Dark Fires Vol. 2

The significance of this four volume recording project is its celebration of twentieth century compositions for piano and some chamber works written by Americans of African descent that have either never been recorded or have had limited recording performance. Dr. Karen Walwyn first began her research on those 20th century composers who are citizens of the United States of America with African heritage, when she became increasingly aware of the absence of the compositions of these Americans in the standard classical solo piano and chamber repertoire. Despite the significant number of important piano works by the composers, their compositions have rarely been programmed or studied in academic and non-academic arenas. Institutions of higher and secondary education concentrate mostly on the idioms of Jazz, soul, and Gospel. The contributions of the American composer of African descent to classical music is rarely addressed, and as a result, their music remains virtually unknown. Of the estimated 300 American composers of African descent listed in Readings in Black American Music: A Biographical Dictionary, few are known by most musicians, and little of their music is heard in concerts or on radio today.

This four volume series of music by American composers of African descent contributes to the unveiling of a cultural legacy. This presentation includes a unique historical content and a variety of styles both quoted and extracted from the various traditional idioms of the composers' heritage. The selected works offered are representative of 20th century styles and compositional techniques such as serialism and the tone row; atonality and polytonality; polymetric, multimetric and asymmetrical writing; the integration of Cuban and African rhythms; and the classical structure embracing the vocabulary of Jazz, Blues, Gospel, and Spirituals variously used by such composers as Ellis Marsalis, Adolphus Hailstork, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, David Baker, Tanion León, Jeffrey Mumford, George Walker, Alvin Singleton and others. Individually, each of the works is musically intriguing and pianistically demanding. The display of the breadth of artistic styles in these American compositions lends to the necessary integration of this music into the standard classical repertoire and helps facilitate familiarity with this music independent of color, race, or gender.


Karen Walwyn, born in Queens, New York, started piano at the age of four. Her father, Claude Walwyn, her first piano teacher, and her mother, Dorothy Tyler, musically inclined as well, were both very encouraging and influential in her musical development.

Ms. Walwyn received her Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Piano performance from the University of Michigan, and both her Master of Music and Bachelor of Music degrees from the University of Miami (Florida). Her most influential piano teachers have been Ms. Rosalie Gregory, Ms. Susan Starr, Dr. J.B. Floyd, and Dr. Arthur Greene.

Winner of several competitions, Ms. Walwyn has performed extensively as a recitalist on many prestigious stages throughout the United States including Merkin Hall; Gusman Hall; The Cleveland Museum of Art; Orvis Hall; and The Auyer Hall. She has also toured in France, Austria, and Spain. Ms. Walwyn has performed for several radio programs including a performance for National Public Radio.

Having previously taught as an instructor of piano at Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield, Missouri, and at the Conservatorio Privado de Tenerife, Spain, she currently is on the faculty at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, as she anticipates a busy year of numerous national and international solo and duet performances with her husband, Rodney Mack (trumpet).


Ellis Marsalis is regarded by many as the premier modern jazz pianist in New Orleans. Mr. Marsalis graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Education from Dillard University, New Orleans. After a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps, Mr. Marsalis returned to New Orleans and married New Orleanina Dolores Ferdinand, who bore him six sons: Branford; Wynton; Ellis III; Delfeayo; Mboya; and Jason. Ellis Marsalis has become New Orleans' leading jazz educator.

Mr. Marsalis has performed with such instrumentalists and vocalists as Marcus Roberts, George Shearing, Tony Bennett, Harold Battiste, Betty Shirley, Germaine Bazzle, and his sons, Branford Marsalis, Jason Marsalis and Wynton Marsalis.

Mr. Marsalis has made numerous and some repeated appearances on television's The Today Show with Bryant Gumbel, the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and Jay Leno, The Good Morning America Show and The Arsenio Hall Show. Other national and international appearances include: Chicago Sinfonietta at Symphony Hall in Chicago with Paul Freeman, conductor; Bern International Jazz Festival, Switzerland; The Vogue Theater in Vancouver, Canada; Lincoln Center Jazz, New York; and The Montmatre Jazz Club in Copenhagen, Denmark. Performances in other countries were Japan, England, Mexico, and Austria.

In 1986, Marsalis accepted a position at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia as Coordinator of Jazz Studies. Currently he is Director of the Jazz Studies Division at the University of New Orleans.

