Melanated Moments in Classical Music, the award-winning podcast from Classical Music Indy, shines a spotlight on musical works composed by, for, and about Black people. Melanated Moments is hosted by international opera soprano Angela Brown and music sociologist Joshua Thompson. Angela and Joshua’s chemistry is electric, balancing fun, lively commentary with no-nonsense straight talk. Telling history like it is, Angela and Joshua share a deep commitment to be a voice for Black artists, as Black artists.
Melanated Moments in Classical Music was named Best Music Podcast by the 2020 Black Podcasting Awards.
Morning Brown, Inc. is the podcast’s official promotional partner. Auralex Acoustics is the official product partner of Melanated Moments in Classical Music. We thank them for elevating our podcast production and listening experience. Season Five of Melanated Moments in Classical Music was made possible in part by the Indy Arts Council and the Indiana Arts Commission.
November 30, 2022
Joshua and Angela discuss the life and times of Europe’s most renowned virtuoso violinist of the 18th and 19th centuries, George Bridgetower. In the age of the global slave trade, competing empires, and revolution, Bridgetower exemplified the refinement, sophistication, and mastery of the classical era while rubbing elbows with the European elite.
“Henry, A Ballade,” by George Bridgetower, feat. soprano Benita Borbonus
“Violin Sonata No. 9, Mvt. 3: Finale,” by Ludwig Van Beethoven, feat. violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy
November 23, 2022
Angela and Joshua welcome dramatic soprano and Artistic Director of the Fort Worth Opera Co, Afton Battle. Known for her tenacity, vision, and unapologetic commitment to programming operatic works that are a true reflection of the communities they serve, Ms. Battle outlines the importance of intentionality in a field that continues to push Black and brown artists to the margins.
“Fruhling,” by Richard Strauss, feat. Jessye Norman
“Agnus Dei,” from An African-American Requiem by Damien Geter
“Triumphal March,” from Aida by Verdi
Statement from Ms. Battle:
“The most disrespected person in America, is the Black woman. The most un-protected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.” – Malcolm X
On July 5, 2022, I made the difficult decision to resign from Fort Worth Opera. I did not step into this lightly. However, when respect is no longer being served, I must protect myself, and leave the table.”
November 16, 2022
Joshua and Angela welcome clarinetist and co-founder of The Harlem Chamber Players, Liz Player. Detailing her return to music from a career in computer science, Liz Player traces the origins of The Harlem Chamber Players and the organization’s evolution from programming mostly Mozart to performances filled with melanated masterpieces, most notably from composer Dr. Adolphus Hailstork.
November 9, 2022
Joshua and Angela sit down with Musical America‘s Composer of the Year, Jessie Montgomery. Violinist, educator, and one of the 21st-century’s premier composers, Montgomery sheds light on her musical upbringing and her social awakening as a composer of color in a field that is still all too reticent to uplift and highlight the contributions in classical music from the African diaspora.
November 2, 2022
Angela and Joshua introduce listeners to extraordinary baritone Robert McFerrin Sr. Tracing McFerrin’s performance journey from Broadway to The Metropolitan Opera to Hollywood, Joshua and Angela discuss McFerrin’s vocal prowess, his ability to take advantage of the evolving entertainment industry, and the influential vocal model he set that generations of successful vocalists have followed.
“I Got Plenty of Nothin’,” from Porgy and Bess
“Pari Siamo,” from Rigoletto
October 26, 2022
Joshua and Angela share the rich musical and cultural legacy of composer, pianist, Pulitzer Prize winner, and Kennedy Center Honors Inductee Tania León. A self-professed ‘citizen of the world,’ Leon defies classification while elevating the significant contributions from her Afro-Cuban, Nigerian, Chinese, and French heritage.
October 19, 2022
Angela and Joshua interview Adam Eccleston, internationally renowned flutist and Chair of All Classical Portland’s “Recording Inclusivity Initiative (RII).” Drawing upon his Caribbean heritage and desire to program and perform works by composers of African descent, Eccleston details the origins and process of the RII, a collection of never-before recorded compositions from the African diaspora now made available to radio stations and media outlets the world over in October 2022 via All Classical Portland.
