CONCERTS, INTERVIEWS AND MORE:
A look back at special moments in the arts in 2019.
A GLORIOUS RETURN
#1 After nearly 30 years, George Gershwin’s opera “Porgy and Bess” saw its return to The Metropolitan Opera House. The cast featured many star African-American soloists, including soprano Angel Blue, bass Eric Owens and Denyce Graves. We were in New York City for the studded opening night performance. This also marked our first piece for Prince George’s Suite Magazine.
Read more of the coverage in Prince George’s Suite Magazine: The Return of An American Classic
#2 There have been several deaths in the classical music community, but one that really resonated in the Washington community was the death of the world-renowned soprano Jessye Norman. Norman had a strong grounding in Washington, having graduated from Howard University and perhaps had one of her first professional engagements with the Cathedral Choral Society. One of the greatest sopranos of our time, she excelled particularly in the Wagnerian repertoire, charming audiences around the world. Earlier this year, Norman donated her entire collection of papers to The Library of Congress-which was announced in her presence as she was featured in a live conversation. Norman passed on September 30, 2019 and was funeralized in her hometown of Augusta, GA.
Read more about her last appearance in Washington, DC at The Library of Congress: Jessye Norman in Conversation
MAKING HIS MARK
#3 Artistic director of The Washington Bach Consort Dana Marsh continues to lead the respected ensemble to high acclaim. Marsh opened the 42nd season with “Music for A Royal Occasion” featuring the four complete Coronation Anthems by George Frideric Handel. The exuberant program set the program for an exciting season.
Read more about that concert: A Royal Occasion With The Washington Bach Consort
A PRESTIGIOUS DEBUT
#4 Concert violinist Daniel Hope made his concert debut at The Phillips Collection. The program featured works by Bach, Enescu, Mendelssohn and Bartok. This concert also marked the first published classical music review in The Washington Post written by Patrick D. McCoy.
Read the review here: “Violinist Daniel Hope in Fine Form at The Phillips Collection”
OTHELLO AT WASHINGTON NATIONAL OPERA
#5 Tenor Russell Thomas sang the title role of “Othello” by Giuseppe Verdi. Thomas’ appearance was not only an excellent performance, but it was also momentous occasion for the Washington community to witness this sterling African American tenor take center stage.
More on the performance: “Both Passion and Fury Ignite in Washington National Opera’s Production of Othello”
ARTS ADVOCACY IN THE COMMUNITY: The Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts
#6 The Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts has rigorously offered diverse programming throughout the 2019 season. These programs have presented opportunities for classical music to be given an audience in the African-American community. On the eve of the Congressional Black Caucus, several Prince George’s County luminaries were honored by the organization. The honorees were Judith Hawkins, Vocal Music Supervisor of Prince George’s County Public Schools receiving the CAAPA 2019 Arts Advocate Awardee for her work, commitment, and dedication to youth, the arts, and education. Prince George’s County Councilman and Chairman, Todd M. Turner representing District 4 was honored as the CAAPA 2019 Community Advocate Awardee for his continued work in the community and Raoul Dennis, Editor of the Prince George’s Suite Magazine and the Suite team members was honored as the CAAPA 2019 Communication Advocate Awardees for the extensive and meaningful media coverage of political, community and arts events.
PODCASTS: Informative Conversations with world renowned artists
#7 “Across the Arts” a classical music podcast on BlogTalkRadio has hosted several lively conversations centered around the appearances of performers in the Washington area. Guest during the 2019 Season have included tenor Lawrence Brownlee, former Washington Post Classical Music Columnist Anne Midgette, soprano Lisette Oropesa-who appeared with Washington Concert Opera, mezzo-soprano Kristina Nicole Lewis who joined The Choral Arts Society of Washington for their Annual Holiday Gala at The Kennedy Center, conductors Stanley J, Thurston (The Heritage Signature Chorale) and Christopher Bell (The Washington Chorus) Of special note, our podcasts conversations with Anne Midgette and Christopher Bell were both candid discussions about their career moves.
LISTEN TO THESE EPISODES AND MORE:
#8 This year also saw the introduction of wonderful publications that should be considered for the libraries of teachers, musicians and aficionados alike. Dr. Phillip Harris published a wonderful text “Songs and Spirituals: The Life and Music of Jacqueline Hairston.” As a companion, Harris also recorded a wonderful recital with pianist Damien Sneed. A former of student of the renowned composer, his book not only shares personal reflections on her work, but also musical analysis. Music historian and soprano Randye Jones published and released her book “So You Want To Sing Spirtuals.” The Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts hosted the official book release in Oxon Hill, MD.
PURCHASE “Songs and Spirtuals” Order Both Here
PURCHASE “So You Want to Sing Spirituals” Order Here
#9 The Heritage Signature Chorale marked its 19th Anniversary under the direction of its founding conductor, Stanley J. Thurston. Perhaps the only predominantly African-American symphonic choir in our Nation’s Capital, The Heritage Signature Chorale champions the masterworks of the European choral canon, as well as the concert and spiritual gems of the African American legacy.
READ MORE ABOUT THE SPECIAL CONCERT: “Stanley J. Thurston and The Heritage Signature Chorale in concert at First Congregational Church”
A VOCAL GEM
#10 The legendary soprano Leona Mitchell appeared in recital at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Making a rare recital appearance as a part of the David M. Smith Memorial Gala, Mitchell gave the audience a glimpse into her artistry that has captivated audiences around the world.
READ THE RECITAL REVIEW: Soprano Leona Mitchell Delivers in David W. Smith Gala
*OF SPECIAL MENTION
The National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc. celebrated its Centennial Convention in Chicago, IL. Musicians descended upon the city to celebrate the milestone occasion. The conference was held at the Palmer House Hotel. Anne-Marie Hudley Simmons was elected National President of the venerable organization and Edwin Jhamal Davis was named the 2019 National Vocal Competition Winner. Highlights included a voice masterclass led by world renowned tenor George Shirley and a conducting masterclass led by Dr. Robert Harris of Northwestern University.
A native of Petersburg, VA, Patrick holds a BM in Vocal Performance from Virginia State University and a MM in Church Music from Shenandoah Conservatory. Formerly the Performing Arts Columnist for Washington Life Magazine, he currently is a freelance writer, publishing articles for several noted publications, including The Washington Post, Early Music America Classical Music Voice North America, The Afro-American Newspaper, CBS Washington and Examiner.com. He is a member of the Music Critics Association of North America, National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc., The American Choral Directors’ Association, a member of the Shenandoah University Alumni Board of Directors and a Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He serves as Organist/Choirmaster at Saint John’s Episcopal Church, Zion Parish in Beltsville, MD. Visit http://www.patrickdmccoy.com