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Julius P. Williams, Jr.

Julius P. Williams is a nationally and internationally known conductor and a professor of composition and conducting at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. A prolific composer, Williams has penned operas and works for orchestras and chamber ensembles and for dance, chorus, musical theatre and film. While he is a classical pianist and composer-conductor, Williams is also a master of jazz, gospel and popular music forms.

Williams was born in Bronx, New York on June 22, 1954. He started playing the drums at age eight, but when his parents begged him to choose another instrument he took up the piano instead. Other instruments, like violin, flute, clarinet, and organ soon followed. He attended public schools in New York City, including the High School for the Performing Arts, from which he graduated in 1972. It was in high school that his musical career blossomed as he took part in the All-City Concert Choir program and studied under masters like jazz drummer Max Roach and French composer-conductor Pierre Boulez. By age 20, he was playing keyboards on tour with the pop group The 5th Dimension.

Williams earned his B.S. degree in music from Herbert Lehman College in 1977 and his M.M.E. degree from the Hartt School of Music. He studied composition with African American musical giants Ulysses Kay and Coleridge Taylor Perkinson. In 1978, he attended the Aspen Music School in Colorado and composed scores for musical theatre productions for the Henry Street Settlement for the Arts in New York.

Williams has conducting experience at venues throughout the United States and the world. While he was music director and conductor of the Washington Symphony Orchestra, he conducted performances at foreign embassies, the National Cathedral and the White House. He opened the 20th annual Tri-C JazzFest in Cleveland by conducting a performance of Duke Ellington's Sacred Music. He debuted at Carnegie Hall when he conducted the inaugural concerts of the Symphony Saint Paulia.

His compositions, which include In Memoriam, September 11, 2001, have been performed by the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra and the Detroit Symphony. Williams, who was once profiled nationally on CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt, is also an accomplished music educator, well-regarded for his informal teaching method. He also co-founded VIDEMUS, a non-profit group which produces and releases the music of under-represented artists and composers.

Williams and his wife Lenora Williams, a doctor, live in Ellington, Connecticut with their three children.

Accession Number

A2005.077

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/24/2005

Last Name

Williams

Maker Category
Middle Name

P

Schools

Andrew Jackson High School

Lehman College

Hartt School of Music

Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts

P.S. 136 Roy Wilkins School

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Depends on Schedule

First Name

Julius

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

WIL25

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Teens, Adults

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $1,000 - $5,000

Favorite Season

Spring

Speaker Bureau Notes

Honorarium Specifics: $1500-3000

Preferred Audience: Teens, Adults

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Europe, Aruba

Favorite Quote

I'm a Black man with dreams and aspirations.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

6/22/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Boston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Steak

Short Description

Music professor, conductor, and music composer Julius P. Williams, Jr. (1954 - ) teaches at the Berklee College of Music. Internationally known, Williams' works have been performed by the New York Philharmonic and the Cleveland Orchestra, among many others. Williams was a music director and conductor of the Washington Symphony Orchestra, has conducted performances at foreign embassies, the National Cathedral and the White House.

Employment

Berklee College of Music

Videmus Records

Favorite Color

Black, Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Julius Williams interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Julius Williams lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Julius Williams talks about his mother and maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Julius Williams discusses his father and his parents' views on his being a musician

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Julius Williams shares stories of his father's upbringing in Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Julius Williams talks about his brother

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Julius Williams talks about his earliest memories and his religious upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Julius Williams recalls his elementary school education

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Julius Williams reflects on his childhood growing up in Queens, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Julius Williams recalls his early family life in Queens, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Julius Williams reflects on his first exposure to music and his junior high school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Julius Williams talks about his boyhood influences in music

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Julius Williams discusses his early musical gigs while in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Julius Williams recalls his high school experiences in Queens, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Julius Williams talks about the sights, smells and sounds of his youth

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Julius Williams talks about entering college and the teachers that influenced him