“Sonata for Flute and Piano (mvt 1),” by Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, feat. Adam Eccleston on Flute
“Taking Names,” by Jasmine Barnes feat. Karen Slack
“Spark and Glimmer,” by Lauren McCall
April 20, 2022
Season Four culminates with violist, entrepreneur, and podcaster Drew Forde, known to over 100,000 Instagram followers as ThatViolaKid. Angela and Joshua spend time with Forde, who shares remarkable insights into the power of classical music. He explains how the viola serves as a window into his soul and shapes his trajectory within the classical genre and outside of it by collaborating with mainstream artists Alicia Keys, Adele, and others. Through it all, Drew Forde is a champion for artistic entrepreneurship and demonstrates the level of dedication and passion required to carry this versatile art form well into the 21st century.
“Bach Cello Suite No. 2 (prelude),” arranged for viola
“If I Ain’t Got You,” by Alicia Keys, arranged for viola by Drew Forde
“Sunflower,” by Post Malone, arranged by Vitamin String Quartet, featuring Drew Forde
April 13, 2022
Joshua introduces us to pianist and composer Dr. Mikhail Johnson. Born and raised in Jamaica, Dr. Johnson traces his musical influences from the region’s choral composers to his foray into instrumental and 21st-century composition. Angela and Joshua listen to three contrasting works as Dr. Johnson provides compelling insights into the origins of their inception. Relying heavily on the lineage and language of an island and a people who continue to impact nearly every aspect of global and musical culture, his imaginative compositions inspire discovery and accessibility to transform the constructs of the classical canon.
“Xamaica Fanfare,” by Dr. Mikhail Johnson
“Dutty Tough,” performed by vocalist Autumn Cochran Jordan, and pianist and composer Dr. Mikhail Johnson
“Wach ya HAYDN,” performed by Benjamin Crook
April 6, 2022
Joshua familiarizes us with the short but exceptional life of composer Julia Perry. He and Angela explore the meaning of postmodernism in connection with Perry’s compositional evolution from traditional to postmodern stylings. A two-time recipient of the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship, Perry studied with the renowned Madame Nadia Boulanger in France, composed despite multiple strokes and significant health challenges, and had her music recorded by the New York Philharmonic in 1965.
“Free At Last,” arranged by Julia Perry, performed by vocalist Robert Honeysucker and pianist Vivian Taylor
“Prelude No. 1 for piano,” performed by Allegra Chapman
“Short Piece for Orchestra,” performed by the Imperial Philharmonic of Tokyo
March 30, 2022
In this episode, Angela and Joshua welcome scholar, author, and renowned vocalist Robert Sims to discuss the life and legacy of Roland Hayes. An in-depth discussion reveals Sims’ great care in charting Hayes’ pioneering career pathway for Black male vocalists at the turn of the 20th century. Sims’ research also highlights Hayes’ influence on subsequent generations of celebrated singers throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, including himself.
“Du bist die ruh,” sung by Roland Hayes
“Go Down Moses,” sung by Roland Hayes
“Little Boy,” sung by Robert Sims
“Oh My Lord, Keep Me from Sinking Down,” sung by Roland Hayes and Robert Sims
March 23, 2022
Joshua and Angela salute the illustrious career of opera soprano Leontyne Price. We hear three signature selections by Ms. Price and learn of her journey from Laurel, Mississippi, to capturing the attention and admiration of the world for her unparalleled vocal prowess and artistry. She remains a standard-bearer for opera singers globally.
“Summertime,” from Porgy and Bess, performed by Leontyne Price
“O patria mia,” from Aida, performed by Leontyne Price and The Metropolitan Opera
“This Little Light of Mine,” by Margaret Bonds, performed by Leontyne Price
March 16, 2022
Angela and Joshua introduce and interview composer James Lee III. Lee gives us a peek into his composing process, deeply rooted in his fascination with and inspiration from his cross-cultural and musical background. Listeners are treated to three exquisite compositions that indicate why Lee is prized and in constant demand for his musical imagination and socio-historical significance.
