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Noontime Notions- Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: A New World is Coming
October 17 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Presenter Pam Blevins will showcase Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and his musical gifts.
The presentation traces the life of this remarkably gifted Afro-English composer, who was a blazing light in British music. Born in London in 1875, he was the son of an English woman and a physician from Sierra Leone. He was named for his mother’s favorite poet, Samuel Taylor-Coleridge. His musical gifts were recognized early and nurtured by his mother and grandfather, who played the violin. As a mixed-race child, he endured the taunts of white boys. But his race didn’t matter to benefactors who helped ensure his future, one that brought him international acclaim as a composer, including great popularity in America. Coleridge-Taylor studied at the Royal College of Music, London. His composition professor Sir Charles Stanford regarded him as one of his most naturally gifted students. At the age of 19, SCT composed a clarinet quintet to rival that of Brahms. At 23, he composed his cantata Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast, the first in what became a trilogy. The premiere was regarded as “one of the most remarkable events in modern English musical history.” Hiawatha became more popular in England than Handel’s Messiah that led Coleridge-Taylor to be invited to the U.S. for performances here. He developed friendships with American violinist Maud Powell for whom he composed his violin concerto, and the poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, whose poems he set to music. Coleridge-Taylor composed in all genres and was a masterful orchestrator. He was at the height of his powers when he died on September 1, 1912, just six days after his 37th birthday.
The talk will feature photographs and recordings of his music.
Brevard resident Pamela Blevins is a music historian, former journalist, public relations consultant, and fund raiser. She is a champion of women composers and 20th century British composers, and was the co-founder and managing editor of Signature: Women Music, an online magazine. She is the author of the critically acclaimed dual biography of English musicians: Ivor Gurney and Marion Scott: Song of Pain and Beauty (2008), as well as numerous articles about music and poetry for British publications. Blevins is currently working on a collection of Marion Scott’s writings. Stepping away from music, she wrote a true account of an 1860 murder in Weymouth, Massachusetts: Beyond the Hand of God: Lust, Seduction and Murder in Massachusetts (2019). She is also working on another true account of a 1936 case in Weymouth: Murder in the Birches due later this year.