Coleridge-Taylor hits the right notes for Black History Month

Croydon celebration: composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Croydon’s very own black classical composer is to be celebrated in a prestigious concert at Fairfield Halls on Sunday, October 9, part of the arts venue’s programme of events marking Black History Month.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor wrote his epic choral work Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast in 1898. It forms the centrepiece of the Fairfield Halls concert, to be sung by the Croydon Philharmonic Choir and the Royal Choral Society, together with the London Mozart Players.

The LMP will also perform Coleridge-Taylor’s ravishing Violin Concerto.

The Croydon Philharmonic will sing Elgar’s choral The Spirit of the Lord and the concert is completed with Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Coleridge-Taylor, born in London in 1875, lived in Croydon for most of his life. An English Heritage blue plaque marks his residence at 30 Dagnall Park, South Norwood (he was the first black recipient of a plaque). He died at his home in St Leonard’s Road in 1912.

The Fairfield Halls concert marks the latest collaboration between the LMP and the Croydon Philharmonic Choir. Their performance of Verdi’s Requiem in 2019 won critical plaudits and they will be appearing in a Christmas concert on December 6.

The concert on October 9 will also mark the first time the Croydon choir has sung with the Royal Choral Society for almost 80 years.

Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast was the stand-out composition of Coleridge-Taylor’s career.

He drew on African musical influences and the work was widely performed in both Britain and the United States. But in dire financial need, he sold his copyright for 15 guineas, and was near-penniless when he died.

The concert starts at 7.30pm. Tickets cost from £10 to £36.75 and are on sale here:

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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