Coleridge Taylor Perkinson 

Some would say that it’s a bit of a burden to be named after a famous figure.  However, listening to and reading about the work of Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (1932-2004) one can only think that here was a life as interesting and productive as his namesake, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. He wrote a violin concerto, a viola concerto, and a cello concerto, as well as other works for various solo instruments and orchestra, a string quartet, various instrumental sonatas, symphonic works, vocal music and ballet scores for the Dance Theatre of Harlem, and Alvin Ailey; and I guarantee that if you are “of a certain age” you will have heard some of his music in film and TV growing up. 

He met Stravinsky while in high school at New York’s High School of Music and Art, and won the La Guardia Prize for music by the time of his graduation.  While at the Manhattan School of Music, he developed an interest in jazz—no wonder as his classmates were Julius Watkins, Herbie Mann, Donald Byrd, and Max Roach (in whose quartet he later served as pianist).  He studied conducting at the Berkshire Music Center (Tanglewood) and started several orchestras as well as guest conducing all over the world.  His eclectic background equipped him well to contribute to the development of rhythm and blues from the slick pop singles of early Motown and the rawer soul of Stax/Volt Records to the more lush, fully orchestrated sounds of disco in the late 1970s. 

I’ve spent the morning listening to his music, it is quite amazing. The piece of all of these I am posting to listen today is “Blue/s Forms for solo violin (1972)” - one website calls it “a deep reverie of black experience as seen through the filter of Paganiniesque writing.” This is a version beautifully performed by Amadi on the viola.  #blackcomposers

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