His music has been recorded on labels such as CBS-Sony, ELM, Spindletop, Columbia-Sony, Nebula, RCA, Justice Records, King Record Co., and Atlantic Jazz, and has had three video projects produced with Yo Yo Ma, Harry Connick, Jr., and Wynton Marsalis.

Fourth Autumn

“I was approached by a friend and visual artist, Emory Clark, who wanted to get her husband a special gift for his birthday. Well, it took me longer than I expected to compose the piece so it eventually was presented to her on their fourth anniversary - (hence Fourth Autumn). The work was premiered by pianist David Ed Lisle, who is on the piano faculty at Xavier University, New Orleans, Louisiana.”

The composer's words: “What influenced me was the great jazz pianists of the past, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Hank Jones, Phineas Newborn, Wynton Kelly and many other great and near greats. However, I continue to be inspired by the younger greats like Mulgrew Miller, Kenny Kirkland, Damilo Perez, Eric Reed and many other future greats. When one listens to the young players of today, it is obvious that the line between pianists, classical and jazz is being blurred. Many are comfortable in both genres and that is a positive sign of things to come.”


David Nathaniel Baker, Jr., born 1931, is a native of Indianapolis, Indiana and currently holds the position of Distinguished Professor of Music and Chairman of the Jazz Department at the Indiana University School of Music in Bloomington, Indiana. A virtuosic performer on multiple instruments and top in his field in several disciplines, Mr. Baker has taught and performed throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Scandinavia, New Zealand and Japan. He is also the conductor and musical director of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra.

Mr. Baker received both his bachelor's and master's degrees in music education from Indiana University and has studied with a wide range of master teachers, performers and composers including J.J. Johnson, Bobby Brookmeyer, Janos Starker, George Russell, William Russo, Bernard Heiden, and Gunther Schuller, among others. A 1973 Pulitzer Prize nominee, Mr. Baker was nominated for a Grammy Award (1979), honored three times by Down Beat Magazine (as a trombonist, for lifetime achievement, and most recently (1994) as the third inductee to their Jazz Education Hall of Fame). He has received the National Association of Jazz Education Hall of Fame Award (1981), President's Award for Distinguished Teaching (1986) from Indiana University, the Arts Midwest Jazz Masters Award (1990), and the Governor's Arts Award of the State of Indiana (1991).

Mr. Baker has been commissioned by more than 500 individuals and ensembles, and his compositions tally over 2,000 in number, ranging from jazz and sonatas to film scores. He has more than 65 recordings, 70 books, and 400 articles to his credit.

Sonata I for Piano

Sonata I for Piano was written in 1982 for the late Natalie Hinderas who, for a variety of reasons, was unfortunately never able to perform it before her untimely death. Despite the extreme physical and musical demands of this composition, it has had a number of successful performances over the years, among them those by Virginia Eskin and Carole Stone.

The sonata has three movements. Movement I, “Black Art,” is abstract and virtuosic in its demands. Movement II, “A Song-After Paul Lawrence Dunbar” is slow and tuneful. The principal theme was conceived with the words of Mr. Dunbar's lovely poem entitled “A Song” in mind. Movement III, “Coltrane,” was conceptualized and written on a train between Indianapolis and Atlanta, Georgia. It is a pianist tour-de-force, energetic and demanding. The development section is based loosely on John Coltrane's improvisation on his composition “Blue Trane.”

Mr. Baker's words: “Karen Walwyn is a brilliant and exciting pianist who is fearless in her decision to play contemporary music, particularly that of composers of color. I have been most impressed with the intelligence and imagination she brings to all the music she performs. She studies each piece until she knows and understands beyond any questions the wishes and intentions of the composer. I believe she is one of today's finest pianist, and I am grateful that she has chosen to record my piano sonata.”


Alvin singleton has composed works for the theater, orchestral pieces, instrumental solos, choral pieces and a wide range of works for chamber ensembles. He received degrees from New York University and Yale University, and he studied as a Fulbright Scholar with Goffredo Petrassi at the Accademia Nationale de Santa Cecilia in Rome. After working for more than a decade in Europe, Singleton became Composer-in-Residence with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (1985-88), served as Resident Composer at Spelman College in Atlanta (1988-91), and was the 1996-97 Unisys Composer-in-Residence with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He has been awarded the Kranischsteiner Musikpreis by the City of Darmstadt, Germany, and twice the Musikprotokoll Kompositionpreis by the Austrian Radio, the Mayor's Fellowship in the Arts Award by the City of Atlanta, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. His compositions have been performed both nationally and internationally by the symphony orchestras of Boston, Pittsburgh, Houston, Atlanta, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Detroit, Oregon, Cincinnati, Baltimore, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, l'Orchestre de Paris, das Gürzenich-Orchester Kölner Philharmoniker, and the London Sinfonietta. Singleton will spend Spring Semester 2000 as Composer-in-Residence at the Yale University School of Music.

