This seminar offers a general survey of instrumental and vocal literature written by Black composers of classical music from the late nineteenth century to the present. Primary emphasis is on the concert (art) song tradition. Students will gain an understanding of the unique musical, sociological, and literary contexts that led to the development of this hybrid body of music. Works will be considered within the broader scope of American classical literature. Class lectures will be supplemented with recordings, demonstrations, and discussion. Reading and listening assignments will be given regularly, with short papers and class presentations assigned periodically. There are no prerequisites. No prior music experience is required. Enrollment is limited to twenty-two students. This seminar may be used to satisfy the Arts and Literature breadth requirement in Letters and Science.
Soprano Candace Johnson earned her doctorate in voice performance from the University of Michigan and teaches courses in voice and musicology at the University of California, Berkeley. She performs opera, recital and concert works, and specializes in the research and performance of classical works by African-American composers. She is a soloist on the CD recording The New Anthology of African-American Art Songs. Johnson has sung the lead roles in operas by Mozart, Menotti, and Puccini. Recent performances include guest appearances at Carnegie Hall and The Manhattan Center. In November 2012, she will premiere her own one-woman show, Birthing A Voice, at St. Peter’s Church in New York City. The show is a memoir of her personal journey as a singer and commemorates her times studying with the late, renowned Shirley Verrett.