Tag Archives: national philharmonic

National Philharmonic Salutes Black Classical Composers

African-American violinist Melissa White, of Local 802 (New York City), was a featured soloist with the National Philharmonic Orchestra in a Black History Month celebration, “Black Classical Music Pioneers.” The concert, which occurred at The Music Center at Strathmore on Feb. 22, featured works by African-American composers of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Featured works included: Local 802 (New York City) member Wynton Marsalis’ “Wild Strumming of Fiddle,” a 12-movement work that fuses jazz and symphonic music to create a dizzying array of sounds, rhythms and melodies; Violin Concerto No. 1 by Florence Price (1887-1953), a highly accomplished work in the models of the European classical concerto by the first African-American woman to be widely recognized as a symphonic composer; “The Lyric for Strings” by George Walker (1922-2018), the first African-American composer to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music; and The Symphony No. 1 by William Grant Still (1895-1978), the first symphony written by an African-American composer.

National Philharmonic Will Continue Operations

The National Philharmonic in Maryland will continue performing in the coming season and beyond, after avoiding a near shut-down this summer.

In July, the orchestra announced unexpectedly that it had run out of money and would cease operations. The announcement prompted an outcry from audience members and musicians. In response, the philharmonic’s president put together an emergency fundraising campaign which raised $210,000—enough to cover operations in the coming season.

However, the musicians’ trust in management had already been lost. Jim Kelly, a violinist in the orchestra and a member of Local 161-710 (Washington, DC) and of Local 40-543 (Baltimore, MD), launched an independent fundraising campaign, raising $300,000. Those funds were to go to the National Philharmonic on the condition that senior leadership would be replaced; the board unanimously approved the plan.

Kelly will work unpaid for one year as president while the board searches for a permanent replacement. The outgoing president, who was in support of the plan, will serve as a consultant to Kelly through the end of the calendar year. The current board chair will step down and will be replaced by another board member.