In Our Own House

Mr. Singleton's words: “In our Own House (1998) for soprano saxophone, trumpet, snare drum and piano was commissioned by Karen Walwyn for this recording. The work creates an opportunity for old friends and relatives to make music together.”


Adolphus Hailstork received his doctorate in composition from Michigan State University, and had previously studied at Manhattan School of Music under Vittorio Giannini and David Diamond, at the American Institute at Fountainebleau with Nadia Boulanger, and at Howard University with Mark Fax.

Dr. Hailstork has written numerous works for chorus, solo voice, various chamber ensembles, band, and orchestra. Among his composition are: Celebration (recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra); Out of the Depths, (1977 Belwin-Mills Max Winkler Award); American Guernica; Mourn Not The Dead (1971 Ernest Bloch Award) and Consort Piece (First Prize by the University of Delaware Festival of Contemporary Music).

Hailstork's largest choral works are the triptych Songs of Isaiah, the oratorio Done Made My Vow, and the cantata I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes.

In 1990 a consortium of five orchestras commissioned a piano concerto which was premiered by Leon Bates in 1992. In addition, Dr. Hailstork was commissioned by the Barlow Endowment for Music to write Festival Music for the Baltimore Symphony. Other performances were by the Philadelphia, Chicago and New York symphonies with James de Priest, Daniel Barenboim and Kurt Masur. In 1999, the composer's second symphony, (commissioned by the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and the Kansas City Lyric Opera) were premiered.

The Sonata for Trumpet and Piano

The Sonata for Trumpet and Piano was written in 1996 for the husband and wife team of Rodney Mack, trumpet and Karen Walwyn, piano. To encourage more performances, I transcribed it for trumpet with string quartet, and trumpet with string orchestra. Then I substituted a clarinet part for the trumpet part in all three versions.

The first movement is in sonata form. The thematic material and the rhythms are influenced by blues and jazz. The snappy beginning is followed by a muted theme two. the development begins with repeated dark chords in the piano, and gradually builds up to a climax before theme one returns. A descending series of arpeggios in the trumpet bring the movement to a bitonal ending.

The second movement begins with a quiet figuration in the piano, which repeats freely, under short statements in the trumpet. These mournful fragments are notated to allow the soloist to vary the number of times they are repeated. Gradually the piece unfolds in a through-composed song. The middle section begins with clusters in the piano and builds to a climax with the introduction of sixteenth notes. The tranquility of the opening returns, and brings the movement to a quiet close.

The third movement is in sonata form. Theme one is a high energy idea based on asymmetrical meters (ex. 7/8 and 11/8), and a couple of motives from Puccini operas. Theme two is a slower treatment of the piano idea that opened the movement. The development tosses all the material around vigorously. After a short, quiet return of theme tow, the coda begins. This includes a cadenza, and a final dash to the end.


Composer-Conductor, Mr. Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, B.M. and M.M. in composition, attended the Berkshire Music Center, the Mozarteum, and The International Conductor's Course. Influential teachers were Vittorio Giannini, Charles Mills, and Earl Kim.

He has served as composer-in-residence for the Negro Ensemble Company and has written several scores for their productions including “Song of the Lusitanian Bogey” - Peter Weiss - its initial presentation, as well as having served as co-founder and associate conductor of The Symphony of the New World from 1965-1970. He championed and conducted several chamber concerts of new music in New York including the first New York performance of Stravinsky's Cantata.

Mr. Perkinson has composed and conducted scores for numerous award-winning theatrical, television and documentary films such as: Montgomery to Memphis; Bearden on Bearden; A Woman Called Moses; and A Warm December. Some motion picture scores were composed and conducted by Mr. Perkinson for such films as Together for Days, Amazing Grace, The Education of Sonny Carson, and Freedom Road.

