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Sphinx Organization, Wigmore Hall

At Wigmore Hall on Sunday, I went to a concert by Sphinx Organization, a Detroit-based non-profit who champion diversity in classical music. The concert featured chamber music by African-American composers, alongside our very own Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was, of course, named after the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. And in what much surely be a rare case of recursive naming, the composer Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson was named after him. Perkinson was born in in 1932, and died in 2004. And it was a work composed just before his death that stood out in this concert: his short and rather innocuously-named Movement for String Trio.

Coming after a quartet arrangement of Strayhorn and Ellington’s jazz standard Take the A Train, the solemn Bach-like counterpoint of the piece took me completely by surprise. Perkinson plays games with the rhythm, introducing an element of wonkiness which prevents it being Baroque pastiche. The result had something of that mysterious, simple effectiveness that is somehow able to leave a deeper impression than music of much greater ambition.

Listen here (youtube).

Read a review of the whole concert by Bernard Hughes on The Arts Desk.