Works of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor & Zanaida Robles to be Featured in the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Celebration

By Chris Ruel

Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church in Pasadena, California, will fete Black-English composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s 147th birthday with the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Celebration, featuring two special performances of the composer’s work.

“Sacred Choral Music of Coleridge-Taylor and Robles” will be presented on August 12, 2022. The concert comprises a cross selection of sacred works by Coleridge-Taylor and Artistic Director and composer Dr. Zanaida Robles. On the program are two settings of “Magnificat” and “Nunc Dimittis,” written by¬†Coleridge-Taylor and Robles. “Ecstatic Expectancy,” composed by Robles and featuring percussionist Dave Tull, will also be performed. The work blends classical choral music with rock improvisation.

On August 14, 2022, Music Sunday! Church Service will present Coleridge-Taylor’s most celebrated work, “Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast,” drawn from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “The Song of Hiawatha.” The work includes music by Indigenous composers set alongside Coleridge-Taylor’s fusion of Indigenous legend, classic American poetry, and English late-Romantic Music.

Robles will conduct the performances, featuring the Coleridge-Taylor Singers and the Coleridge-Taylor Celebration Chorus.

The church is the first stop as the Celebration makes its way to Carnegie Hall for a performance of “Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast” presented by National Concerts. The Harvard-Westlake Choirs and Orchestra from Southern California are slated to perform, with Robles on the podium. The work was last presented at Carnegie Hall in 1915.

“Researching the life and work of Coleridge-Taylor has been an eye-opening experience ever since I first discovered his music as an undergraduate student in vocal performance,” said Robles in a press statement. “It is a privilege and joy to present this celebration, which is part of a larger commitment to expand the choral canon and uplift underrepresented voices, including Indigenous artists and composers.”

“Sacred Choral Music of Coleridge-Taylor and Robles” is a ticketed event with a fee, while Music Sunday! Church Service is free.