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Julius Williams talks about his music mentors in college

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Julius Williams discusses his marriage and post-graduate studies

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Julius Williams details his music conducting experiences in Aspen, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Julius Williams details what it takes to be a music conductor

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Julius Williams talks about where he's conducted and where his music was performed

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Julius Williams discusses music arrangement and conducting Duke Ellington's Sacred Service in 1999

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Julius Williams talks about his CD 'Symphonic Brotherhood' featuring African American symphonic music

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Julius Williams discusses the music organization VIDEMUS

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Julius Williams talks about his teaching positions and other highlights in his music career

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Julius Williams discusses his current career interests in the Boston area

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Julius Williams talks about his children and their interests

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Julius Williams reflects on the difficulties of being a symphonic conductor

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Julius Williams talks about film scores he's written and awards he's won

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Julius Williams reflects on his life and advice to African American youth

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Julius Williams considers his artistic goals for future work

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Julius Williams hopes for greater unity in the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Julius Williams considers his values and how he hopes to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

4$2

DATitle
Julius Williams discusses his early musical gigs while in high school
Julius Williams discusses the music organization VIDEMUS
Transcript
You have been playing so long by ear and by sound, you just had the natural feeling to, to get it out. Was it difficult to move from that system to now having to be read the music?$$It was very difficult. It was like--I was telling you the story after the teacher found out that I was just picking up things by ear and not really reading what's on the page, she made me read. You know, I had to struggle.$$That didn't turn you off?$$Well it didn't turn me--Well what happened was when I met, you know, people like John Motley and [Coleridge Taylor] Perkinson and I saw them on stage and you know--a--doing a concert with the Symphony of the New World. And he had, you know--and he came out with this leather suit. And he was conducting the symphony. And I said, "Man! This guy." You know. And then I saw one of his pieces, you know. And then I heard this composition. Then I said, "I wanna--I wanna write music. I wanna be a composer." So in order to write music, you have to be able to read music. So then I kind of just totally did everything I could to learn how to read and write music. I must have just--It was like I immersed myself into it so much. That I did it all day long, all night. I started reading books and, you know. You know, just studying, you know. Just what--.$$(Simultaneously) At that point you knew what you wanted to do--,$$(Simultaneously) Right, right.$$(Simultaneously) --with your life, I think So--.$$(Simultaneously) Right then. By the time I got in--I'd say by the second year of high school I knew what--there was nothing else I was gonna do.$$Had you picked up any other instrument at that point?$$Yeah, I was picking up the violin. Wanted the violin so I started playing the violin. And I--I did that mainly to also boost my reading. But then I kind of, you know. So then I became, you know. You know. Started playing this violin and I'm, you know, playing the instrument (mimes playing violin).$$(Simultaneously) Mm-hmm. Any other instruments that came in?$$Yeah. And then I started playing, you know, clarinet and flute and--you know, what else did I pick? (laughs) You know, trumpet for a while.$$Did you have instruction in these (unclear)?$$Yeah, I took--I took some classes. You know. But I mainly because I wanted to be a composer was concentrating on the piano. And meeting Perkinson and also Dizzy Gillespie. Perkinson introduced me to Dizzy Gillespie. Perkinson introduced me to Dizzy. Well then Dizzy got me, you know, to take some lessons with, you know, with his pianist.$$You're still in high school?$$I was still in high school. So, you know, he got me to take these lessons. You know. So I had all these influences. We were in high school. And in, in high school we were totally into music. Because then (unclear) John Motley--I was one--got into the All City High School Chorus. Then he sort of picked kids who were really talented. And put them in his blue collar all city concert choir. And what we were doing then was we were the kids that would do any dignitaries that would come to New York, you know, from the Shah of Iran. And I remember one time to (unclear) to--We would--They would take us out of school.$$I mean almost every day, every week somebody's--.$$(Simultaneously) Every week somebody's coming to New York.$$Yeah.$$And we'd get to stay. I don't know. I don't remember. My last two years of high school I don't know what went on then. Every week. They would just say--call the school and say, "You know, you have to be at such and such at this time." And we would just get (unclear) train and go.$You're the co-director of is it VIDEMUS?$$VIDEMUS. VIDEMUS.$$VIDEMUS?$$Mm-hmm.$$How do you spell that?$$V-I-D-E-M-U-S.$$Uh-huh. When did you commence this activity? What is that about?$$Well VIDEMUS is a--in fact we're very thriving. It started actually in Boston [Massachusetts]. It started with a company called--I'm losing my train of thought (laughs)--I'll remember in a second. But it started in Boston with a company at--from MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts] under--Vivian Taylor started this company where they would bring African Americans to Boston to do concerts. Chamber concerts of African American music. Then it was taken over by Louise Toppin, who's a singer and moved the company to Louisiana. And when she moved it to Louisiana--Not Louisiana, North Carolina--I'm losing it--North Carolina. She wanted to have--I'm trying to--I'm stalling 'cause I'm trying to remember the name. She moved it to [East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina]--she wanted to create a recording entity in this company. Because, you know, it's music and it would be good to have a recording of African American music. So three of us composers, myself and another composer named William Banfield and Louise Toppin started the company called Visionary Records. And the company is called--It is called VIDEMUS. But the recording company is called Visionary Records. And VIDEMUS became an entity not only for performing and doing concerts, but became an entity for African Americans to have their music heard on CD [compact disc]. And right now, VIDEMUS itself the company has about ten or fifteen records associated with it over the years. And Visionary Records, we're on our third recording or fourth recording. The last recording I made just recently. Not recently--In 2001 was a--was a Visionary Record recording. And we have a new one coming out--That just came out this month on the music of William Grant Still. I didn't conduct it. But I edited the recording. And it's on the market and it's wonderful. So--.$$For those who may not know (unclear) listen to over the years, who was William Grant Still? Can you just give us a quick--?$$Oh. William Grant Still was the Dean of African American composers. He's really was the first African American composer to really--I guess in the white media to be up there with Aaron Copland and some of the great composers of the time. Aaron Copland--American composers--Charles Ives. So he, you know, is known as, you know, William Grant Still is our father of African American (unclear).$$(Simultaneously) What was his period of time period?$$He was in the early, you know, maybe the late '20s [1920s] to about the '60s [1960s], '70s [1970s].

