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A Juneteenth Tribute on Classical Tulsa

Every now and then, I still encounter music lovers who aren’t familiar with the vast and diverse repertoire of classical music by Black American composers.

I can’t really blame them; it’s easy to get the impression that this is a strictly European tradition from some ... less imaginative concert programs, albums, and yes, even radio shows. It can take a lot of effort to expand your own horizons – especially when your familiar favorites are so comforting.

But now more than ever, it’s crucial to get to know perspectives beyond our comfort zone. So as we celebrate Juneteenth, I’m devoting my show on Friday, June 19, 2020 entirely to the music of Black American composers. Tune in to Classical Tulsa and you’ll hear four very different takes on the African American experience, from classic works by Duke Ellington and Margaret Bonds to contemporary pieces by Wynton Marsalis and the late David N. Baker.

But four composers aren’t nearly enough, so this week and the next, I’ll be spotlighting some of my favorite albums by Black composers on my Classical Tulsa Facebook page. Some of these albums – by composers like Coleridge-Taylor PerkinsonWilliam Grant Still, and Florence Price – have already been featured on my show, while others will be heard in the coming weeks. I hope you’ll broaden your musical horizons with me, Fridays at noon on Classical 88.7 KWTU HD-1.

Musicologist and Classical Tulsa host Jason Heilman is no stranger to Tulsa’s concert audiences, having been a frequent speaker at concerts by Tulsa Camerata, Chamber Music Tulsa, and other local groups.