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Tehachapi Symphony Orchestra to celebrate Black History Month

The Tehachapi Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Dr. David Newby will perform on Sunday, March 6, at Country Oaks Baptist Church beginning at 4 p.m.

The Black History Month celebration will include William Grant Still’s Sahdji featuring the Tehachapi Symphonic Chorus, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s The Bamboula, and Wynton Marsalis’s Concerto in D featuring violinist Lorenz Gamma.

The Tehachapi Symphonic Chorus is featured with the symphony in William Grant Still’s Sahdji.

William Grant Still Jr. was born in Mississippi in 1895. At age 15, Still began violin lessons and taught himself to play several wind and string instruments. At age 16, he graduated from high school as class valedictorian. He went to Wilberforce University, then began studying at Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio. He studied composition with George Andrews, Edgard Varese and George Whitefield Chadwick. Sahdji was started in June 1930 for ballet, chorus, and bass soloist.

“The story is of Sahdji, favorite wife of Konombju, chieftain of the tribe, who betrays the chief through infatuation for his nephew and heir, Mrabo. The chorus, in addition to being used in the customary manner, is used in a sort of percussive way,” writes William Grant Still Jr.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was born in London in 1875 to an English woman and a Krio man from Sierra Leone. He began violin lessons at a young age and then at 15, studied at the Royal College of Music. He studied composition with Charles Villiers Stanford. After graduation, he became a professor at the Crystal Palace School of Music and conducted the orchestra at the Croydon Conservatoire. On his first tour to the U.S., Coleridge-Taylor was received at the White House by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1904. Coleridge-Taylor began to explore his own Creole and African heritage. The Bamboula, Rhapsodic Dance for orchestra from 1910 is based on the popular Haitian dance of the 18th century that eventually spread to New Orleans and was famous in the 19th century. Bamboula, commissioned for Mr. and Mrs. Stoeckel, founders of the Norfolk Music Festival in Connecticut, is described as bouncy, tuneful and witty.

Wynton Marsalis was born in New Orleans in 1961 and by age 14 was performing with the New Orleans Philharmonic. In 1979, he began attending Julliard. Since then, he has toured with his own band, performed with leading orchestras, won nine Grammys and became the first jazz musician to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music. He has composed jazz, Bebop, four symphonies and the Violin Concerto in D. The piece premiered in 2015 with the London Symphony Orchestra. The concerto is in four movements, “Rhapsody,” “Rhondo,” “Blues” and “Hootenanny” with each movement revealing a different aspect of a dream.

Lorenz Gamma will be the featured violinist for the Violin Concerto in D.

“Lorenz Gamma teaches violin full-time at California State University Northridge after having previously taught at UCLA, Indiana University and at CalArts. He is internationally active as a soloist, recitalist, chamber musician and teacher, and gives frequent master classes in the United States, Europe and Asia.

As former co-leader of the Amar Quartet in Switzerland, Mr. Gamma performed a full-time concert schedule touring through many of Europe’s most important chamber music venues. For ten years, Lorenz Gamma served as first violinist of the Los Angeles based group Southwest Chamber Music. The ensemble’s recordings of the complete chamber music works of Carlos Chavez have been nominated for six Grammy Awards, winning two in 2004 and 2005. Mr. Gamma also served as concertmaster of the Northwest Sinfonietta in Seattle, and later as Principal of the Zurich Opera Orchestra. As a soloist Lorenz Gamma has performed over twenty different concertos. He holds an extensive record of appearances on radio, both in Europe and in the United States. He has collaborated with many chamber musicians and numerous composers.

Lorenz Gamma is the Artistic Director of the Borromeo Music Festival in Switzerland where he was born and received his initial training as a violinist at the conservatory in Lucerne. His further studies took place in the United States, with Franco Gulli, Steven Staryk and Mark Kaplan,” Taken in part from http://www.csun.edu.

Audience members may meet directors, soloists and musicians following the concert. All Tehachapi Symphony Orchestra concerts are FREE to the community. For more information, see http://www.tehachapiorchestra.com or call (661) 821-7511. Country Oaks Baptist Church is located at 20915 Schout Rd.

Please wear a mask to enjoy the concert in person at 4 p.m. or live-streamed on Facebook.