American Originals: A New World, A New Canon

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: SEPTEMBER 7, 2021: Acis presents American Originals: A New World, A New Canon featuring countertenor REGINALD L. MOBLEY and AGAVE in a new album of overlooked works by composers of color. Recognizing that the classical music we all inherited is predominantly white and European, Agave boldly responds to this extraordinary moment of cultural change with a new canon for a new world.

Acis’ founder, GRAMMY®-nominated producer GEOFFREY SILVER: “From the opening track, Resignation, by African-American composer Florence Price (1887–1953), we get a taste of the depth of experience and American talent that has yet to be tapped and brought into the mainstream, and glimpse the tragedy that these composers were not given equal access to career opportunities in their lifetimes.” SILVER continues, “I think it’s important to recognize that in common with every aspect of a society, when people are passed over for growth and advancement by racial segregation or institutional sexism (or both), we all suffer from cultural malnutrition. Price was in fact the first black woman to have her symphonic compositions played by an American orchestra (1933), but it is only 70 years after her death that she is now gaining the exposure she so richly deserves. Acis is proud to be one of several cultural organizations to celebrate and promote her talent. As soloist Reggie Mobley articulates in his program note, classical music is not a zero-sum game: we can have the Mozart, Beethoven, Copland and Gershwin that we love, and also Florence Beatrice Price, Esteban Salas y Castro, Scott Joplin, Manuel de Zumaya, José Mauricio Nuñes Garcia, Justin Holland, et. al. who represent four centuries of overlooked American composers. When we permit our national cultural experience to be richer, our cultural expression and our national identity are more in alignment, and everyone benefits. It is time for a new canon for a new world. #blm”

REGINALD L. MOBLEY (countertenor) began his career with the twice GRAMMY®-nominated ensemble Seraphic Fire and now appears courtesy of CLB Management. In addition to being a frequent collaborator with AGAVE, he has performed with Academy of Ancient Music, Bach Collegium San Diego, Calgary Symphony, Monteverdi Choir & English Baroque Soloists, Pacific MusicWorks, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, and Boston’s Handel + Haydn Society, where after two hundred years and a month before the murder of George Floyd, the Society hired him to assist them in “un-whitewashing” their programs of classical music (Boston Globe, April 3, 2020).

AGAVE is “an energized, free-spirited group” (Early Music America) represented exclusively by Schwalbe and Partners, Inc. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, AGAVE specializes in chamber music of the seventeenth throughthe twentieth centuries. Now in their fourteenth season, they have been finalists in the NAXOS/EMA RecordingCompetition, and the EMA Baroque Performances Competition, performed for the Berkeley Early Music Festival, ensemble-in-residence at the inaugural Presidio Sessions, at UCLA’s Chamber Music at the Clark Library, Los Angeles, for San Francisco Early Music Society, at Sonoma Bach, SF Music Day, and many others. The performers are AARON WESTMAN (violin, viola, co-dir), ANNA WASHBURN (violin), KATHERINE KYME (violin), WILLIAM SKEEN (cello), KEVIN COOPER (guitar), HENRY LEBEDINSKY (organ, piano, co-dir.).

DROPBOX full album, printwork: ALBUM COVER ART:

Romare Bearden, “The Piano Lesson: Homage to Mary Lou,” 1984 © 2021 Romare Bearden Foundation / Licensed by VAGA/ARS, NY

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