With an ensemble of musicians, flautist Ceylon Mitchell ushered in the spirit of National Hispanic Heritage Month with an engaging program.

by Patrick D. McCoy


Flautist Ceylon Mitchell and cellist Johnny Walker, Jr.

When most people think of Latin or African inspired music, chamber music may be the least genre that one would first consider.  Last night at the Bowie Center for Performing Arts that notion was put to rest by presenting an exceptional program that featured chamber music from the Afro-Latino canon.  The program featured works in a variety of instrumental combinations:  flute and guitar, cello and guitar and then joined altogether with percussion.  This concert marked the first in a series of concerts mounted by flautist Ceylon Mitchell celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month.  Joining him in the program was pianist Elizabeth Hill, guitarist Tom Rohde, Lucas Ashby, percussionist, Johnny Walker, Jr., cellist and Pablo Regis, on cavaquinho (a small guitar of Brazilian origin).

The opening piece “Dinga y Mandinga” began with a flute solo that gently welcomed the entrances of the guitar and cello.  There was a feeling of pizzicati or plucked strings in the nuanced playing by cellist Johnny Walker, Jr., while guitarist Tom Rohde provided the rhythmic element as he alternated between strumming and playing chords as arppegios. It was also remarkable how Walker brought forth a unique effect from the cello as he mirrored a sort of ethereal sound from the different approach he used at the instrument.   As the program progressed, the listener was able to hear the repertoire build and explore the combinations of instruments.

Of special interest was the “Gran Danzón”  in which not only Mitchell shined as flute soloist, but also pianist Elizabeth Hill as her part in the ensemble highlighted the virtuosity of her playing.  With the agility of the flute, partnered with the solid piano accompaniment, the work was truly a tour de force, brought home with the well-accented percussion of Lucas Ashby.  A charming gem on the program was “Assobio a Jato” by Hector Villa-Lobos.  As the melody of the flute danced around lovely legato lines of {Johnny} Walker’s cello,  there was whimsical feeling that was captured.

With a variety of works representing the Afro-Latino musical experience, the program closed with a rousing set of four Brazilian Choros performed by the full ensemble. A driving rhythm and bright sounds resounding from the full ensemble sealed the night with a spirit of festivity.

It was a delightful evening that introduced the audience to perhaps a new aspect of the chamber music repertoire.



You have several opportunities to catch the entire program:


featuring flautist Ceylon Mitchell

Saturday, September 21-Prince George’s Community College

Sunday, September 22, 4 p.m.-Springfield Christian Church,5407 Backlick Rd., Springfield, VA 22151

(Presented by The Coalition for African-Americans in the Performing Arts (CAAPA)

Sunday, October 6, 2:30 p.m.-Riversdale House Museum Chamber Music Society, 4811 Riverdale Rd. Riverdale Park, MD, 20737

Thursday, October 10, 12 p.m.-Montpelier Arts Center-9652 Muirkirk Rd., Laurel, MD 20708

Sunday, October 13, 4 p.m-Joe’s Movement Emporium, 3309 Bunker Hill Rd., Mount Ranier, MD 20712




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







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