Early Music Society of the Islands presents Mozart and Le Mozart Noir February 5 2017. Preview.

Early Music Society of the Islands presents Mozart and Le Mozart Noir February 5 2017. Preview.
(Media Release)

Celebrating Black History Month, EMSI rediscovers works by Chevalier de Saint-Georges:
The first star classical composer of African ancestry

Victoria, BC Early Music Society of the Islands (EMSI) embarks on another Northwest Baroque Masterworks project in collaboration with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra (PBO), the Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Portland Baroque Orchestra, and Early Music Vancouver to present Mozart and Le Mozart Noir at the Alix Goolden Hall, Victoria Conservatory of Music on February 5, 2017 at 3pm. An almost forgotten figure in musical history, Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier Saint-Georges was the son of a slave who overcame adversities of class, race, and prejudice to become a major musical star across 18th century Europe. Works by Mozart and Haydn share the programme to illuminate parallels in quality, concept and complexity in Saint-Georges’ work.

“In honour of Black History Month, we are thrilled to present the music of Saint-Georges,” says James Young, Artistic Director of EMSI. “In his extraordinary lifetime, he dazzled Parisian society with his brilliant compositions, was praised as ‘Le Mozart Noir’ and yet, two hundred years later, his music does not get the recognition it deserves. We are certain audiences will delight in discovering this inspiring composer’s exquisite works.”

Joseph BOulogne Chevalier de St George EMSI Feb 5 2017

Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745 – 1799) was a champion fencer, virtuoso violinist, accomplished composer, and conductor of the leading orchestra in Paris. Born in Guadeloupe to a wealthy plantation owner and one of his African slaves, Saint-Georges was recognized by his father, receiving the family name and the best possible education.

When Saint-Georges was fourteen years old, the family returned from the colonies to Paris, where he then spent six years at La Boëssiére’s Royal Academy of Arms, beginning a trajectory that would establish him not just as the leading violinist of his time but as a champion fencer throughout Europe and as a respected military commander in the Revolution.

Saint-Georges received the highest tributes and accolades from the greatest composers of the era and assumed leadership of the revered ‘Concert des Amateurs’ orchestra in 1773. In 1775 he was even considered for the position of Music Director at Paris Opéra but failed to receive it after several leading ladies petitioned Marie Antoinette, stating “their honour… and conscience made it impossible for them to be subjected to the orders of a mulatto.”

Sadly, Saint-Georges had to abandon his musical career with the advent of the French Revolution but his extraordinary life continued as he led a hundred-strong troop of black soldiers who fought for equality for all men.

The programme will feature two sets of concerti by Saint-Georges, a concerto by Leclair, and symphonies byMozart and Haydn. The Haydn composition is one of the Paris Symphonies (Number 85 “La Reine”), which Saint-Georges himself directed at its 1787 world premiere. Special guest and revered violinist Monica Huggett will join PBO as soloist for two of the concerti.

Listen to samples of his music HERE:

Early Music Society of the Islands presents:
Mozart and Le Mozart Noir
Date: Sunday, February 5, 2017 at 3pm
Address: Alix Goolden Hall, Victoria Conservatory of Music
907 Pandora Avenue
Victoria, BC V8V 3P4
Ticket Prices: From $26 (member subscription) to $35
Box Office: earlymusicsocietyoftheislands.ca or 250-386-6121

ABOUT THE EARLY MUSIC SOCIETY OF THE ISLANDS (earlymusicsocietyoftheislands.ca)

Based in Victoria, BC, the Early Music Society of the Islands (EMSI) is one of North America’s most active and successful Early Music organizations. It was founded in 1985 to promote interest in historically-informed performances of works composed before 1800. EMSI presents an annual concert series of music from the Middle Ages to the Early Classical from its home concert venue, the beautiful Alix Goolden Performance Hall.

Each concert spotlights internationally-acclaimed performers of period music. The Society offers an early music bursary, arranges master classes with visiting artists, promotes the concerts of local musicians, and makes its period instruments available to the community.


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