“Sonata for Violin and Piano”
“Niiji Memories,” performed by the Columbia Orchestra, featuring flutist Julietta Curenton, conducted by Jason Love
“Beyond Rivers of Vision,” performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, conducted by Scott Yoo
March 9, 2022In this episode, Angela introduces everyone to the life and legacy of trailblazer Shirley Verrett. Her remarkable voice and artistry allowed her to successfully span mezzo-soprano and soprano roles. Verrett ascended to the heights of operatic stardom during the Civil Rights era of the 1960s, defying the racist and exclusionary customs of the industry. Verrett is recognized as one of the most revered Black operatic figures and continues to be a role model to generations of aspiring vocalists.Featured Music:
“Mon coeur s’ouvre á ta voix,” from Samson et Dalila by Saint-Saëns, performed by Shirley Verrett
“Vissi da’rte,” from Tosca by Pucinni, performed by Shirley Verret
“Give Me Jesus,” performed by Shirley Verrett
March 2, 2022
The first episode of Season 4 introduces audiences to the life, work, and continued impact of composer, bandleader, and culture creator Francis Johnson. Angela and Joshua listen to Johnson’s March and New Bird Waltz while providing commentary on Johnson’s unmistakable role in defining the sound of patriotic music for a young America desperate to cultivate an identity of its own.
“Johnson’s March,” by Francis Johnson
“New Bird Waltz,” by Francis Johnson
October 6, 2021
Angela and Joshua wrap up Season Three with a flourish by speaking with solo and collaborative violist Ashleigh Gordon. She is recognized internationally as an effective social change agent through education. Ashleigh reflects on her journey as a musician and how she endeavors to center and celebrate the works of Black artists and composers through her Boston-based organization, Castle of Our Skins.
September 29, 2021
Joshua and Angela welcome the distinguished ethnomusicologist Rev. Dr. Alisha Lola Jones to discuss one of the most important women composers of all time, Florence Price. An authority on Price, Dr. Jones tells of Price’s groundbreaking career path that dispelled the overwhelming barriers to a Black female composing music.
September 22, 2021
Angela and Joshua reflect on the inspiring life and work of the brilliant composer Undine Smith Moore. As a woman living through the time of the Jim Crow South, Moore’s body of work mirrors the deliberate and intentional evolution of her personal worldview.
“Love, Let the Wind Cry,” by Undine Smith Moore, performed by Aundi Marie Moore
“Allegro,” from the Afro-American Suite by Undine Smith Moore, performed by Kate Steinbeck, Tim Holley, and Dewitt Tipton
“Watch and Pray,” by Undine Smith Moore, performed by Angela Brown
September 15, 2021
Joshua and Angela expound on the life and work of the iconic British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, focusing on one of his most famous works, the Song of Hiawatha. Excerpts from the Hiawatha Overture punctuate the discussion of Coleridge Taylor’s international career, prolific body of work, and how composers of that era often did not receive fair financial compensation for their work.
September 8, 2021
Angela and Joshua survey the multifaceted life of legendary David Baker. An iconic composer, educator, performer, and native of Indianapolis, Baker is revered globally for his unique ability to traverse the worlds of jazz and classical music deftly and equally. His works Calypso, A Good Assassination Should be Quiet, and Bolling Suite for cello and jazz piano are featured to demonstrate his signature style that continues to be a model for classical and jazz composers.
“A Good Assassination Should Be Quiet,” performed by Mary Johnson Letellier and Scott Wheatley
“Bolling Suite for Cello and Jazz Piano Trio,” performed by Yehuda Hanani, Michael Chertock, James Cammack, and Arti Dixson
“Calypso from Suite for Cello and Jazz Trio,” performed by Monika Herzig, Pavel Klimashevsky, Dieter Schumacher, and Manuel Fischer-Dieskau
September 1, 2021
Joshua and Angela acquaint us with a groundbreaking composer and pianist, Margaret Bonds. Joshua takes us through the life of Margaret Bonds, who was at the epicenter of cultural and artistic expression during the turn of the 20th century, collaborating with luminaries Florence Price and Langston Hughes, among others. We hear a performance of Bonds’ Montgomery Variations, performed by the University of Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, a stunning example of the composer’s ability to “score” the civil rights movement.
