March is the month where we as a nation recognize and applaud the contributions of women to events in history. Composer Margaret Bonds constantly made history throughout her life. Born in Chicago on March 3rd 1913, she showed great musical talent early. At age 16 she was admitted to Northwestern University where she completes her Bachelor of Music and her Master of Music degrees in piano and composition. In 1933 at the age of 20, she is the first African-American soloist to perform with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. (Concertino for Piano and Orchestra-Carpenter)
As a composer, pianist, teacher and arranger Bonds was a collaborator. Whether it be popular music, ballets or music for the theatre. Between the 1930’s and 1960’s she met and worked closely with Harlem Renaissance Poet Langston Hughes on a large body of work. She is perhaps best remembered for her popular arrangements of African-American Spirituals.
Listen to Leontyne Price sing Margaret Bonds’ This little light of mine from the White House 1978.
(arranged for Price in 1969.)
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Today, June 24th, marks the fiftieth anniversary of Detroit Pride, a milestone that we are also celebrating at Detroit Opera!