Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dett finds the roots of an American classical style

On Wednesday, the Boston Landmarks Orchestra resurrects R. Nathaniel Dett’s compact but ambitiously innovative 1919 oratorio “The Chariot Jubilee.” Born in Ontario in 1882, Dett accomplished much. He was Oberlin College’s first African-American music graduate. He led the music department at Virginia’s Hampton Institute for nearly 20 years. While on a Harvard sabbatical — during which “The Chariot Jubilee” was premiered, by the Boston Cecilia — his influential four-part essay on “Negro Music” won the university’s Bowdoin Prize. He was the model of a serious, early-20th-century African-American musician. More