A Purely Subjective Review - May 17, 2010
With the dimming of the auditorium lights, the concert began: a video of a jazz ensemble playing C Jam Blues, with Hale performing at the piano and scat-singing, probably filmed 20+ years ago. Other than at a jam session in Freeport on Thanksgiving 1972, I had only seen Hale play with students at UConn, so I was thrilled to see my teacher so utterly in command at the keyboard, with such impeccable time and feel for the groove - right in the pocket! My eyes filled with tears as I realized how much I missed him.
The "Formal Music" commenced with Epicedial Variations featuring pianist Joseph Joubert and Sanford Allen on violin, who I had first encountered in NYC recording studios in the mid 1970s. Sanford still plays as wonderfully as ever. The lovely Variations For Six Players was brought to life by piano and woodwind quintet (Evelyn Golz, David Wechsler, Megan Weiss-Marolf, Liz Player, Deryck Clarke and Amy Fraser), and the "Formal Music" set closed with Variations A Due with sax/flute player Jimmy Cozier and Lawrence Zoernig on 'cello.
Hale's widow Juanita Smith graciously thanked everyone for attending and other speakers such as Regina Baiocchi (http://www.reginaharrisbaiocchi.com) came up to share brief remembrances of their colleague, their teacher, their friend.
T.K. Blue (http://www.tkblue.com) and his Ensemble (Carlton Holmes (http://www.carltonholmes.com), Corcoran Holt, Benny Powell (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benny_Powell), Alvin Atkinson (http://www.alvinatkinson.com) then roared through "Informal Music" - Hale's jazz pieces have been covered by many other artists, but never more enthusiastically. I Love Music, Milagros, Feather, Alison and Frozen Mist were gorgeous, and I was especially struck by how musically Alvin's drum fills and solos enhanced the entire set. Pianist Randy Weston (http://www.randyweston.info) took a haunting solo on African Sunrise, and I was invited to perform Ain't Got Nothin' On You (Blue Luce) before the quintet returned to close the concert with the funky Mountain Oysters - an entirely appropriate, lively and joyous send-off for a wonderful man, brilliant composer and superb musician.
YouTube.com Videos of Artists Performing Hale Smith's Music
Ain't That A Witness - A Spiritual sung by Gylchris Spauve, Tenor
Ain't That A Witness - Kathleen Battle (Part 1)
Jesus Lay Your Head in the Window (Negro Spiritual) / Smith
Ahmad Jamal - Minor Moods
Eric Dolphy - Feathers (Music by Hale Smith)
I Want To Die Easy (Negro Spiritual) / Smith
Marilyn Harris' Intro
According to Music Department lore, Hale Smith was brought on board the UConn faculty in 1970 in part to wrangle 2 wayward composition students - Ron Ancrum and myself - into some semblance of an educated state. Hale provided a glowing example of how one might create a musical life in the Big Apple, from whence he commuted to Storrs, CT every week. We eagerly awaited his arrival Tuesday mornings (okay - it was generally afternoon by the time he'd appear!) - and we hung on his every word for the next couple days. Knowing Hale existed and had an actual career in music gave my friends and me hope for the future, and what he taught us then continues to ring true.
A few years after I'd moved to New York City, I looked back and reflected that I could trace every single professional contact I'd made, every friend I'd found and gig I'd had directly or indirectly through my association with Hale Smith. I'd studied music copying and editing under his tutelage - skills that paid my bills for many years - as well as musicology analysis, arranging and composition. But even more critical than these techniques were the introductions Hale so generously offered, allowing me to meet his colleagues and friends in the music world, where he seemed to know everyone! Hale opened the door to my first job at E.B. Marks as a music librarian and apprentice music editor under Don Sickler - which led to my next job at Belwin-Mills where I met Jack Perricone. Hale brought me to Bob and Judy Haring at Aztec Music, which began a lifelong relationship with their fine papers and duplication services. And he introduced me to Charles Colin, which led to enduring friendships with countless wonderful musicians, composers, recording engineers, producers and singers.