Raymond Jackson

Musical prodigy, concert pianist, and educator Raymond Thompson Jackson, Jr. was born on December 11, 1933 in Providence, Rhode Island. His mother and father were beauticians and ran a successful beauty business out of their Providence home. Many of the shampoos and oils used on clients were hand-made by his mother. Jackson’s musical talent surfaced at an early age, and by the time he was six years old he could play the piano and read music. When he graduated from Hope High School in 1951, in addition to the piano, he played the bass, violin and organ. While at Hope he also was active in the orchestra, the band and the Young Artists Club. He was awarded the Hope Key for his many musical activities and achievements during high school.

From 1951 until 1955, Jackson attended the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. He and fellow classmate, Coretta Scott King, were among a handful of African Americans who attended the Conservatory. Jackson earned a Bachelor’s of Music degree in Piano Performance in 1955. In addition to graduating first in his class he was the recipient of the Conservatory’s highest award, the “George Whitfield Chadwick Medal.” In 1957, Jackson earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Piano from the renowned Julliard School of Music in New York. He went on to receive his Masters of Science and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from Julliard in 1959 and 1973 respectively.

Jackson studied in France at the American Conservatory of Music from 1960 until 1961. After studying in France, he worked as an organist and choir director for several churches in New Jersey until 1973. In 1963, Jackson received a fellowship that allowed him to perform a series of debut piano recitals in Vienna, London, Stockholm, Geneva and Munich. He immediately captured the hearts and applause of European audiences.

