Music of Hale Smith
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCR860     Release Date: 2007-01-01
Boston Musica Viva: (Bayla Keyes, violin; Mary Ruth Ray, viola; Jan Mueller-Szeraws, cello; Renee Krimsier, flute; William Wrzesien, clarinet; Dean Anderson, percussion; Geoffrey Burleson, piano; Richard Pittman, Conductor); Ira Wiggins, saxophone; Timothy Holley, cello; Slovenic Symphony Orchestra, Anton Nanut, Conductor; Hilda Harris, soprano; Zita Carno, piano; Mark Husey, piano; Alexandria Choral Society; Kerry Krebill, Conductor; Natalie Hinderas, piano; The Kulas Choir; The Kulas Chamber Ensemble; Robert Shaw, Conductor


Until recently American concert life has permitted few inroads for African American composers. Performers have fared better, especially in opera, where singers like Leontyne Price, Simon Estres and Jessye Norman have altered our whole view of vocal style. But while orchestras, opera companies and arts presenters eager to diversify have encouraged a rich array of performers and conductors, the repertoires have remained largely European.

At the dawn of the 21st century signs point toward new approaches. The sheer globalization of American culture has sparked new interest in Asia, Latin America and Africa, as artists, institutions and music lovers recognize the wholeness of the arts rather than easy divisions into categories and sub-categories. The very notion of the “black composer” has begun to fall, as persons of all colors write music of all kinds. Likewise the old “all-black” concert is being replaced, gradually, by music in which racial background is just one of many enriching elements.

One of the more rigorous members of the generation that includes George Walker and Julia Perry is Hale Smith, who was born in Cleveland in 1925 and resided there until 1959. His early training on the piano began at age seven, and his initial performance experience included both classical and jazz music. After military service during World War II (1943-45), he attended the Cleveland Institute of Music, where his primary teacher in composition was Marcel Dick. He earned a bachelor's degree in 1950 and a master's in 1952.

In 1973 Smith was the first African American to receive Cleveland's arts Prize in Music. More recent awards have included the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Black Music Caucus of the Music Educators National Conference (1982) and appointment to the New York State Arts Council. He has also served on the boards of the American Composers Alliance and of Composers Recording, Inc. New-music proponent and composer Francis Thorne called Smith “a valuable composing colleague—the real thing.”

The complexity of academic life was never important in nurturing Smith's music, but working as a practitioner in music was. However, working with publishing houses, such as, E. B. Marks, Frank Music, Fox and C. F. Peters enabled him to function in academia. After a stint on the faculty of C. W. Post College of Long Island University he accepted a position at the University of Connecticut at Storrs, where he taught from 1970 until his retirement in 1984. He was on of the directors of the American Music Center from 1981 to 1983. During the 1970s and 80s he also became an important spokesman for composers in America. As a frequent lecturer he has urged young musicians/composers to resist pigeonholing. “Unless the work of Afro-American artists (musical or otherwise) is allowed to succeed or fail by comparison—or in competition—with the works of the entire national and world cultures, “ he wrote in 1971, “we will have no valid standards of measurement by which they can be measured and judged on their own merits.”


This title, originally issued on the CRI label, is now available for order from New World Records as an on-demand CD (CD-R). It can also be downloaded in MP3/320, FLAC and/or WAV format(s).

Various Artists

Music of Hale Smith

MP3/320 $9.99
FLAC $9.99
WAV $9.99
CD $15.99

Track Listing

Dialogues & Commentaries
Hale Smith
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Variations à due: I.
Hale Smith
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Variations à due: II.
Hale Smith
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Variations à due: III.
Hale Smith
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Innerflexions
Hale Smith
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Valley Wind: I. The Valley Wind
Hale Smith
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Valley Wind: II. Spring
Hale Smith
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Valley Wind: III. Envoy In Autumn
Hale Smith
Buy
Valley Wind: IV. Velvet Shoes
Hale Smith
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Toussaint L'Ouverture, 1803
Hale Smith
Buy
Evocation
Hale Smith
Buy
In Memoriam - Beryl Rubinstein: I. Moderato
Hale Smith
Buy
In Memoriam - Beryl Rubinstein: II. Poème D'Automne
Hale Smith
Buy
In Memoriam - Beryl Rubinstein: III. Elegy
Hale Smith
Buy