February is Black History Month, so each of this month’s regular music selections (Tone Poem Tuesday and Something for Thursday) will feature music either composed, or performed, or both, by black musicians.
George Walker (1922-2018) was the first black composer to win the Pulitzer Prize for music, for a work entitled Lilacs. Walker was a teacher, a composer, and a performer of note, and he had what was by all accounts a long and successful musical life before he died at the age of 96. This work is an exuberant bit of modern dance that he wrote on commission from the Las Vegas Symphony, in commemoration of that city’s centennial celebration. Hoopla: A Touch of Glee is a bright and bold orchestral showpiece that thrums with the odd optimism of Las Vegas, a city that has no reason to exist other than to be a place where the kinds of things that go on in Vegas…go on. I’ve been listening to this oddly infectious work for several days now, and it’s not easy to forget.
Here is Hoopla: A Touch of Glee by George Walker.