In 1970, Jackson began teaching music at the collegiate level as an adjunct professor at The Mannes College of Music in New York City and Concordia College in Bronxville, NY. In 1977, Jackson was offered a faculty position at Howard University, Washington, D.C., where he is a Full Professor and continues to teach piano and serve as Coordinator for student and faculty performances.

Jackson has been the recipient of numerous awards and has won top honors in national and international piano competitions. He was the first African American and musician to be inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame.

Accession Number

A2004.152

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/30/2004

Last Name

Jackson

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Hope High School

Nathan Bishop Middle School

The Juilliard School

New England Conservatory of Music

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Depends on Schedule

First Name

Raymond

Birth City, State, Country

Providence

HM ID

JAC11

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Would like to include music in his presentation specifically piano demonstrations and African American composers. Will tailor musical selections to age and interests of crowd.

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $1,000 - $5,000

Favorite Season

Spring

Speaker Bureau Notes

Honorarium Specifics: $500-1500. Variable according to location, expenses, type of presentation.
Availability Specifics: Also depends on Location
Preferred Audience: Would like to include music in his presentation specifically piano demonstrations and African American composers. Will tailor musical selections to age and interests of crowd.

State

Rhode Island

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

12/11/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pie (Apple)

Short Description

Music professor and pianist Raymond Jackson (1933 - ) is a graduate of the Julliard School of Music in New York and received a fellowship that allowed him to perform a series of debut piano recitals in Vienna, London, Stockholm, Geneva and Munich. Jackson serves as a professor of music at Howard University.

Employment

Mannes College of Music

Concordia College

Howard University

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:213050,2977$0,0:10790,151:20070,373:48358,712:51550,779:64508,895:86680,1123:91185,1180:105666,1417:106021,1423:119978,1550:121441,1573:131066,1735:131451,1741:134980,1746
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Raymond Jackson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Raymond Jackson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Raymond Jackson describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Raymond Jackson recounts his how his mother learned about homemaking and her gift as a beauty culturist

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Raymond Jackson describes his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Raymond Jackson describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Raymond Jackson describes his father's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Raymond Jackson describes his childhood and his love and his beginning with the piano

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Raymond Jackson describes how he comes from a musical family

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Raymond Jackson describes his paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Raymond Jackson describes his earliest childhood memories and the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Raymond Jackson reminisces about his childhood neighborhood in Providence, Rhode Island

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Raymond Jackson describes race relations in Providence, Rhode Island during his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Raymond Jackson talks about Doyle Avenue Elementary School in Providence, Rhode Island

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Raymond Jackson describes his relationship with his disabled sister Addie

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Raymond Jackson recalls his early dreams and love for music

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Raymond Jackson describes his years at Nathan Bishop Middle School and Hope High School in Providence, Rhode Island

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Raymond Jackson describes his extracurricular activities at Hope High School in Providence, Rhode Island

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Raymond Jackson describes his piano teacher and mentor at the New England Conservatory of Music, Jeannette Giguere

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Raymond Jackson describes the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts and compares it to New York City's Julliard School

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Raymond Jackson describes the community of minority students and his achievements at the New England Conservatory of Music

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Raymond Jackson recalls the talent at New York City's Julliard School and its effect on him

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Raymond Jackson describes gaining recognition on the New York City music scene and graduating from the Juilliard School

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Raymond Jackson describes studying music in France and performing throughout Europe as an African American

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Raymond Jackson recalls the positive reception of black artists by European audiences and the differences between today's pianos and those of eighteenth-century Europe

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Raymond Jacksons remembers his performance at the 1965 Marguerite Long Piano Competition

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Raymond Jackson recalls teaching at the Mannes College of Music in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Raymond Jackson explains his decision to teach at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Raymond Jackson reflects upon student attitudes at Howard University about music careers

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Raymond Jackson describes his mission to educate African Americans about classical music