Some ballet and theater include his Berber; To Bird with Love; Mercy; Lena Horne: The Lady and her Music; and The Emperor Jones.

Mr. Perkinson's work with recordings include the collaboration with such artists as Max Roach, Donald Byrd, Barbara McNair, Melvin Van Peebles, Harry Belafonte, Marvin Gaye, and Jimmy Owens. Most recent commissions of Mr. Perkinson's include Vienna Modern Masters, Manchester Music Festival for Manchester Chamber Orchestra, and Harold Jones.

“Statements” Sonata for Piano

The Sonata for Piano in three movements employs as its structural basis three classic forms, Sonata Allegro, Theme and Variations, rondo. For its thematic and motivic material a series of twelve notes (tone row) and a paraphrase of folk melody are utilized. the work, while nonprogrammatic, is a reflection and synthesis of styles as well as ideas, all of which have contributed to the musical growth and heritage to be found in our culture.

The first movement by definition, a Sonata Allegro form has some basic differences conceptually: i.e., it employs one theme as opposed to two, and because of the ordering of the materials, has a compulsory repetition of the development section. The musical fabric itself dictates this type of formal logic in much the same way as it makes mandatory the exclusion of the multiple permutations of the tone row as a further unifying factor. Consequently, the sum total of statement and development of motivic ideas is limited to the basic original, inversion, retrograde, and retrograde inversion forms of the twelve note series. After the development section and an abbreviated return of the main theme there is a short coda which leads without pause to the second movement.

Theme and Variations (Second Movement) - The theme of this movement is based a paraphrase of the folk tune “Another Man Don' Gone.” The variations are structured by either the melodic and harmonic implications of the folk tune or related (transposed) permutations of the original tone row. Some variations employ both. There are eight variations.

Third Movement - Rondo: The last movement begins with a fughetta, has a second theme that is derivative of the main idea of the first movement, and a third theme which is a restatement of the folk tune from the second movement. It ends with a coda summarizing all of these materials.

With few exceptions, the main fabric of the composition is linear, and despite the use of serial techniques and their applications, there is (without strict harmonic implications) a tonal center of D. The organization of the tone row for this composition is: D, C#, E Ab, G F#, F, Eb, B, C, Bb, A.

RODNEY MACK, trumpet

Rodney Mack, currently the principal trumpet of the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona I Nacional de Catalunya (Barcelona Symphony Orchestra), is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. His first influential teacher was his cousin, Wynton Marsalis. He made his solo debut with the New Orleans Symphony at the age of 16 and won his first orchestral position with the same ensemble at the age of 19. Later that year, Mr. Mack appeared as a guest soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra, John Williams, conducting. He was also a 1989 Fellowship Winner at the Tanglewood Music Center, with a return visit in 1990. that year he received the Seiji Ozawa Award for Outstanding Musician.

Mr. Mack attended the Curtis Institute of Music, under the tutelage of Mr. Frank Kaderabek, where he received his Bachelor of Music Degree. He also studied with Charles Schleuter at the New England Conservatory of Music and with Roger Voisin at the Boston University School of Music.

Mr. Mack has performed as a soloist with the San Diego Symphony, the Orquesta Sinfònica de Tenerife, the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona, and various chamber ensembles throughout the United States and Europe.

Rodney Mack made his solo recording debut with Koch International Classics performing the world premier recording of the Carmen Fantasy for Trumpet and Orchestra with Lawrence Foster conducting the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona I Nacional de Catalunya.

I would like to acknowledge my deepest appreciation to the following for their guidance, special work, and dedication towards this project: Professor Willis C. Patterson, Susan Bush, Faye Burton, David Lau, and Dr. Lester Monts. I would like to give special thanks to the following for their musical contribution: Branford Marsalis, Jason Marsalis, Alvin Singeton, Adolphus Hailstork, and for their leadership and active support of this cd project: Ellis Marsalis, Roger Dickerson, Rev. Dwight Webster, Dolores White, and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson.

I would like to thank the following for their strong support and help towards the making of the cd project: Rodney Mack, Dorothy Tyler, Kimberly Haynes, Gwen Patrick, and Claude Walwyn.

Producer: Karen Walwyn

Recording Engineers: David Lau. Gary Supplee

Editing and Mastering: David Lau, The Brookwood Studio, Inc., Ann Arbor, Michigan



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