I feel privileged and grateful to have known Hale for so long, to have enjoyed his extraordinary music, his dry wit and good humor, his expertise and guidance all these years. I hope this webpage honors him in some small measure.
Hale Smith Biography
HALE SMITH is regarded as one of America's finest composers. He has also had a distinguished career as an arranger, editor, and educator. Born in Cleveland, Ohio on June 29, 1925, he began study of the piano at age seven, and his initial performance experience included both classical and jazz music. After military service (1943-45), he entered the Cleveland Institute of Music as a composition major, receiving a bachelor's degree in 1950 and a master's degree in 1952. His principal teachers were Ward Lewis in theory and Marcel Dick, his only teacher of composition.
He moved to New York in 1958 and from that time he has worked with many prominent jazz artists, including Chico Hamilton, Dizzy Gillespie, Eric Dolphy, Randy Weston, Melba Liston, Ahmad Jamal, and Oliver Nelson.
He also served as an editor and consultant with several music publishers (E.B. Marks, C.F. Peters, Frank Music Corp. and Sam Fox Music Publishers).
In 1952, Hale Smith was a winner of the first Student Composer's Award sponsored by Broadcast Music Inc., and in 1960 was commissioned by BMI to compose Contours for Orchestra. His other works include Ritual and Incantation, Innerflexions, By Yearning and By Beautiful, Music for Harp and Orchestra, Orchestral Set, Mediations in Passage, several chamber music and solo pieces and several works for chorus and solo voice and piano (see list below).
Hale Smith has received several honors: the Cleveland Arts Prize, and Awards from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, The National Black Music Caucus, and an honorary doctorate from the Cleveland Institute of Music.
He has taught at C.W. Post College (Long Island) and is Professor Emeritus from the University of Connecticut. In addition, he has served on the boards of several organizations: The American Composers Alliance, Composer's Recordings, Inc., The American Music Center, several state arts councils; as a copyright infringement consultant; and as orchestrator and artistic consultant for the Black Music Repertory Ensemble of the Center for Black Music Research Columbia College Chicago. Hale was appointed to the New York State Council on the Arts (1993-1997) by Governor Mario Cuomo.
To read Hale's New York Times Obituary CLICK HERE
To Read T. J. Anderson's moving tribute to Hale from AMC's NewMusicBox CLICK HERE
Hale Smith - Sound Clip Samples:
Detroit Symphony - Columbia M-34556 - RITUAL AND INCANTATIONS
Hilda Harris - Composers Recordings Inc. - THE VALLEY WIND
Natalie Hinderas - Composers Recordings Inc. - EVOCATION
Slovenic Symphony - Composers Recordings Inc. - INNERFLEXIONS
Helene Williams - Capstone Records CPS-8667 - WHEN I LOOK IN YOUR EYES
Baldwin-Wallace Symphonic Band - SOMERSAULT: A TWELVE TONE ADVENTURE FOR BAND
Judi Silvano - www.jslrecords.com - I LOVE MUSIC
Marilyn Harris - Wrightwood Records - AIN'T GOT NOTHIN' ON YOU
Duo for Violin & Piano 1953, New York: C. Peters (rental) Premiere 1955
Epicedial Variations 1956, 1956, revised 1957, Bryn Mawr, PA; Merion Music, 1979. Premiere 1956
Sonata for 'Cello & Piano 1955. New York: C.F. Peters, 1984. Premiere 1956
Three Brevities for Solo Flute 1961. New York; E. B. Marks, 1969. Premiere 1961. Recorded: Eastern ERS-513
Anticipations, Introspections, and Reflections 1971, Bryn Mawr, PA: Merion Music 1979, Premiere 1971
Breaking Bread With Egbert 1997, Freeport, NY; Halsco Music, 1997 Premiere 1997
Evocation 1965, New York; C. F. Peters, 1966. Note: originally titled Aphorism Premiere 1965. Recorded Composers Recordings CRI CD 629, Desto DC-7102/7103 Commissioned by Int'l. Library of Piano Music
Faces of Jazz 1965, New York; E. B. Marks, 1968. Recorded: Protone Records NRPR-2201; Young Sound
Recording YS -62246
For One Called Billy 1975, Freeport, NY; Halsco Music
Four Mosaics 1948, Freeport, NY Halsco Music
Mirrors: Rondo-Variations for Two Pianos 1988, Bryn Mawr, PA Merion Music, 1990. Commissioned by the Delphin and Romain Duo Piano Team.
