Finally the music began. After an hour of speeches by some of the people who helped launch this first National Bank Music Colloquium and Competition, people like Roger Stevens and Livingston Biddle and composer Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson. They spoke about how worthwhile and significant black music and musicians were. But they should have saved their breath, there in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, for the music itself, when it finally got under way, said it all, and much more eloquently.
The program was shared by violinist Sanford Allen and by duo-pianists Wilfred Delphin and Edwin Romain, and each chose music by black composers and from the standard repertoire.
Allen, late of the New York Philharmonic and now on his own as a recital soloist, was well suited to the music he played. His is a big, frank tone, and Hale Smith's rhapsodic "Epicedial Variations" and Roque Cordero's rhythmically strong and masterfully crafted Sonatina were well served by his strengths. The Cordero is a marvelous work, full of good ideas well worked out, attractive and unfailingly interesting.
The piano duo included in their half music by Kerr, Walker and another by Cordero who, in this company, was again a standout.
These performances said, more clearly than the speeches, that there is a splendid body of black music here waiting to be discovered.
The Colloquium events continue throughout this week.