African Heritage Symphonic Series, Vol. III


African Heritage Symphonic Series, Vol. III

Michael Abels (b. 1962):

  1. Global Warming (1990) (8:18)

David Baker (b. 1931):

Cello Concerto (1975) (19:56)

  1. I. Fast (6:22)

  2. II. Slow a la recitative (7:17)

  3. III. Fast (6:09)

Katinka Kleijn, cello soloist

William Banfield (b. 1961):

  1. Essay for Orchestra (1994) (10:33)

Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (b. 1932):

Generations - Sinfonietta No. 2 for Strings (19196) (19:31)

  1. I. Misterioso - allegro (6:13)

  2. II. Alla sarabande (5:35)

  3. III. Alla Burletta (2:04)

  4. IV. Allegro vivace (5:28)

Chicago Sinfonietta/Paul Freeman, conductor

Total Playing Time: (58:45)

Program Notes by Dominique-Rene de Lerma

The quartet of composers represented here have a particular distinction in common: Each displays remarkable stylistic versatility, working not just in concert idioms, but also in film music, gospel music, and jazz.

Michael Abels was born in 1962 in Phoenix, Arizona, where he also attended grammar school. He spent his youngest years, however, in rural South Dakota and began studying piano there at an early age. A graduate of the University of Southern California, he studied composition with James Hopkins and Robert Linn and was named Outstanding Senior among student composers for his “Queries” for piano and prepared piano. In 1985-86, Abels studied West African music and Alfred Ladzekpo at the California Institute for the Arts. Abels remains a resident of Los Angeles.

Abels wrote Global Warming in 1990, not long after the Berlin Wall fell. It attracted international attention when it was featured at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's 1992 African-American Symphony Composers Forum and has enjoyed more that 100 performances since its debut. Most notably, Global Warming became the first piece by a Black composer to enter the repertory of the National Symphony of South Africa.

Abels has stated that “living in Los Angeles, I've been able to learn about music from around the world simply by opening the window; among my neighbors are immigrants from every corner of the world. I was intrigued by the similarities between folk music of divergent cultures, and decided to write a piece that celebrates these common threads as well as the sudden improvement in international relations that was occurring.” The title Global Warming seemed suitable for the incorporation of these ideas. It was commissioned by the Phoenix Symphony Guild and first performed by the Phoenix Youth Symphony in 1991, with conductor Mark Russell Smith. Abels describes the work as follows:

The opening section of the piece is a vision of the traditional idea of global warming - a vast desert, the relentless heat punctuated by the buzzing of cicadas, and an anguished, frenetic solo violin (with help from a solo cello). This scene gives way to several episodes reminiscent of folk music of various cultures, most noticeably Irish and Middle Eastern. At the climax of the piece, a Middle Eastern melody is transformed, through gradual changes in rhythm and ornamentation, back into the Irish refrain, and many counter-melodies join in to present a noisy - yet harmonious - world village.

This Joyous moment is broken by a sudden return to the stark vision of the opening, leaving the listener to decide which image may more accurately reflect our future.


Among Abels's other works is Tribute (2001), a short orchestral memorial to the events of September 11. He has also written works for chorus, two operas, and other compositions for orchestra, many created on commission. His output manifests san interest in sports (he is a tri-athlete) and his dedication to outreach projects, with particular concern for social welfare and for young people. Abels ascribes to the philosophy of many contemporary artists of color who see international implications inherent in their ethnic heritage.

Born in Indianapolis in 1931, David Baker spent the first part of his remarkable career as a jazz musician. Baker's undergraduate and graduate studies were at Indiana University, where he is now a Distinguished Professor and chair of the jazz department. His original intention to become an orchestral trombonist was short lived - orchestral work was more or less out of reach for African Americans at the time - so Baker entered the jazz world. He enjoyed rapid success, performing and recording in the U.S. and Europe with several jazz legends including Quincy Jones, George Russell, Maynard Ferguson, and Lionel Hampton. An accident put an end to Baker's trombone playing in 1962. He began studying the cello, first with Leopold Terapulsky and later with Janos Starker. In 1966, he joined the faculty at Indiana and began training a new generation of jazz musicians.