SMALL INSTRUMENTAL ENSEMBLE
Dialogues and Commentaries for Seven Players (flute, clarinet/bass clarinet, violin, viola, cello, piano, percussion) 1991. Freeport, NY Merion Music (rental)
Introduction, Cadenzas and Interludes for Eight Players (flute/alto flute, oboe, clarinet, harp, piano, violin, viola, cello) 1974, Bryn Mawr, PA; Merion Music, 1976. Commissioned by the Sea Cliff Chamber Players. Premiere 1976. Recorded: Musical Heritage Society MHS 512563
Solemn Music (organ, four horns, four trumpets, three trombones) 1979. New York; C.F. Peters, 1986. Commissioned by Leon Thompson
A Ternion of Seasons (woodwind quintet, brass quintet, percussion, narrator) 1996. Contents: Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun; Rhodora; A Final Affection
Variations a Due (cello and alto saxophone doubling flute, soprano saxophone or clarinet ad lib) 1984. Freeport, NY; Halsco Music.
Variations for Six Players (woodwind quintet, piano) 1975, Bryn Mawr, PA; Merion Music, 1976. Premiere 1975.
Contours for Orchestra 1961. New York; C. F. Peters, 1962. Premiere, 1962. Recorded: Louisville LOU 632
Innerflexions 1977, Bryn Mawr, PA; Theodore Presser (rental) Commissioned by Leon Thompson. Premiere 1977. Recorded: Composers Recordings CRI CD 590
Orchestral Set 1952; revised 1968. New York; C.F. Peters (rental) Premiere 1974
Ritual and Incantations 1974. New York; C.F. Peters 1975. Premiere 1974. Recorded: Columbia M34556
ORCHESTRA (Chamber or Full) WITH SOLOISTS OR CHORUS
Concert Music for Piano and Orchestra 1972. New York; C.F. Peters (rental) Commissioned by Leon Thompson. Premiere 1972.
In Memoriam-Beryl Rubenstein (SATB, chamber orchestra or piano) 1953 New York Highgate Press (Galaxy
Music), 1959. Note: orchestrated in 1958. Recorded: Composers Recordings Inc. CRI SC-182
Meditations In Passage (soprano, baritone, orchestra or piano) 1980-81. Bryn Mawr, PA: Merion Music. 1982. Commissioned by the Fisk University Institute for Research in Black American Music.
Music for Harp and Orchestra 1967 Bryn Mawr, PA; Merion Music (rental) Premiere 1967
Symphonic Spirituals (solo voice, orchestra) 1980 New York; Halsco Music. Also arranged for voice and piano.