“Montgomery Variations,” by Margaret Bonds, performed by the University of Connecticut Symphony Orchestra
August 25, 2021
Joshua and Angela discuss the pioneering work of Harry Burleigh and how he directly influenced the sound of American music and paved the way into the traditional classical music space for the Black artists and composers who followed him. We are introduced to one of Burleigh’s non-choral works, Southland Sketches for violin and piano, and a rare recording of Burleigh singing Go Down, Moses.
“Southland Sketches,” performed by Harry T. Burleigh
“Go Down, Moses,” performed by Harry T. Burleigh, recorded in 1919
August 18, 2021
Angela and Joshua explore the global and diasporic works of Rosephanye Powell and speak with the artist herself. Our co-hosts discuss Rosephanye’s approach to arranging, how to avoid cultural appropriation while honoring the roots of cultural inspiration, and why presenting a story can help diverse audiences understand music derived from the Negro spiritual. We’ll hear works performed by the Eastman Chorale, VocalEssence, and the Philander Smith Collegiate Choir.
“Sorida,” performed by the Philander Smith Collegiate Choir
“Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child,” performed by VocalEssence
“The Word Was God,” performed by the Eastman Chorale
April 28, 2021
Angela and Joshua explore the depths of the American Negro Spiritual with Dr. Everett McCorvey, noted tenor, conductor, and founder of the American Spiritual Ensemble. They explain how the American Negro Spiritual differs from gospel, its foundational relationship to American music, and how the art form transcended from the cotton fields to concert halls worldwide.
“You Must Have That True Religion,” by Roland Carter, performed by American Spiritual Ensemble
“Soon I Will Be Done,” arranged by Robert Jefferson, performed by American Spiritual Ensemble
“Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel,” performed by American Spiritual Ensemble
April 21, 2021
Joshua introduces Robert Nathaniel Dett, a quintessential Diasporic composer who blended African-American folk music traditions with classic European musical styles to create masterful and unique compositions. A performance by William Chapman Nyaho of Robert Nathaniel Dett’s piano suite, In the Bottoms, is showcased to illustrate Robert Nathaniel Dett’s prowess as a musical scenescape painter.
“In the Bottoms,” by Robert Nathaniel Dett, performed by William Chapman Nyaho
April 14, 2021
Joshua and Angela welcome acclaimed and multifaceted performer Ric’key Pageot to the show. He speaks about his recent journey to explore his Haitian heritage and discover an impressive trove of classical music inspired by a legacy of Vodou and revolution. They discuss an amazing piece by Haitian-born composer Carmen Brouard entitled Baron la Croix.
“Baron la Croix,” by Carmen Brouard, performed by Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
April 7, 2021
In this episode, Angela enlightens us about a performer she refers to as an “accidental activist.” Marian Anderson was an amazing and groundbreaking performer who used her talents to blaze a trail and help move our country and world toward a more equitable future.
“My Country ‘Tis of Thee (hymn),” performed by Marian Anderson
“Deep River,” by Harry Burleigh, performed by Marian Anderson
“Ave Maria,” by Charles Gounod, performed by Marian Anderson
March 31, 2021
Angela and Joshua discuss the short but immensely impactful life of Moses Hogan and his contributions to music by making spirituals a standard part of choral repertoires.
“Elijah Rock,” arranged by Moses Hogan
“Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho,” arranged by Moses Hogan
“I’m Gonna Sing ‘Til the Spirit Moves in My Heart,” arranged by Moses Hogan
March 24, 2021
Joshua and Angela reflect on the amazing life and music of Ignatius Sancho, who was born on a slave ship and orphaned shortly thereafter. Through dedication and application, he escaped the institution of slavery and made a huge contribution to the arts, including many great classical compositions.
“Minuetto 2,” from Minuets, Cotillons and Country Dances by Ignatius Sancho
“Minuet No. 10,” by Ignatius Sancho
March 17, 2021
Angela and Joshua talk about an imaginative and powerful storyteller, Laura Karpman, who has been an advocate and ally for inclusion and equality her entire career. Her Grammy- and Emmy-winning music scores span film, television, theater, interactive media, and live performance.