In 1968, Baker's interest in liturgical jazz produced a blockbuster: a massive memorial to Martin Luther King Jr., in which an orchestra of cellos appears amid several other ensembles. Over the next two years he wrote a violin concerto (for Josef Gingold) and a flute concerto (for James Pellerite), both featuring Jazz band accompaniment. Baker described his next concerto, completed in 1975 and dedicated to his cellist colleague, Starker, as follows:

The first movement is lyrical in nature, featuring the cello

In a somewhat transparent environment, ending in a with

Harmonics. The second movement opens with an extended

solo cello recitative in which all of the principal thematic

material of this movement is presented. The first theme is reminiscent of the material from the first movement; and special effects, including glissandi in the upper strings and the use of exotic percussion, create an impressionistic atmosphere. The third movement is jazz-influenced. The first theme uses the harmonic

progression from Back Home Again in Indiana and is introduced

over a series of rhythmic interjections. The second theme is a clever and charming twelve-tone row conceived by Starker and

incorporated into this movement over a rhythmic bass line.

There is one particularly remarkable feature about the instrumentation of Baker's Cello Concerto: the orchestra itself contains no cellos.

Since 1975, Baker has written several more works for Starker, including Ode to Starker, for an orchestra of cellos, unveiled at a surprise birthday gala for the cellist in 1999.

Baker's talent and hard work have won him endless awards (including the Jazz Education Hall of Fame award, the National Endowment for the Arts American Jazz Masters Award, and nominations for both the Pulitzer Prize and the Grammy Awards), commissions (including from the New York Philharmonic, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Beaux Arts Trio, and the Fisk Jubilee Singers), and appointments (including to the National Council on the Arts, as Senior Music Consultant for the Smithsonian Institution, and to panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and for the Kennedy Center). He continues to write jazz compositions regularly, and also remains a prolific publisher of scholarly essays on jazz greats and manuals for jazz students.

Born in 1961, William C. Banfield secured his initial education in his hometown of Detroit, where he graduated from Cass Technical High School in 1979. Banfield began learning guitar at the age of eight eventually winning a grant from the Chrysler Corporation, which he used for study in Acapulco. He majored in guitar at the New England Conservatory of Music, earning his B.M. degree in 1983. In his final undergraduate year, Banfield studied composition with T. J. Anderson at Tufts university, and with Michael Gibbs at the New England Conservatory. From 1985 to 1987, Banfield continued his composition studies with Theodore Antoniou at Boston University, while obtaining his M.A. degree in theological studies. From 1988 to 1992, Banfield pursued his D.M.A. degree at the University of Michigan, where he worked with composers William Albright, Leslie Bassett, Fred Lerdahl, and William Bolcom.

During his student years, Banfield maintained an intense schedule as a performer and conductor of various ensembles in Boston, Detroit, and Senegal, and also taught. From 1992 to 1997, he served on the faculty of Indiana University and also held visiting residencies at the University of St. Augustine College, Duke University, and the University of Texas, Austin. Leaving Indiana University in 1997, Banfield accepted the endowed chair in Humanities and Fine Arts at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he currently serves as Associate Professor of Music and director of American Cultural Studies. In 2000-2001, he was a W.E.B. Dubois fellow at Harvard University, completing two operas. In 2002, Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison invited Banfield to Princeton University as a visiting Atelier artist.

Banfield's impressive list of symphonic commissions began with one of the Detroit Metropolitan Orchestra in 1983. Since then he has had works commissioned and performed by the Washington D.C. National Symphony and the symphonic orchestras of Detroit, Dallas, San Diego, Sacramento, Savannah, Grand Rapids, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Richmond, and Minnesota. His catalog contains works for various instrumental ensembles, orchestra, and band, as well as choral music, operas, and songs. He has also penned numerous popular songs and jazz compositions. Guthrie Ramsey's entry on Banfield in the International Dictionary of Black Composers encapsulates the composer's aesthetic: Banfield “believes that the juxtaposition of the many styles that comprise the popular music scene today has prepared younger audiences for similar developments in art music.” (Ramsey, Guthrie R, Jr., “Banfield, William Cedric,” in International Dictionary of Black Composers, Volume 1, Samuel A. Floyd, Jr., ed Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1999., pp 66-74.)

About his piece on this CD, Banfield has written:

Essay for Orchestra is taken from a larger work for percussion and orchestra. The movement seemed so well suited as a moving orchestral essay with themes and evocative musical sweeps to be adapted for a short concert piece. It is simply that, an attempt to hear the various orchestral voices interacting. One observer called it “…a large 19 th century Romanticism infused with contemporary jazz harmonic and rhythmic sensibilities.

Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson was named for the celebrated Afro-British composer, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Befitting his name, Perkinson seemed destined for a musical career almost from the moment of his birth in New York in 1932. Perkinson's mother was a piano teacher in the Bronx who also directed a theater company and played organ for a church choir there. Perkinson studied dancing early on, working under the tutelage of Ismay Andrews and Pearl Primus; but it was his keen musical ear that gained him admission to New York's prestigious High School of Music and Art, where Perkinson met Igor Stravinsky for the first time (thanks to his mentor, choral conductor Hugh Ross). Perkinson began conducting and composing in high school. Upon graduation in 1949, he won the LaGuardia Prize in music. For the next two years, he majored in education at New York University. He changed curse in 1951, however, enrolling in the Manhattan School of Music where he earned his master's degree in composition (and later taught). His composition teachers there included Vittorio Giannini and Charles Mills. He later worked with Roger Sessions' assistant, Earl Kim, at Princeton University. Already on the faculty of Brooklyn College (1959-1962), Perkinson went to the Netherlands during the summers of 1960, 1932, and 1963, where Franco Ferrara and the African American expatriate, Dean Dixon coached his conducting. Perkinson also pursued conducting studies at the Mazarteum in Salzburg later in the summer of 1960.

In 1965, he co-founded New York's Symphony of the New World, and later became its Music Director, a title he has also held with Jerome Robbins' American Theater Lab and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. More recently, Perkinson was a guest lecturer at Indiana University, and has been Coordinator of Performance Activities at Columbia College's Center for Black Music Research since 1998.

The performances of Dizzy Gillespie and Max Roach, and Perkisnon's own contacts with fellow Manhattan School of Music students Max Roach, Julius Watkins, Herbie Mann, and Donald Bird, led Perkinson to make a detailed study of the music of the highly influential jazz great Charlie “Bird” Parker. The most palpable result of this interest was Perkinson's ballet For Bird, With Love, composed for Alvin Ailey's dance group.

Perkinson's compositions range from unaccompanied solo instruments to works for chorus and orchestra. He has also worked as a composer, arranger, and supervisor of recordings by many pop figures, including Marvin Gaye. He has served as a panelist on campuses throughout Europe and America, and has been conductor and/or featured composer with numerous orchestras. Most recently, his Symphony of the Sphinx, with a text by Nikki Giovanni, was commissioned by Michigan's Texaco-Sphinx Competition (2002). He has also composed and conducted music for several films, including the Martin Luther King documentary Montgomery to Memphis, and A Warm December, Sidney Poitier. Perkinson wrote Generations: Sinfonietta No2 for Strings in 1996 on a commission by Michael Rudiakov and the Manchester Music Festival. The score bears the following words by the composer:

The inspiration for this composition, though non-programmatic, is somewhat autobiographical in that it represents my attempts at what were and are my relationships to members of my family - past and present. While each of the movements is without a strict “formal” mode, an informal analysis of their structures is as follows:

  1. Misterioso and Allegro (to my daughter) is based on two motifs: the B-A-C-H idea (in German these letters represent the pitches B-flat, A-natural, C-natural, and B-natural), and the American folk tune “Mockingbird,” also known as “Hush Li'l Baby, Don't Say a Word.”

  1. Alla sarabande (sarabande, a 17 th and 18 th century dance in slow triple meter) is dedicated to the matriarchs of my immediate family (of which there were for me, three), each of whom contributed a unique form of guidance for life's journey.

  1. Alla Burletta (to my grandson). A burletta is an Italian term for a diminutive burlesca or burlesque-type work - a composition in a playful and jesting mood. Thematically, this movement is based on the pop tune “Li'l Brown Jug.”

  1. Allegro vivace. This movement is a loosely constructed third rondo which thematically begins with a fughetta (original melody), has a second theme (African in origin), and a third theme (“Mockingbird” paraphrased). Once again, the B-A-C-H idea from the first movement is the musical thread that ties these elements together. This movement is dedicated to the patriarchs of my family, known and unknown, past, present and future, for generations.

Lawrence University Professor of Music, Dominique-Rene de Lerma began his teaching career in 1951 in Miami and has served on the faculties of Indiana University, Morgan State University, the University of Oklahoma, The Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University, and Northwestern University. He founded the former Black Music Center at Indiana University and has served as director of the Center for Black Music Research in Chicago. His home page may be found at htt://

Publisher Information:

Michael Abels' Global Warming © 1991 Subito Music Publishing, Inc.

