Music Without Borders June 29, 2008 – Long Beach Museum of Latin American Art

In June 2008, with the help of a grant from the Arts Council for Long Beach, John produced “Music Without Borders” concert at the Long Beach Museum of Latin American Art. The free concert featured chamber and vocal music of Carlos Chavez and William Grant Still performed by the Original Angeles Players(string quartet), Amber Mercomes (soprano), and Evangeline Seward (Piano). “The concert was an opportunity to heighten awareness of neglected significant contributors to the world of classical music and bring different cultures together”.

An overlooked sound in classical music

 By Greg Mellen Staff Writer
POSTED: | Online link:

LONG BEACH – When John Malveaux first conceived of Music Untold, he wanted to find a way to expose listeners to the music of overlooked ethnic classical composers and have their works performed by similarly overlooked musicians.

The first exhibit of that vision will be displayed at a free concert titled “Music Without Borders” today at

3 p.m. at the Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Ave.

“Persons of African and Mexican descent are often excluded from (classical) music textbooks and curricula,” Malveaux says.

Although the music is a primarily European art form, Malveaux notes, “before Mozart there were significant contributions by people of color. We want to heighten the contributions to classical music beyond the standard well-known European contributors.”

The composers featured will be trailblazers Carlos Chavez and William Grant Still.

Chavez was one of the most important musical figures in Mexican classical music in the 20th century. The founder and director of the Mexican Symphonic Orchestra, he was hailed for incorporating indigenous Mexican Indian music into his pieces.

Chavez won acclaim posthumously when two of his works were played by Southwest Chamber Music and won Grammys in 2003 and 2004.

Still is called the “dean” of African-American composers. He began his career as an arranger of jazz before turning to classical music.

His “Afro-American Symphony” became the first such piece performed in the U.S. by a major orchestra when the Rochester Philharmonic played it in 1931.

Still reached another first in 1936 when he conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and became the first African-American to conduct a major American orchestra.

In 1949, his “Troubled Island” was performed by the New York City Opera and was the first African-American opera put on by a major company.

The music of Still and Chavez will be performed by The Angeles Players string quartet, an African-American group, with black soprano Amber Mercomes and pianist Evangeline Seward.

In 1982, four classically trained musicians got together in the garage studio of Mark Cargill to form The Angeles Players. Although some of the players have changed, the group has performed in the Southland for more than 20 years, playing string quartet and chamber music at church functions and weddings, conventions and concerts.

The group will play from Chavez’s “String Quartet No. 1” and Still’s “Dances of Panama.”

Mercomes is an emerging soprano who was recently accepted to perform at the Operafestival di Roma in Italy.

Seward is a pianist, composer and chorale conductor who, among her credits, prepared the Compton College Choir for a performance with other colleges at Carnegie Hall in New York.

Mercomes will sing Chavez’s “Nocturna Rosa” and Still’s ” ‘Tis Sunset in the Garden.” She will also perform “The Breath of a Rose,” a 1924 Langston Hughes poem that Still set to music and the Negro spiritual “Were You There.”

In addition to accompanying Mercomes, Seward will play Still’s “Summerland.”

For information, call 562-437-1689.


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.