By Yearning and By Beautiful 1964. Bryn Mawr, PA; Theodore Presser (rental) Premiere 1972
Variations on a Quasi Classical Tune for String Orchestra of Young Players 1992. Freeport, NY; Halsco Music
Exchanges (trumpet, band) 1970. New York; E. B. Marks. 1976. Also arranged for trumpet and orchestra. Premiere 1970
Expansions 1967. New York; E. B. Marks, 1967. Premiere 1967. Recorded: Dimension 27361; F. Colombo BP 107; New World Records NW 211
March and Fanfare for an Elegant Lady 1986. Freeport, NY Halsco Music
Recitative and Aria for English Horn Solo (English horn, winds, brass, percussion) 1995. Unpublished manuscript
Riverain (winds, brass, percussion) 1993. New York;
C.F. Peters. 1993
Somersault: A Twelve Tone Adventure for Band 1964. New York; Frank Music 1964. Recorded F. Colombo BP 102; Frank Music FR 3465
Take A Chance: An Aleatoric Episode for Band 1964 New York; Frank Music 1965
Trinal Dance 1965, New York; Duchess 1968
Ask Your Mama (one or two narrators, jazz ensemble) 1994 Freeport, NY; Halsco Music. Commissioned by Rawn Spearman
VOICE WITH INSTRUMENTAL ENSEMBLE
I'm Going To Sing (tenor with piano or violin, cello, clarinet, piano) 1991. Freeport, NY; Halsco Music
Two Love Songs of John Donne (soprano, string quartet, woodwind quintet) 1958. Freeport, NY; Halsco Music, Premiere 1958
Beyond the Rim of Day (high voice, piano) 1950. New York; E. B. Marks 1970. contents: March Moon; Troubled Woman; To a Little Lover-Lass; Dead. Premiere 1955
Come Back, My Youth 1972. Freeport, NY; Halsco Music
Five Songs for Soprano and Violin 1956. Freeport, NY; Halsco Music
Music for Martyrs (bass voice, piano, drum) 1997 New York; Halsco Music
Three Patterson Lyrics (soprano voice, piano) 1985 Bryn Mawr, PA, Merion Music 1986
Three Songs (contralto) 1949 Freeport, NY; Halsco Music. Contents: Dream Variations, From the Delta's
Unmarked Graves, Prayer
The Valley Wind (medium voice and piano) 1951-55 New York; E. B. Marks 1974. Note: originally titled Four Songs. contents: The Valley Wind, Spring, Envoy in Autumn, Velvet Shoes. Premiere 1955. Recorded: Composers Recordings CRI SD-301
Tra La La Lamia (soprano, tenor baritone soloists, piano) 1991 Freeport, NY; Halsco Music
Comes Tomorrow: Jazz Cantata (four soloists, SATB, jazz rhythm section) 1972; revised 1976. Freeport, NY;
Halsco Music. Premiere 1972.
I'm Coming Home (SATB, optional rhythm section accompaniment) 1974. New York; E. B. Marks 1974
Toussaint L'Ouverture-1803 (SATB) 1976 Bryn Mawr, PA; Merion Music, 1979
Two Kids (SATB) 1950 New York; E.B. Marks 1973
Joplin's Dirty Rags (two pianos, ragtime band) 1983 Freeport, NY; Halsco Music
Blood Wedding 1953 Incidental music to the play by Garcia Lorca
Bold New Approach 1966 Incidental documentary film music
Lysistrata 1952 Incidental music to the play by Aristophanes
Nuances of Hale Smith 1968 New York; Sam Fox Music 1968. Television and radio background music. Recorded: Sam Fox SF 1022
Ferma 1951 Incidental music to the play by Garcia Lorca
Breda, Malcolm Joseph, "Hale Smith: A Biographical and Analytical Study of the Man and His Music" Ph.D. diss. University of Southern Mississippi, 1975
Cody, Carlos Bernard. " A Study of Selected Band Compositions of Three Twentieth Century Composers: William Grant Still, Ulysses Kay and Hale Smith" Ph.D. diss. University of Southern Mississippi, 1990
Davis, Mark Hosea "Five Wind/Band Works of Hale Smith and Their Implications for a MultiCultural Curriculum"
Ed.D. diss. Washington University 1994
Long, Jo Harolyn "An Analysis of Representative Compositions by Three Black Composers" M.M thesis. Couthern Methodist University, 1961
Spence, Martha Ellen Blanding "Selected Song Cycles of Three Contemporary Black American Composer: William Grant Still, John Duncan and Hale Smith" Mus.D. thesis, University of Southern Mississippi, 1977
Abdul, Raoul "Hale Smith's Rituals" In Blacks in Classical Music, 42-43 New York, Dodd, Mead 1977
Baker, David N., Lida M. Belt, and Herman C. Hudson, ed.: "Hale Smith" In The Black Composer Speaks, 313-336. Metachen, NY Scarecrow Press, 1978
Caldwell, Hansonia L. "Conversation with Hale Smith: A Man of Many Parts" Black Perspective in Music 3, no. 1
Everett, Thomas Gregory, "Concert Band Music by Black-American Composers: A Selected List"
Black Perspective in Music 6, no. 2 (1978) 143-150
Recent edition of the Institute for Studies in American Music included an article entitled,
"Musical Topics in Hale Smith's 'Evocation'."