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Raymond Jackson describes what it takes to prepare for a successful recital

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Raymond Jackson reflects on the importance of training, practice and theory to music

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Raymond Jackson describes the role of music and arts in schools

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Raymond Jackson describes the women who have impacted his life and career, including his mother, his teachers, and Josephine Heathman

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Raymond Jackson reflects upon his life, his plans, and what he would do differently

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Raymond Jackson talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Raymond Jackson reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Raymond Jackson gives advice for aspiring musicians and describes what he likes about the piano and the organ

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Raymond Jackson narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

7$4

DATitle
Raymond Jackson recalls the talent at New York City's Julliard School and its effect on him
Raymond Jackson explains his decision to teach at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Transcript
And so, how did Julliard [The Julliard School, New York City, New York] come about?$$Julliard it was sort of like you had to go to the next level. The teacher that I mentioned Jeannette Giguere said, "Now you've--you've got to go to Julliard. You've got to study with Beveridge Webster." Now Beveridge Webster used to be on the faculty at the conservatory [New England Conservatory of Music, Boston, Massachusetts]. And so he was a specialist in French music. And so with her recommendation I went to Julliard. And I'll never forget the first meeting of incoming students and you go into that great big room, all of these students from all over the world coming from Europe, from all over America aspiring to be performers or great musicians or composers or whatever. And very impersonal. I mean you just knew no one, no one. And the president at that time of Julliard was William Schuman who was a very distinguished composer. And I'll never forget the first thing that he said, because I felt oh, I'm from the New England Conservatory. I graduated first in my class and I got this medal you know I'm--I'm gonna be hot stuff here at Julliard. The first thing he said, "I don't care"--he said that to the group--"I don't care where you are from, how many honors you have, what your background is, here at Julliard you are nothing until you prove who you are." I said, "Woah" (laughter). That--he must have picked up something from me because I grew to understand exactly what he meant.$$And could it have been also that many of your classmates were also coming from environments where they had achieved so much as well.$$They--they--they have--they had. Because the level--(simultaneous)$$The best of the best.$$The best of the best. The level of the Julliard student was incredible. You know, I--I thought I played the piano well until I got to Julliard, then I began to see oh, my God. This is unbelievable, the level. And it was--it was not like one or two that were outstanding. There were just hosts and hosts of wonderful pianists, wonderful violinists. And the level of--of training was so much more intensive. And the expectation was so much higher. And so you really worked. So I went from being an A student at the conservatory, to a C student at Julliard. And I really had to work very, very hard to be an A student at Julliard. But I'm grateful for that because it took the blinders off. It took off the--the protective veneer that--when in growing up in Providence [Rhode Island] in which you were everybody's darling. You were everybody's special talented little professor who was going to go on to be a big success in the world. You suddenly realized that you had to really earn those medals. And so I became a much stronger pianist. A much better artist. A much better student. And much more perceptive student because my ears were enlarged. My thoughts were enlarged. My eyes were--my vision was enlarged. All of that made me a much better--really prepared me.$And tell us a little bit about how the opportunity at Howard University [Washington, District of Columbia] came about in 1977?$$Well, two years before that in '75 [1975] I had performed at the National Gallery in--(simultaneous)$$In Washington, D.C.?$$--in--here in Washington. And one of the faculty members of the music faculty at Howard, Dr. George Winfield, was in the audience and he remembered my performance and when there was opening at Howard in the music department, I think they were looking for not only a faculty member but a chairperson of the--of the Department of Music, he called me and asked if I would be interested. And at that time I--I was not. So it was two years later that he called and said that there was another opening, would I be interested. And at that time in 1977 I thought maybe it's the time to make a move because I felt that my career needed to be expanded. That Howard would provide a base for being introduced to a--a larger arena. Not the New York one, not the largest arena. But New York was--it was more difficult to--to establish certain expansive characteristics of your career. That would easier in um in--in Washington area where the competition was--was not quite as fierce. The opportunities--you could create more of your own opportunities, at least I felt that way in Washington. I could use a university as a base to branch out to touch other schools, to perform at other schools, to give lectures and recitals and--and master classes, things like that which ultimately did happen. So I--I would be invited to a number of schools throughout Virginia and North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Pennsylvania. So I--I played in a lot of those places. And so Howard was a good base for doing that.

