By Kyle Fearon-Wilson
As a British citizen I haven’t found it very difficult being black and carrying a violin with me. I might get the odd stare for a bit especially when one has to consider the fact that there are many stereotypical discriminatory prejudices against us as black people but nothing more.
The people are lot more friendly and accepting of me as a black classical violinist in England than they are in Germany. I’m currently studying for my bachelor degree in violin performance in Stuttgart, Germany. In fact as recently as two weeks ago when I attended a concert given by the LPO in the Liederhalle, the majority of the people who attended this concert exchanged glances of discontent and disgust when they saw me: a young black man who was eager to listen to some awesome music. Many might think I was exaggerating but I actually held my peace until a friend of mine (also a student in Stuttgart from Taiwan) asked me about it since he had noticed it himself. This was the first time I’d been exposed to a little bit of what you could call passive discrimination. It didn’t involve any violations in regards to verbal or physical aggression however this minor experience pointed out to me that these kind of events could also contribute to the lack of coloured musicians in the workplace.
Another contributing factor (I would say this is the major contributing factor as a matter of fact) is the deceptive manner in which the media hides many of the great African/African American or otherwise composers. This gives a sense of misplacement for many black people (I know this because I once felt like this myself and I spoke to many other fellow black brothers and sisters who felt that way). In order to lay the suspense I will list but a few of these black composers who have been hidden from the mainstream light:
- Joseph Bologne or Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799) son of a French colonialist and his African slave.
- George Walker (born 1922) the first black graduate from the Curtis Institute.
- Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912). He was considered to be the African Mahler and was praised by Elgar as the “most intelligent young mind of his generation”.
- William Grant Still (1895-1978 ). He wrote many works to do with the sufferings blacks had to endure in the 20th century. Works in particular such as “And they lynched him on a tree”, “In Memoriam for the coloured soldiers who died for democracy”, the “Mother and Child” suites and his most famous work the “An Afro-American symphony.”
These are but a few of the composers of African descent who were hidden from the mainstream media.