Samantha Ege & Castle Of Our Skins | African Tales
SUNDAY 26 MAY - 7:30 PM
Undine Smith Moore Soweto for piano trio
Bongani Ndodana Breen Safika: Three Tales of African Migration for piano quintet
Lavell Blackwell On the Impulse to Move for string quartet
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Piano Quintet
African Tales shines light on classical works that have been long neglected or forgotten, written by three Black composers from Africa and the Diaspora. Internationally acclaimed pianist and historian Samantha Ege is joined by the Castle of our Skins quartet. This programme brings together a variety of styles and influences with works for piano quintet and piano trio.
The programme includes two responses to the harrowing history of apartheid. Safika: Three Tales of African Migration (2011) by Bongani Ndodana-Breen (b.1975) depicts Black South Africans’ dispossession, migration, and translocation. As one of the most important composers in post-liberation South Africa, Ndodana-Breen draws upon personal narratives of his homeland of South Africa. ‘By quoting and paraphrasing aspects of African music and dance, Safika alludes to memories of lives left behind, the people, the songs, the dances, and the connection to the land,’ explains Ndodana-Breen. Composer Undine Smith Moore (1904-1989) references the Black spirituality of her Southern upbringing and that of her South African brothers and sisters in the piano trio Soweto (1987). As a Black woman born in the Jim Crow South, she generated great empathy for the international plight of Black people under similarly oppressive systems. The programme closes with the Piano Quintet in G minor by Samuel Coleridge Taylor (1875-1912), an inspirational figure for many worldwide, and the face of an increasingly multicultural Britain.
‘Though many of the pieces will be unfamiliar to the majority of classical music lovers, the themes of fortitude, resistance, and hope will resonate deeply,‘ explains Samantha. ‘We are excited for listeners to immerse themselves in the music and take this journey with us.‘
According to Ashleigh, founder and violist of COOS, the musicians fully embraced the challenges of the music. ‘I reminded the artists of the storytelling power in these works. It pushed them to new levels of expressivity and communications as chamber musicians.‘ This concert celebrates the many ways classical practitioners of African descent have arrived. It also shows that the field has a long way to go in the representation of African descended artists and African-inspired artistry in classical music.
FREE TICKETS FOR 8-25 YEAR OLDS TO SELECTED CHAMBER MUSIC CONCERTS Through the generous support of the CAVATINA Chamber Music Trust, we are able to offer young people aged 8-25 the fantastic opportunity to experience selected concerts absolutely free.
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About Castle of Our Skins
Castle of our Skins (COOS) is a Boston-based educational series dedicated to celebrating Black artistry through music. From classrooms to concert halls, COOS invites explorations into Black heritage and culture, spotlighting both unsung and celebrated figures of the past and present. Violist Ashleigh Gordon and composer Anthony R. Green founded COOS in 2013 to address the lack of equity in composer representation on concert stages and the omission of important stories and figures in Black history. A decade on, the organisation still shines as a beacon for diversity in the arts.
About Samantha Ege
Samantha Ege is a musicologist, pianist, and research fellow at the University of Southampton. Her research and repertoire tightly entwine, illuminating 20th-century composers of African descent and women in music. She has published extensively in these areas. As a concert pianist, she made her London debut at the London Festival of American Music in September 2021 and her Barbican debut soon after in November that year. Samantha has since proved a sought-after recitalist and concerto soloist with engagements across the UK, Europe, US, and Canada. Her collaborations with Castle of our Skins represent her first significant engagements as a chamber musician.
Samantha Ege piano, narrator
Castle of our Skins
Gabriela Díaz violin
Matthew Vera violin
Ashleigh Gordon viola
Francesca McNeeley cello