H. Leslie Adams

Composer, pianist, educator and arts advocate H. Leslie Adams, was born in Cleveland, Ohio on December 30, 1932. Adams attended the Cleveland public schools and graduated from Glenville High School. He studied voice, piano, and composition at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, where he earned his bachelor’s of music degree in 1955. He went on to earn a master’s degree in music from the California State University at Long Beach in 1967 and his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in 1973. He also completed additional studies in composition with Edward Mattila, Eugene O’Brien, and Marcel Dick from 1978 to 1983.

Adams has worked as piano accompanist for ballet and other dance companies and choral music ensembles. He served as the associate musical director at Cleveland’s Karamu House from 1964 to 1965 and became the musical director for the Kaleidoscope Players in Ration, New Mexico in 1967. Adams later returned to Karamu House as their composer in residence in 1979 and then served as guest composer at Cuyahoga Community College in 1980. He then served as composer-in-residence at the Cleveland Music School Settlement from 1981 to 1982, and was the founder and president of Accord Associates, Inc. for six years beginning in 1980, and the executive vice-president and composer-in-residence for Accord from 1986 to 1992. He has served as the president and artist-in-residence for Creative Arts, Inc. since 1997.

Adams held teaching positions at Soehl Junior High School, Linden, N.J., in the secondary schools of Raton, New Mexico, Florida A & M University, and at the University of Kansas at Lawrence. He is the recipient of numerous commissions, including those from the Ohio Chamber Orchestra, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, the University of Kansas, and the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra. He is the recipient of honors and awards from the National Association of Negro Women, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Cleveland Foundation and the Jennings Foundation, among others.

He holds life memberships in Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Phi Delta Kappa, Pi Kappa Lambda, the American Choral Directors Association, and the American Guild of Organists. He has also served on the Advisory Council of the Musical Arts Association of the Cleveland Orchestra.

Adams resides in Cleveland’s Glenville Community.

H. Leslie Adams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 17, 2004.

Accession Number

A2004.081

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/17/2004

Last Name

Adams

Maker Category
Middle Name

Leslie

Organizations
Schools

Empire School

Glenville High School

Miles Standish Elementary School

Oberlin College

California State University, Long Beach

The Ohio State University

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Depends on Schedule

First Name

Harrison

Birth City, State, Country

Cleveland

HM ID

ADA05

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $1,000 - $5,000

Favorite Season

Winter

Speaker Bureau Notes

Additional Documentation in Wid-West and West Coast SB, Front Office.September through mid-June: Everyday except Thursday and Sunday; mid-June through August: Everyday except Sunday. If he participates in a Saturday event, he would need to return to Cleveland by Sunday morning-- by 10 AM from fall-spring, and by 9 AM in the summer.

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Lily Dale, New York

Favorite Quote

Let There Be Joy.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Birth Date

12/30/1932

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Cleveland

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Music professor and music composer H. Leslie Adams (1932 - ) founded and served in the capacities of president, executive vice president and composer-in-residence for Accord Associates, Inc., and has served as the president and artist-in-residence for Creative Arts, Inc. since 1997. He has held numerous teaching appointments, including Florida A & M University and the University of Kansas at Lawrence.

