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Classically Black -€“ A Night At The Symphony

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By Chris Levister –

On a hot night in Milan, Italy, in 2006 Eldred Marshall captivated the sold out house as he always does. All eyes were on the then 25-year-old musical prodigy performing some of the most difficult works in the piano literature, including Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier Sonata” and Debussy’s “Images Book 1.”

Eldred is more than a mere virtuoso with elastic hands and dazzling dexterity. He is also a spellbinding performer with a flair for drama – strutting, swooning and wrapping his audience around his 10 nimble fingers.

The critically acclaimed artist has performed internationally: Spain, Italy and the Republic of San Marino. A landmark in his career was to become the first Black pianist to perform the entire cycle of 32 piano sonatas of Beethoven in public, from memory, as a concentrated series. In the fall and winter of 2007, he performed the feat in Portland, Oregon. In the winter and spring of 2008, he repeated the series in San Francisco.

Eldred began studying the piano at age 6, and the precocious young artist performed his first public concert at age 7. His prodigious and inquisitive mind allowed him to master large swaths of the piano repertoire quickly all the while consistently winning top prizes at the competitions he entered as a child. By 16, he debuted with an orchestra, playing Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto.

At age 10, he remembers being inspired to become a concert pianist after seeing the renowned Andre Watts perform in Pasadena.

“It was love at first sight. I knew I wanted to do that,” said Eldred, who also studied at the University of Salamanca in Spain.

“I love the intimacy, the tension and excitement of taking an audience on a journey through the internal emotions and spiritual experiences of a masterful work. You become the interpreter – It’s cathartic.”

Eldred, whose roots spring from a musical family, may have been a prodigy in his home town of Rialto, but said his parents Eldred and Deidre if you want to play on the world stage you’ve got to get out of town first. Following his high school graduation the young Eldred IV set off to Yale majoring in political science, music and Spanish. While at Yale he directed the award winning Yale Gospel Choir for two years.

By the time he graduated with honors, he had already mesmerized audiences all over the United States.

The 1999 Eisenhower High School salutatorian is more than just a supremely talented musician he is also a change agent who wants to broaden classical music’s appeal while acknowledging the gains minorities have made in the genre.

As a young Black pianist growing up in Rialto, it did not escape Eldred that no performers and very few audience members at classical music concerts looked like him.

Eldred envisions his brainchild ‘Classically Black – A Night at the Symphony’ will open the door to a world in which classical music reflects cultural diversity. “My dream is to become a catalyst to help overcome the cultural stereotype of classical music.”

Sunday October 18 the gala concert and fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club of San Bernardino will showcase professional and novice African-American classical musicians.

I want to challenge everyone who ever said, ‘You don’t see more Blacks and Hispanics in orchestras because the musicians are just not out there’. “I want to prove that they are out there; they just need to be identified, encouraged and rewarded.”

“In these challenging times, arts programs in the schools and traditional music institutions are facing drastic cuts or elimination,” said Boys & Girls Club of San Bernardino Board Chairman Rikke Van Johnson. The fundraiser and Marshall collaboration aims to fill the education gap by administering youth development initiatives in minority communities through music education, increasing the participation of Blacks and Latinos in music schools, as professional musicians and composers and cultivate classical music audiences.

For example, most are not likely to know of the approximately 500 Black classical music composers spanning several centuries and continents.

In addition, there have been ground breaking Black professional musicians such as acclaimed violinist Aaron Dworkin in major professional orchestras since the 1960s, said Marshall.

“Though it has been extremely limited, Black composers and musicians have been heard in our symphony halls since the early 1900s.

This overall lack of awareness encompasses our entire society.”

In America, early Black classical performers were discriminated against and had to leave the country to perform in Europe, explains Marshall.

Singers like Elizabeth Taylor-Garfield, the ‘Black Swan’ performed in London between1850-1860. In the 1950 & 1960, with the color bar well in place, the only way for singers like Marian Anderson to make her debut was to do recital work. It was viewed at that time as the quickest way to succeed. Hence Anderson, who was the first Black person to perform at the New York Met, skillfully incorporated a fusion of Negro spiritual and classical music into her repertoire.

It is now well over forty years since the historical occasion in 1963, when Anderson performed to over 75,000 people on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.

“I envision young people bringing to the study of classical music their own history and cultural background, which then informs the music itself in new and vital ways thus having a lasting effect on the classical music of tomorrow,” said Eldred.

Classically Black – A Night at the Symphony is sponsored by the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra, Assembly Member Wilmer Carter, San Bernardino City Economic Development Agency, National Council of Negro Women and the Boys & Girls Club of San Bernardino.

Historic Healthcare Plan Clears Key Senate Hurdle

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By BVN Staff –

Historic legislation to expand U.S. health care and control costs won its first Republican supporter Tuesday and cleared a key Senate hurdle, a double-barreled triumph that propelled President Barack Obama’s signature issue toward votes this fall in both houses of Congress.

