Simon Rattle to give African American premiere

Unnoticed by local media, Simon Rattle will be giving the UK premiere this weekend of Sinfonia No 4, ‘Strands’ by George Walker, the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize for Music, which he did in 1996.

Rattle calls the work ‘deeply felt, extraordinarily well put together and absolutely his own voice.

The concert is with audience at LSO St Lukes and on Marquee online.

Walker died two years ago, aged 96.


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  • Why does this have to be an “African American” premiere? It is a piece being premiered in the UK!!!!!! Take race out of this!!!

  • George Walker was a terrific composer whose “Lyric for Strings” gets a decent amount of play by U.S. orchestras but few have delved much deeper into his oeuvre. “Lilacs,” for soprano and orchestra, is the piece for which he won the Pulitzer, and it’s lovely. Good for Sir Simon to do something his colleagues on the other side of the pond should have been doing for a while.

  • “Strands” was given its premiere by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. (Walker made his home in Montclair.) Saw him once in Philadelphia, in 2009, at the premiere of his Violin Concerto, written for his son. The orchestra also performed “Lilacs,” his Pulitzer Prize winner, that season. “Lyric for Strings” is his big hit, and deservedly so. He certainly knew his craft.

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