Employment

Karamu House

Kaleidoscope Players

Cuyahoga Community College

Cleveland Music School Settlement

Accord Associates

Creative Arts

Soehl Junior High School

Florida A&M University

University of Kansas

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of H. Leslie Adams' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - H. Leslie Adams lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - H. Leslie Adams talks about his mother and her education at Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - H. Leslie Adams describes his mother's experiences as a domestic worker

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - H. Leslie Adams talks about his father, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - H. Leslie Adams talks about his father, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - H. Leslie Adams gives a timeline of his parents' courtship and talks about growing up as an only child

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - H. Leslie Adams talks about his elementary and secondary schooling in Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - H. Leslie Adams recalls teachers who supported his musical development

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - H. Leslie Adams remembers his parents' and teachers' support for his interest in pursuing music

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - H. Leslie Adams talks about his appreciation for varied music and movies

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - H. Leslie Adams describes his admissions audition for Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - H. Leslie Adams describes courses he took at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio and the atmosphere on campus

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - H. Leslie Adams talks about lessons he learned about composition from Herbert Elwell at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - H. Leslie Adams talks about his religious upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - H. Leslie Adams recalls attending chapel and the political climate at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - H. Leslie Adams describes his worldview, having been raised in a racially harmonious community

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - H. Leslie Adams describes the quality of his education at Glenville High School in Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - H. Leslie Adams recalls his childhood holiday traditions

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - H. Leslie Adams talks about working during his breaks from college and his mother's work as a crossing guard

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - H. Leslie Adams talks about a cousin who was prolific in the arts, Frederick O'Neal

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - H. Leslie Adams recalls moving to New York, New York after graduating from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - H. Leslie Adams talks about teaching music in Linden, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - H. Leslie Adams describes what attracted him to New York, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - H. Leslie Adams talks about returning to Cleveland, Ohio to play for Karamu House

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - H. Leslie Adams recalls his move to southern California for graduate school at California State College at Long Beach

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - H. Leslie Adams talks about a single-performance production that he conceived of and directed as a student at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - H. Leslie Adams talks about his projects after completing his M.A. degree

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - H. Leslie Adams talks about incorporating social issues and figures into his compositions

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - H. Leslie Adams talks about teaching vocal music in Raton, New Mexico

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - H. Leslie Adams talks about restructuring the vocal music program in Raton, New Mexico and producing a Christmas concert

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - H. Leslie Adams talks about his method for working with choirs

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - H. Leslie Adams talks about leaving Raton, New Mexico to work as musical director for 'Lost in the Stars'

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - H. Leslie Adams describes his experience as a Ph.D. student at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - H. Leslie Adams talks about courses he took with Keith Mixter as a Ph.D. student at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - H. Leslie Adams talks about his musical journey and his support systems

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - H. Leslie Adams talks about his dissertation

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - H. Leslie Adams talks about being hired to teach at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - H. Leslie Adams talks about concerts he staged while teaching at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas and finishing his dissertation

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - H. Leslie Adams talks about going to Italy while on sabbatical, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - H. Leslie Adams talks about going to Italy while on sabbatical, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - H. Leslie Adams talks about his decision to become a full-time composer in 1979

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - H. Leslie Adams talks about returning to Cleveland, Ohio to work on an opera and participating in Yaddo artists retreat in Saratoga Springs, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - H. Leslie Adams details the storyline of his opera, 'Blake'

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - H. Leslie Adams talks about Accord Associates

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - H. Leslie Adams talks about how his music is disseminated

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - H. Leslie Adams talks about how the launch of Sputnik 1 shifted the focus away from arts education

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - H. Leslie Adams talks about his reticence to seek governmental support for his compositions and how he follows the news

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - H. Leslie Adams talks about his creative process

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - H. Leslie Adams offers advice to young composers and expresses worry about the effects of loud music on hearing

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - H. Leslie Adams explains why he participated in The HistoryMakers interview and reflects upon how religious traditions are built

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - H. Leslie Adams talks about progress towards LGBTQ and women's rights

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - H. Leslie Adams reflects upon his life philosophy and what he tries to convey in his music

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - H. Leslie Adams performs one of his own compositions

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - H. Leslie Adams narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - H. Leslie Adams narrates his photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

