Conservatory, and Howard University.

Composers such as Nathaniel Dett, Hale Smith, Dolores White, H. Leslie Adams, George Walker, and many others were able to pursue musical training at the secondary and conservatory level in Cleveland and the areas surrounding Oberlin Conservatory. An emphasis on racial inclusion was created in part by the prominent role played by certain parts of Northeast Ohio in the Underground Railroad, including the towns of Oberlin and Yellow Springs.

The program, titled “Linking Legacies,” celebrates the legacy of these composers by featuring performers with personal connections to the institutions where they trained, and to the composers themselves. This program will highlight works for voice, piano, cello and viola.

Founded by Almeda Adams in 1912 as part of the Settlement movement and featuring a campus that includes the 1910 Burke Mansion and the Bop Stop, The Music Settlement offers music therapy, early childhood education, and music instruction to people of all ages and levels of experience in Northeast Ohio.

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Volume 15, Issue 5, Posted 10:11 AM, 03.21.2023