Next weekend, I'll make my debut as a classical solo piano composer when the phenomenal British pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason is in residency with Portland Piano International (PPI). I was commissioned by to write a piece inspired by an existing work in the solo piano canon. I have long been inspired by Afro-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Born in 1875 to a Sierra Leone Creole father and an English mother, Coleridge-Taylor was referred to as the “African Mahler.” His celebrated oratorio Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast, based on the epic poem Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, was as popular in its day as Handel’s Messiah.
The MJ New Quartet (Marcus Shelby, Mike Horsfall, Carlton Jackson, and myself) will be headed to NYC to showcase at the annual Chamber Music America conference on Saturday, January 6.