3$7

DATitle
H. Leslie Adams recalls moving to New York, New York after graduating from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio
H. Leslie Adams details the storyline of his opera, 'Blake'
Transcript
I mean, I--short periods of time, short order cook (laughter), typist, clerk typist. Then I ended up with, with playing piano for ballet classes, the June Taylor School of Dance [New York, New York]. June [Taylor] had just won her Emmy for 'The Jackie Gleason Show.' She had it sitting there on the desk as you come in, and she had a full ballet roster of classes and I was, I would play for those classes and I learned a lot about ballet (laughter) and about improvisation because a lot of times the teacher would come and do a little combination and I would look at it and then I would play back for that combination as the students would, would do it. I learned how to balance it so that it would flow with the movements and could stop on time (laughter), so I learned a lot about ballet. And then I started studying privately first with Robert Starer who was at Juilliard [School, New York, New York] at the time and Vittorio Giannini was at Manhattan School of Music [New York, New York]. I started concertizing my music on radio and, and getting artists to sing at first recitals. I also had a revue at Steinway Hall [New York, New York] and then finally Judson Hall [New York, New York]. One of the pe- people in, in my first audience was [HistoryMaker] George Shirley a tenor--(unclear)--at that time and African American tenor, I have to say--$$Yes.$$But that was pretty much my beginning work thing. There's was one time when I was like, like a sub-clerk typist for an agency. They would send me out and I, I did learn my typing at Glenville [High School, Cleveland, Ohio], so I did my typing assignments and, and had nothing to do with music, that was, that was just it you know and I lived first in mid-Manhattan [New York, New York] and then 73rd Street near West End and then 160th Street in Washington Heights [New York, New York] and then down to the Lower East Side [New York, New York], you know, a walkup apartment, which the first two was with, with someone; last time was by myself. And I had a piano there and I would do a lot of composing in my own apartment, and so that was my beginning work.$All right, and we had just started to talk about the opera 'Blake' and my question was related to the storyline.$$Yes, okay. It is a story of an African American who is a slave in the deep South just prior to the Civil War, John Henry Blake and his wife Miranda and there's a son little Joe and Blake is because of his intelligence and, and skills elevated to like head steward of this plantation and as the beginning of the story we find that he is talking to his comrades about a freedom plan, which is really emancipation kind of, of a project and he is be about ready to be sent off on a journey for, for the master of the plantation, Major Stevens, who is head of the plantation to, to bring back some horses from another state and while Blake is gone his wife Miranda is given away as a gift to a visiting couple from South Carolina and that dramatically is the, is the motivating focus for, for Blake. He decides that he is going to start to instigate this plan at the same time that he is gonna search for Miranda. But, before he goes on this, there's a confrontation between he and the Master Stevens which, which leaves Stevens strangled and expired and Blake a fugitive and--$$(OFF-CAMERA INTERRUPTION)$$Okay, so you were telling me about the storyline for 'Blake.'$$Yes, yes, and so, so Blake ends up being a fugitive from justice and he ends up in the dismal swamp and Miranda in the meantime has escaped and with the help of some Quakers ends up at that location trying to, to relocate with her husband and dramatically what happens is that some shots are heard and they, they find a woman. They go to see who she is and it turns out to be Miranda, so there's a very poignant reunion between Blake and Miranda just as word comes that Fort Sumter [Charleston, South Carolina] has been fired upon. The Civil War has begun and that the slaves are going off to march, you know, to, to join forces with [President Abraham] Lincoln and so there's a bitter sweet ending for, for Blake. The death of Miranda, you have the hope for freedom symbolized by, by the beginning of this, this great Civil War and so that's the general, you know, story of it. But, it really all about freedom really.$$Okay.$$More about freedom than it is about bondage.$$Okay, and when was the opera completed?$$Nineteen eighty-five [1985].$$All right. Are we gonna see a full production of that soon?$$Yes, yes, yes. I look forward to making some announcements in the near future.