Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was a man who defied the conventions of society and rose to prominence around the turn of the 20th century.
After 100 years of her untimely death at the age of 37, music teachers and students from the Moores Symphony Orchestra and Concert Chorale and the Prairie View A&M University’s Choral Concert Friday and Saturday night at the Moores Opera House to pay tribute to his music.
John Snyder, professor of music theory at the Moores School of Music and chair of this weekend’s festivities, summed up the composer’s legacy in a preview lecture Friday night.
“A little-known name in English music, he would surpass (Edward) Elgar – no easy feat,” Snyder said. “(Coleridge) was an icon in the African American community because he made it big – he composed, he got things published, he taught and he conducted.”
Friday’s program consisted of smaller works by Coleridge, starting with three selections from his vocal composition, “6 Sorrow Songs,” performed by Timothy Jones on bass baritone and accompanied by Katherine Ciscon on piano.
The evening ended with excerpts from a piano composition, “24 Negro Melodies”, by pianist Nancy Weems.
Saturday’s performance by the Moores Symphony Orchestra consisted of the “Ballad in A Minor, Op. 33 ”and“ Concerto in G minor for violin and orchestra, op. 80. “
Members of the orchestra had nothing but praise for his music.
“It’s the first time I’ve heard his music, and it’s a nice mix of classic composing styles. Much of it is fast-paced, really energetic, and a lot of its melodies and harmonies are warm and pleasant, ”said Leah Cables, percussionist and graduate student in performance.
“Whether it’s major or minor, it’s beautiful music. It’s a nice mix of pretty classical music with an exciting twist.
Coleridge emerged during a musical transition at the end of the Romantic period that began in the 1810s and ended shortly after his death in 1912, just before neoclassicism emerged between the two world wars .
“He had a lot of influence from (Czech composer Antonín) Dvorak, who at the time was trying to get away from (Johannes) Brahms, which is a bit esoteric in terms of music,” said the vocal performance junior. Alyssa Weathersby.
“He was another flavor of the English composer. He chose a very American subject with “Hiawatha”, which debuted at the Royal Music Academy. “
Coleridge’s opus, “Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast, op. 30, No. 1, ”the event’s finale, is based on song XI of William Wordsworth Longfellow’s poem,“ Song of Hiawatha, ”composed for tenor solo, choir and orchestra.
Perhaps the reason his name faded from the annals of time was related to the world war that broke out two years later or the sweeping changes in music that would see the rise of modernism rival the revival of classicism. between the two world wars.
Whatever the reason, he was not forgotten this weekend at the Moores Opera House.