Santa Monica-based Jacaranda Chamber Ensemble programmed “music by African-American composers at the First Presbyterian Church Saturday night,” writes Richard S. Ginell in Tuesday’s (3/26) San Francisco Classical Voice. “Jacaranda Artistic and Executive Director Patrick Scott … started with Florence Price (1887–1953).… Pianist and CSU Long Beach faculty member Althea Waites has been on this case for years; having received the manuscript of Price’s Piano Sonata back in 1985 while at a festival in Geneva, she has been championing the piece ever since. The sonata is worth advocating, too… Everything was played with obvious affection by Waites…. The influence of pentatonic African-American and Native American music was more obvious in William Grant Still’s Ennanga (named for a Ugandan harp), which employs a classical harp, piano, and string quartet.… Lastly came a new arrangement by conductor Scott Dunn for piano and 14-piece chamber group of Ellington’s New World A-Comin.’ … It was fun, and at times, it swung. But most of all, New World A-Comin’ neatly completed the program’s journey, closing with an American idiom of swinging jazz and signature Ellington harmonies that fits inside a conventional concert hall while owing less than ever to European models.”

Posted April 1, 2019