David Baker's Cello Concerto © 1978 G. Schirmer, Inc.

William Banfield's Essay for Orchestra © 1994 Bmagic Music

Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson's Generations © 1996 Tosci Music

About Paul Freeman:

One of America's leading conductors, Maestro Paul Freeman became the Founding Music Director of the Chicago Sinfonietta in 1987. He was appointed Music Director and chief conductor of the Czech National Symphony Orchestra in Prague in January 1996. From 1979 to 1989, Maestro Freeman served as Music of the Victoria Symphony in Canada. Prior to that post, he served as Principal Guest Conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic and as Associate Conductor of the Dallas and Detroit Symphonies. He also served for six years as Music Director of the Opera Theatre of Rochester, New York.

Maestro freeman has conducted over 100 orchestras in 28 countries, including the National Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Moscow Philharmonic, Warsaw Philharmonic, Berlin Symphony, Tonkunstler Orchestra (Vienna), National Orchestra of Mexico, and Israel Sinfonietta.

Dr. Freeman received his Ph.D. from the Eastman School of Music and studied on a U.S. Fulbright Grant at the Hochschule fur Music in Berlin. He also studied with the renowned conductor Pierre Monteux and has received numerous awards including a top prize in the Mitropoulos International Conducting Competition, and, most recently, the Mahler Award from the European Union of Arts. With over 200 recordings to his credit, Maestro Freeman has won widespread acclaim for his interpretations of classical romantic, and modern repertoire. Recently, he was awarded Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from both Dominican and Loyola Universities in Chicago. This is Dr. Freeman's ninth recording for Cedille.

About the Chicago Sinfonietta:

Now in its sixteenth season, the Chicago Sinfonietta has gained national and international recognition through its tours and recordings. A mid-sized professional orchestra, the Sinfonietta is dedicated to the authentic performance of Classical, Romantic, and contemporary repertoire as originally conceived by the composer. Under Maestro Paul Freeman, its founding music director, the Chicago Sinfonietta has achieved a reputation for high-quality and unique programming, combining the traditional with the intriguing. Woven into its programs are works by ethnic composers and soloist. Its personnel truly represents the cultural diversity of the city of Chicago, thus its motto “Excellence Through Diversity.”

The Sinfonietta's 1991 European debut at Vienna's Musikverein and Konzerthaus was called “extraordinary” by Festival Director Roland Geyer. Subsequent European performances have caused critics to rave “brilliant…beautiful sonorous sound…stunning performance…irresistible mixture of elegance and charm…and red hot.” The Sinfonietta has played in the Leipzig Gewanchaus, Kennedy Center in Washington DC, and Festival of the Canary Islands. The orchestra won especially high praise from audiences and critics during its tours of Switzerland and Germany in January 1996 and Southern California in February 1996 (a total of twenty concerts). The Frankfurter Neue Presse observed, “The Chicago Sinonietta, under Paul Freeman's baton, is an exquisite orchestra, that shines with a high degree of perfection and teamwork.”

The Chicago Sinfonietta's CDs have garnered outstanding reviews. The Sinfonietta has twice been featured on CBS-TV, and selected performances are broadcast nationwide on National Public Radio's Performance Today. In 1992, the Sinfonietta was nominated for three Emmy awards. This is the Chicago Sinfonietta's fifth recording for Cedille.

About Cellist Katinka Kleijn:

Katinka Kleijn is a native of The Netherlands. At age 16 she won the Dutch national Princess Christina Competition. Following students in Germany and the U.S. with Andy Lim, Laurence Lesser, and Lynn Harrell, Kleijn joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1995. Kleijn has appeared as a soloist with The Hague Philharmonic Orchestra, Chicago Sinfonietta, Sheboygan Symphony, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on CSO Youth Concerts. She has participated in the Marlboro and Ravinia Festivals; has collaborated with Richard Goode, Lynn Harrell, and The Chicago Chamber Musicians; and was invited to join the Kronos Quartet. Ms. Kleijn is president of the Holland-America Music Society (HAMS), an organization dedicated to the education and recognition of young artists. HAMS organizes an annual string competition for which the main prize is the use of a first-rate contemporary Dutch instrument for one year. This is Katinka Kleijn's first recording for Cedille Records. She has also appeared on a CD for Boston Records with former CSO principal flutist Donald Peck.