"African American Music; The Hidden Tradition" Chicago Symphony Stagebill (spring 1995)
"Black America, 1976" WFLN (Philadelphia, PA) Program Guide (February 1976) 11-12
"Creativity and the Negro" African Forum 1 (Summer 1965); 117-120
"Here I Stand" In Readings in Black American Music, edited by Eileen Southern, 271-278 New York;
W. W. Norton 1971
"Marcel Dick: An Appreciation" In Studies in the Schoenbergian Movement in Vienna and the United States:
Essays in Honor of Marcel Dick, edited by Anne Trenkamp and Hohn G. Seuss, 289-291. Studies in the
History and Interpretation of Music, vol. 25. Lewiston, NY Edwin Mellen Press, 1990
"Music, American Music, African-American Music, and Indivisible Unity" Keynote Speech delivered by Hale Smith
at the 1993 Unisys African-American Composers Forum and Symposium, April 30, 1993
"Paul Robeson, Civil Rights Activist: An Opinion" Black Music Research Bulletin, 12, no. 1 (1990) 7-9
"A Personal Remembrance of William Grant Still and His Significance for Other African-American Composers" Program booklet, Still Going On conference, St. Augustine's College, 1995
Program notes, "African Portraits" by Hannibal Peterson, Chicago Symphony Orchestra Program Notes,
May 4, 1995
Program notes, The Mystery School: Music For Wind Quintet, India Navigation, IN-1046
Forward, "Musical Landscapes in Color" by William Banfield, Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2003
Photo by Marcel Smith
Kathleen Battle, Jessye Norman, Hilda Harris, Natalie Hinderas, Ahmad Jamal, Eric Dolphy,
Richard Heard, Karen Walwyn, Nancy Voight, Louise Toppin, Helene Williams, Mark Husey,
Joe Lovano, Judi Silvano, Betty Carter, Chico Hamilton, John Coltrane, Gigi Gryce,
Gay Crosse Band, Oliver Nelson
New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Louisville Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Sinfonietta,
Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Slovenic Symphony Orchestra,
American Composers Orchestra, Boston Musica Viva,
Northwestern University Symphonic Wind Ensemble,
Alexandria Choral Society, University of Minnesota Concert Band Ensemble,
Long Island Composers Alliance, Sea Cliff Chamber Players
Kulas Choir and Chamber Orchestra
NPR broadcast the l998 Martin Luther King memorial concert at Morehouse College,
featuring the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra performing Hale's orchestration of
Nathaniel Detts' "Chariot Jubilee" (for soloist and chorus)
Hale Smith has received several honors including:
- The Cleveland Arts Prize
- a prize from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters
- Outstanding Achievement from the Black Music Caucus of MENC
- Board Member: American Composers Alliance, Composers Recordings Inc.
- Director: American Music Center
- Honorary Doctorate Degree: Cleveland Institute of Music
- Freeport Arts Council: Co-founder, former President and Chairman of the Board
- ARTY (Arts Recognition Award) recipient from the Long Island Arts Council at Freeport
- The Smithsonian Institute sent two fellows to interview Hale for a week, making about l5 cassettes of Hale's narrative about everything.
Hale was appointed to the New York Council on the Arts by Governor Mario Cuomo in 1993.
[ click on cover art for more information ] Keystone Winds - recorded "Take a Chance" (to be released summer 2003)
Florida A&M Band - recorded "Trinal Dance"
(at the College Band Directors National Association meeting in Atlanta - 1997)
American Wind Symphony Orchestra - recorded "Abide With Me" and "Castle House Rag"
("Castle House Rag" used in the documentary, "The Making of Citizen Kane.")
Links to Other Resources: Hale Smith Interview with Bruce Duffie on WBEZ - 1987
American Composers Orchestra: Ritual & Incantations
Marilyn & Hale (March 2002)
To the MARILYN HARRIS Site