The Glory of this Perfect Day:
Programming and Planning Recitals of Art Song by Black Composers
April 14, 2021
Join IlluminArts as we welcome this distinguished panel of guests to shine a spotlight on the rich repertoire of art song written by black composers. Our panelists will discuss how to best research and access the repertoire, their favorite under-performed composers, understanding considerations non-Black performers can make when learning and performing music of Black composers, and more. Our panel of accomplished singers, composers, producers and educators will share their insights and experience with all who wish to attend. We look forward to welcoming your comments and questions as well in this interactive discussion.
This event will be live streamed on YouTube and Facebook.
GRAMMY Award-Winning Baritone
Raised in Philadelphia, Kenneth Overton’s symphonious baritone voice has sent him around the globe. Kenneth is one of the most sought after Opera singers of his generation.
Kenneth's ever blossoming career has allowed him to perform with some of the most prestigious Opera Companies and Orchestral Organizations in the world, highlights include his 2017 New York Philharmonic debut, and his San Francisco Opera debut as Lawyer Frazier in Porgy and Bess and a return to the company as Sid in La Fanciulla del West. As a leading baritone, Kenneth has performed with Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre, Opera Memphis, Sacramento Opera, Nashville Opera, Connecticut Opera, Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, Boheme Opera of NJ, Houston Ebony Opera Guild, Toledo Opera, Opera Delaware, Shreveport Opera, Opera Tampa, and Opera Carolina. Kenneth has been seen as Germont in La Traviata, Michele in Il Tabarro, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Leporello in Don Giovanni, Marcello and Schaunard in La bohème, Ping in Turandot, Angelotti in Tosca, as well as Bello and Sid in La Fancuilla del West.
Pride and tradition portray the motif of Kenneth’s debut solo album Been In De Storm So Long: Songs My Fathers Taught Me, his homage to the spiritual tradition that has been formative in his artistic life. Pianist Kevin Miller and Kenneth’s collaboration embody the historic Spirituals from our past and contemporary art songs by African American Composers, giving them a new life of their own.
Founder and Artistic Director of Hued Songs
A South Florida native, Kunya Rowley is a community, social impact, and artistic leader in Miami, FL. He is the founder and Artistic Director of Hued Songs, a non-profit collective that celebrates Black culture through artistic experiences, as well as the Music Access, Arts, & Culture Manager at The Miami Foundation, leading the Foundation’s effort focused on making music education & the arts more accessible and equitable in the city. Kunya is a graduate from The University of Florida and is an alum of New World School of the Arts’ opera program. In addition to his artistic and directorial credits with Hued Songs, notable performance credits include performances with Magic City Opera, Slow Burn Theatre, Opera Naples, Florida Grand Opera, Orchestra Miami, Klezmer Orchestra, and M Ensemble. Kunya is a 2017 recipient of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight Arts Challenge grant, which propelled the founding of Hued Songs. Additionally, he serves on the review panel for the National YoungArts Foundation’s classical voice division. Through his work, Kunya seeks to build community through music and to be a conduit for accessible arts across a multi-cultural platform.
Soprano, Professor of Voice at The University of Michigan
Louise Toppin is a noted performer, scholar and professor who specializes in the concert repertoire of African American composers. In the span of her career, more than 30 songs and 2 operas have been written expressly for her voice. In addition, she has sung the world premiere of 30 more songs and arias of contemporary composers. As the administrator of the George Shirley Vocal Competition for the past nine years and Videmus (a non-profit organization that promotes the concert repertoire of African American and women composers) for more than twenty-five years, she encourages the performance and scholarship of African American compositions by students and scholars through recordings, conference presentation, live performances, and lectures.
As a performer she has received critical acclaim for her operatic, orchestral, and oratorio performances throughout the United States, Czech Republic, Scotland, Japan, China, Uruguay, Colombia, Cuba, Sweden, the Caribbean, Bermuda, New Zealand, England, and Spain in such halls as Lincoln Center, Merkin Hall and Carnegie Hall (New York), Weill Recital Hall (New York), the Kennedy Center (Washington, DC), the Gran Teatre del Licieu (Barcelona), the Beijing Concert Hall, and the Shanghai Opera House and the International Albeniz Festival in Camprodon, Spain.
She was previously Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Music at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to that she served as Area Head of Voice and the Associate Chair for Performance, Composition and Music Education at UNC. Earlier positions include East Carolina University, Bowling Green State University and Eastern Michigan University. Currently, she is Professor of Voice at The University of Michigan.
Countertenor, Programming Consultant at Handel & Haydn Society of Boston
Reginald leads a very prolific career in the United States, where he resides. In March 2020, he became the first ever programming consultant for the Handel and Haydn Society following several years of leading H+H in his community engaging Every Voice concerts. He is a regular guest with Cantata Collective, Musica Angelica, Agave Baroque, Charlotte Bach Akademie, Seraphic Fire, Quodlibet, Pacific Music Works, Bach Collegium San Diego, San Francisco Early Music Society, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra.... Recent engagements have included concerts and recordings with organisations such as Opera Lafayette, Miller Theatre (Columbia University), Blue Heron in Boston, Chatham baroque in Pittsburgh, Washington Bach Consort. Most of the recordings are available online.
His recordings have been received with critical acclaim, including several Grammy nominations, most recently for his work on A Lad’s Love with Brian Giebler on BRIDGE 9542 label, which has been nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album. He has also been featured on several albums with the Monteverdi Choir and Sir John Eliot Gardiner, including a recording of Bach’s St Matthew Passion and Magnificat. His own projects include Peace In Our Time on Vgo Recordings label with frequent collaborators, Agave Baroque. He also looks forward to the release of American Originals with Agave Baroque, which celebrates the music of composers of colour.
Composer, Professor of Voice at Auburn University
Dr. Rosephanye Dunn Powell has been hailed as one of America’s premier women composers of choral music. She has an impressive catalogue of works published by some of the nation’s leading publishers, including the Hal Leonard Corporation, the Fred Bock Music Company/Gentry Publications, Oxford University Press, Alliance Music Publications, and Shawnee. Dr. Powell is commissioned yearly to compose for university choruses, professional, community and church choirs, as well as secondary school choruses. Dr. Powell’s works have been conducted and premiered by nationally-renowned choral conductors, including, but not limited to, Anton Armstrong, Philip Brunelle, Bob Chilcott, Rodney Eichenberger, Tom Hall, Albert McNeil, Tim Seelig, and André Thomas. Her work has been auctioned by Chorus America and her compositions are in great demand at choral festivals around the country, frequently appearing on the regional and national conventions of the American Choral Directors Association, as well as Honor Choir festivals. Dr. Powell’s compositions include sacred and secular works for mixed chorus, women’s chorus, men’s chorus, and children’s voices.
Dr. Powell serves as Professor of Voice at Auburn University. She holds degrees from The Florida State University (D.M. in vocal performance, University Fellow), Westminster Choir College (M.M. in vocal performance and pedagogy, with distinction), and Alabama State University (B.M.E., summa cum laude). Dr. Powell served on the faculties of Philander Smith College (AR) and Georgia Southern University prior to her arrival at Auburn University in 2001.