Kellen Gray & RSNO - African American Voices - Textura
African American Voices testifies to the inestimable richness of the music composed by William Levi Dawson (1899-1990), George Walker (1922-2018), and William Grant Still (1895-1978). The Royal Scottish National Orchestra and its Assistant Conductor Kellen Gray bring three of their works vividly to life in performances recorded in 2022 at Scotland's Studio in Glasgow. The hour-long release is effectively structured, framing as it does Walker's eloquent Lyric for Strings (1946; revised 1990) with two symphonies of markedly different character. Though Dawson and Still both weave Afro-American elements into a symphonic fabric, the former's Negro Folk Symphony (1934; revised 1952) draws from West African folk idioms, American Negro spirituals, and early African American folk rhythms; blues and jazz, on the other hand, inform the writing of Still's Symphony No. 1 ‘Afro-American' (1931). How wonderful to see Gray and The Royal Scottish National Orchestra giving these works such sterling performances and doing their part to ensure this music retains a presence in today's contemporary milieu.