British composer Eleanor Alberga says that "the classical music world is not very inclusive." Speaking at a conference on diversity, the Jamaica-born Alberga said that she's tired of getting commissioned for pieces that have a "racial agenda." When she's hired, Alberga says, "quite often an extra agenda is attached where I'm asked to write about slavery or to emphasize Afro-Caribbean influences in my music."
Alberga called for the classical music world to "entertain a broader concept of what a mainstream contemporary composer sounds and looks like so there isn't just an inner club of composers who get heard while others are effectively silenced." (BBC)
Congrats to Ben
Benjamin Grosvenor has been named the inaugural recipient of the Ronnie and Lawrence Ackman Classical Piano Prize. The prize is awarded by the New York Philharmonic, which says "the Ackman Prize will be awarded every three years to an up-and-coming pianist or piano duo chosen by prominent pianists, Philharmonic leadership, and other musical figures. Prize winners receive $30,000 and will perform with the Philharmonic, play chamber music with Philharmonic musicians, and serve as classical music ambassadors, taking part in community engagement and education initiatives around New York City."
Family tragedy for a Piano Guy
Pianist Jon Schmidt of the Piano Guys has experienced a family tragedy: his 21-year-old daughter Annie Schmidt is believed dead after disappearing while hiking in Oregon earlier this month. During an extensive search for the missing woman, the Piano Guys asked their fans to share any information they might have regarding Annie's whereabouts. (Fox News)
Tenor sings national anthem but supports protests
Tenor Lawrence Brownlee sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" at last Sunday's NFL game between the New York Jets and the Baltimore Ravens, but said he supported athletes who chose to protest by kneeling silently during the song. "I decided to use the voice that God has given me to sing," said Brownlee in a statement, "to sing with the conflicting emotions that pull at my heart...the honor, the pride, the frustration, the sadness...Colin Kaepernick’s message, the hope of my ancestors, and the sacrifice of those who gave their lives protecting our flag." (New York Times)
We've heard of a cigar box banjo, but...
A violin made from Winston Churchill’s cigar box is going up for auction, and is expected to sell for between $600 and $1,200. The small instrument was played by Yehudi Menuhin for a 1958 radio broadcast. (Classic FM)
Elfman scores Trump
Film composer Danny Elfman has composed original music to accompany Donald Trump pacing behind Hillary Clinton at the second U.S. presidential debate. (The Wrap)
Remembering Peter Reynolds
Welsh composer Peter Reynolds has died at age 58. Reynolds is best-known for composing (with Simon Rees) Sands of Time, a four-minute work recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the shortest opera ever. (Rhinegold.co.uk)
A musical medic
British EMT Lewis Quinn is going viral with his casual performance of Puccini’s "Nessun Dorma," which he sang earlier this month during a rare quiet moment in an ambulance bay. Quinn formerly sang with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and is now a member of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir. (Classic FM)
This weekly column serves to round up some news items we haven't covered elsewhere on our site. For more of this week's classical music news, see YourClassical.org.