March 10, 2021
Angela and Joshua speak with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Anthony Davis and groundbreaking clarinetist Anthony McGill about the recent performance of “You Have the Right to Remain Silent” and the catharsis of sharing painful yet powerful experiences through music.
December 2, 2020
In this third and final bonus episode, Joshua and Angela are joined again by the prolific and talented Dr. Bill Banfield. He shares insights from his time serving on the Pulitzer committee for music, and we listen to his arrangement titled The Cape Is Charming, whose lyrics were taken from a letter written by Langston Hughes.
“The Cape is Charming,” by William Banfield
November 25, 2020
In this episode, Joshua and Angela speak with Dr. Bill Banfield about his personal experience with the COVID-19 virus and how it caused him to think deeply about the deep issues of our lives and the lives of those around us. They use Dr. Banfield’s 6th Symphony as a catalyst to explore how hard times like those we are experiencing often precede moments of hope and joy.
“Symphony No. 6,” by William Banfield
November 18, 2020
In this bonus episode of the show, Angela and Joshua invite a special and renowned guest, Dr. Bill Banfield, to share insight into his amazing body of work. This episode focuses on how art can help us process tragedies and draw through lines between the past’s struggles and the present’s hardships. Through this process, we learn how artists can help foster peace and hope on an individual and social level.
“Peace Symphony,” by William Banfield
April 15, 2020
In this episode, Angela walks us through her storied career and shares some of her favorite performances with the help of her long-time friend, Janet Jarriel.
“Ciel mio padre” from Aida (Act III) by Giuseppe Verdi, performed by soprano Angela Brown, baritone Gregg Baker, and Opera Philadelphia
The theme song from UCNF, performed live by Angela Brown in “Opera…from a Sistah’s Point of View”
April 7, 2020
Our featured composer in this episode, Thomas Wiggins, is one of the most talented musicians of all time… who also happened to be non-verbal, blind, and born into slavery. Joshua tells us how in his own time, Wiggins was portrayed as a circus act rather than a musical genius but is now starting to get the recognition he has long deserved.
“Battle of Manassas,” by Thomas Wiggins
April 1, 2020
In this episode of Melanated Moments, Angela gives us an inside look at the making of a masterpiece. She tells us how composer Richard Danielpour worked with literary legend Maya Angelou to set a number of poems for the iconic song cycle, A Woman’s Life. Angela tells us of her once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform in Miss Angelou’s own home, a performance that moved her to tears.
March 25, 2020
The libretto for this week’s piece was written by poet laureate and iconic literary figure Toni Morrison. Margaret Garner is an opera that tells the story of an escaped slave who is captured but decides to kill her own children rather than see them forced back into slavery. Our own Angela Brown voiced one of the principal characters during the world premiere in Detroit, and she walks us through this powerful and thought-provoking opera.
March 19, 2020
Evelyn Simpson Curenton was born into one of the most musically gifted families of all time, and her talent still shined through. She is one of the most sought-after composers and musicians of her time. In this episode, Angela walks us through two of Curenton’s personal favorite spiritual pieces: “Sinner Please Don’t Let This Harvest Pass” and “Oh, Glory.”
“Sinner Please Don’t Let This Harvest Pass,” arranged by Evelyn Simpson Curenton, performed by soprano Jessye Norman
“Oh, Glory,” arranged by Evelyn Simpson Curenton, formed by soprano Kathleen Battle
March 18, 2020
On our debut episode of Melanated Moments in Classical Music, Joshua introduces us to one of his favorite composers, William Grant Still. Known as the Dean of African American Composers, his Africa Suite transports the listener to the dawn of time and the cradle of civilization. Joshua and Angela discuss the piece’s second movement, Land of Romance, as well as cartoons, relationships, and defying stereotypes.
“Africa II: Land of Romance,” by William Grant Still
March 16, 2020
Classical Music Indy invites you to subscribe to a show that takes a fresh look at classical music. Join us as we shine a spotlight on musical works composed by, for, and about people of Black people. Hosts Angela Brown and Joshua Thompson take you inside the music and tell the stories behind the pieces with a perfect blend of lively conversation and no-nonsense straight talk. Full episodes coming March 18, 2020.