“When history calls, history calls,” said Maine Republican Olympia Snowe whose declaration of support ended weeks of suspense and provided the only drama of a 14-9 vote in the Senate Finance Committee.

With her decision, the 62-year-old lawmaker bucked her own leadership on the most high-profile issue of the year in Congress, and gave the drive to remake health care at least a hint of the bipartisanship that Obama seeks.

At the White House, Obama called the events “a critical milestone” toward remaking the nation’s health care system. He praised Snowe as well as Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the committee, and declared, “We are going to get this done.”

There were fresh challenges. Within minutes of the vote, labor unions and large business organizations both demanded changes in the bill, which was an attempt at a middle-of-the-road measure fashioned by the committee under Baucus’ leadership.

Still, nearly nine months after the president pledged in his Inaugural Address to tackle health care, legislation to expand coverage to millions who lack it has now advanced further than President Bill Clinton’s ill-fated effort more than a decade ago - or any other attempt in more than a generation.

The next move in the Senate is up to Majority Leader Harry Reid, whose office said the full Senate would begin debate on the issue the week of Oct. 26.

So Cal Fair –Traditions New and Old

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New fangled gizmos and widgets. Old fashioned quilts and fluffy cotton candy.

Different images come to mind when you hear the word “fair”. Regardless of what images come to your mind, the Southern California has it all. From traditions like jams, jellies, corn dogs and tractors to more modern things like scrapbook pages, websites, Euro Bungees and the newest deep fried concoction the fair is a place the whole family will enjoy.

Maybe your family comes to the fair every year to enjoy the entertainment and fabulous shopping. Or maybe you came out as a kid with your parents or grandparents and watched the demolition derby or livestock shows. With the amazingly low cost and incredible value, the fair is a tradition your family should continue to enjoy or start enjoying now!

You won’t find a better way to stretch your entertainment dollar then the Southern California Fair. For the low price of admission – you get all the arena shows, all the family acts, all the exhibits, all the displays, all the livestock shows, all the music, all the opportunities to shop for the truly unique, all the contests and so much more. It’s a fantastic way to spend time with your family without breaking the bank.

So whether the fair is a long time family tradition or you’re new to the experience, make plans now to attend the Inland Empire’s best entertainment bargain The Southern California Fair runs October 10th through 18th.

For more information about the fair please visit the website at socalfair.com or call the fair office at 951-657-4221.

Linking with Art: Focus on Children and Creativity

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The Linking with Art show sponsored by the San Bernardino Valley Links, Inc. in collaboration with the African American Historical Society and the Inland Empire African American Chamber of Commerce was held on Saturday, October 3rd at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Jalani Bakari. There were over sixty African masked made by children.

This is a new program started by Margo Thomas, Chairman of the San Bernardino Valley Links art facet. Thomas a prominent artist in the area along with co-chairman Maryion Thompson Williams’ principal of Georgia Morris Elementary School in Rialto worked with students in the San Bernardino, Rialto and Riverside school district teaching the art of mask making.

Thomas remarked, “when we saw the smiles on the faces of the children as they viewed their completed masked at the art show, we knew the time and effort put into the program was more than well worth it.”

Other artists participating at the show was BerniE, Shannaa Fannell, Charles Knox, Diana Shannon and Margo Thomas.

Making Social Changes in the Community

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The From Pistols 2 Pencils Project is holding an orientation, open enrollment and discussion with parents, students, the community and leaders on the opportunity to make social changes on anti-gang and gun violence in the city of San Bernardino on October 23, 2009 at Young Visionaries, 1616 N. “D” Street, San Bernardino beginning at 7:00 p.m.

This orientation is open to all high school students living in the San Bernardino area and is a free program.

Students that attend the orientations and enroll in this project will:

· Attend an annual youth violence prevention/intervention leaders training retreat

· Help establish a youth and parent violence prevention council

· Attend community organizing and advocacy training with Congregations Organized for

Prophet Engagement (C.O.P.E.)

· Attend creative writing workshops through The Let’s Write Out Loud Program

· Have an opportunity to assume leadership roles by making a significant contribution to the project and make money

· Development a Pistols 2 Pencils on-line newsletter, a public television talk show, create youtube’s and commercials, as well as participate in showcases, radio shows and concerts focusing on the effects of gun and gang violence in their community while offering positive alternatives Young Visionaries Youth Organizer, Monette Miles is recruiting youth alone with Young Visionaries CEO Terrance Stone and the San Bernardino Countywide Gangs and Drugs Task Force Coordinator Kimberly Epps.

“This project will empower youth through skill building and training to be local leaders.”

Terrance Stone noted, “This is an important issue that needs to be on the minds of everyone-youth, parents, politicians, you name it.”

Don’t miss this life changing opportunity for your community and for the youth that live in it!

Anyone interested in being apart of this project can contact Young Visionaries at (909) 881-3382, via the web: www.yvyla-ie.org or email the Youth Organizer, Monette Miles at mmiles@yvyla-ie.org.

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