(PORTLAND, OR)—Darrell Grant will make his debut as a classical solo piano composer next week when the British phenom Isata Kanneh-Mason plays his piece Darker Angels during her residency with Portland Piano International (PPI). As part of PPI's Rising Star series. Kanneh-Mason will present a handful of free one-hour concerts, as well as visiting a number of educational and outreach programs around Portland. Public performances will take place on Friday, January 26 at 7 pm at Portland Piano Company and Saturday, January 27 at 7:30 pm at the Community Music Center. Tickets are not necessary, and more information can be found at the links below and at the PPI website: http://portlandpiano.org/.
Friday, January 26 at 7 pm
Portland Piano Company, 8700 NE Columbia Blvd, Portland, OR 97220
Saturday, January 27 at 7:30 pm
Community Music Center, 3350 SE Francis St, Portland, OR 97202
The inspiration for Grant's PPI commissioned piece was the music and legacy of 19th-century Afro-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Born in 1875 to a Sierra Leone Creole father and an English mother, Coleridge-Taylor was referred to as “the African Mahler.” His celebrated oratorio Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast, based on the epic poem Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, was as popular in its day as Handel’s Messiah.
Grant’s piece, Darker Angels: Reflections on Hiawatha, draws on source material from Coleridge-Taylor's 24 Negro Melodies, Opus 59, a collection of piano works based on Negro spirituals and West African folk themes inspired in part by the composer's encounters with African-American literary figures like Paul Lawrence Dunbar and W.E.B. DuBois. In Darker Angels, Grant continues to address issues of place and cultural history. The title refers in part to one of Coleridge-Taylor's melodies entitled "The Angels Changed My Name” and in part to the tragedy that shadowed Coleridge-Taylor's life and early death. The piece itself depicts the spiritual transformation of the real-life Hiawatha, who, after encountering a historic prophet known as The Peacemaker rose to become a legendary Native American leader and co-founder of the Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy.
Kanneh-Mason will play Darker Angels, selections from Coleridge-Taylor's 24 Negro Melodies, as well as works by Ravel, Prokofiev, and Beethoven. Grant will be in attendance at most of her residency events.