Melanated Moments in Classical Music

Classical Music Indy

Melanated Moments in Classical Music is a new podcast that shines a spotlight on musical works composed by, for, and about people of color. Melanated Moments is hosted by international opera soprano Angela Brown and music sociologist Joshua Thompson. For some listeners, Melanated Moments will uncover a hidden trove of classical music they never knew existed. For those with a deep knowledge of the genre, stories reflecting the cultural context of the African Diaspora will give a fresh voice to black contributions in the world of classical music.

Introducing Melanated Moments in Classical Music
Trailer 1 min 59 sec

All Episodes

Angela and Joshua wrap up Season Three with a flourish by speaking with solo and collaborative violist Ashleigh Gordon who is recognized internationally as an effective social change agent through education. Ashleigh reflects on her journey as a musician and how she endeavors to center and celebrate the works of Black artists and composers through her Boston-based organization Castle of Our Skins. Featured performances including Ashleigh’s rendition of Margaret Bonds’ The Negro Speaks of River as well as her performance of Vivace from String Quartet No. 1 by Adolphus Hailstork.Support the show (

Oct 6

30 min 35 sec

Joshua and Angela welcome the distinguished ethnomusicologist Rev. Dr. Alisha Lola Jones to discuss one of the most important women composers of all time, Florence Price. An authority on Price, Dr. Jones tells of Price’s groundbreaking career path that dispelled the overwhelming barriers to a Black, female composing music. We’ll hear the pieces Fantasie Negre performed by Samantha Ege, Feet o’ Jesus performed by Dr. Ollie Watts Davis, and My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord performed by Leontyne Price.Support the show (

Sep 29

40 min 47 sec

Angela and Joshua reflect on the inspiring life and work of the brilliant composer Undine Smith Moore.  As a woman living through the time of Jim Crow South, Moore's body of work mirrors the deliberate and intentional evolution of her personal worldview. Our co-hosts spotlight three of her most emotive works including Love Let the Wind Cry performed by Aundi Marie Moore, The Allegro from her Afro-American Suite performed by Kate Steinbeck, Tim Holley, and Dewitt Tipton, and Watch and Pray performed by our very own Angela Brown.Support the show (

Sep 23

25 min 29 sec

Joshua and Angela expound on the life and work of the iconic British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, focusing on one of his most famous works, the Song of Hiawatha. Excerpts from the Hiawatha Overture punctuate the discussion of Coleridge Taylor’s international career, prolific body of work, and how composers of that era often did not receive fair financial compensation for their work. Featured tracks: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor -- Hiawatha Overture - YouTube - Performed by the RTE Concert Orchestra and conducted by Adrian LeaperSupport the show (

Sep 15

21 min 4 sec

Angela and Joshua survey the multifaceted life of legendary David Baker. An iconic composer, educator, performer, and native of Indianapolis, Baker is revered globally for his unique ability to traverse the worlds of jazz and classical music deftly and equally. His works Calypso, A Good Assassination Should be Quiet, and Bolling Suite for cello and jazz piano are featured to demonstrate his signature style that continues to be held as a model for classical and jazz composers.Featured Tracks: A Good Assassination Should Be Quiet - Performed by:  Mary Johnson Letellier, Scott WheatleyBolling Suite for Cello and Jazz Piano Trio - Performed by: Yehuda Hanani, Michael Chertock, James Cammack, Arti DixsonCalypso from Suite for Cello and Jazz Trio -Performed by: Monika Herzig, Pavel Klimashevsky, Dieter Schumacher, Manuel Fischer-DieskauSupport the show (

Sep 8

23 min 43 sec

Joshua and Angela acquaint us with a groundbreaking composer and pianist, Margaret Bonds. Joshua takes us through the life of Margaret Bonds who was at the epicenter of cultural and artistic expression during the turn of the 20th century, collaborating with luminaries Florence Price and Langston Hughes among others. We hear a performance of Bonds’ Montgomery Variations, performed by the University of Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, a stunning example of the composer’s ability to “score” the civil rights movement.Featured music: Montgomery Variations by Margaret Bonds performed by the University of Connecticut Symphony OrchestraSupport the show (

Sep 1

25 min 7 sec

Joshua and Angela discuss the pioneering work of Harry Burleigh, how he directly influenced the sound of American music and paved the way into the traditional classical music space for the Black artists and composers who followed him. We are introduced to one of Burleigh’s non-choral works, Southland Sketches for violin and piano, as well as a rare recording of Burleigh singing Go Down, Moses.Support the show (

Aug 25

19 min 51 sec

Angela and Joshua explore the global and diasporic works of Rosephanye Powell and speak with the artist herself. Our co-hosts discuss Rosephanye’s approach to arranging, how to avoid cultural appropriation while honoring the roots of cultural inspiration, and why presenting a story can help diverse audiences understand music derived from the Negro spiritual. We’ll hear works performed by the Eastman Chorale,  Vocal Essence, and  from the Philander Smith Collegiate Choir. Support the show (

Aug 18

44 min 53 sec

Angela and Joshua explore the depths of the American Negro Spiritual with Dr. Everett McCorvey, noted tenor, conductor, and founder of the American Spiritual Ensemble. They explain how the American Negro Spiritual differs from gospel, its foundational relationship to American music, and how the art form transcended from the cotton fields to concert halls around the world.Support the show (

Apr 28

43 min 52 sec

Joshua introduces Robert Nathaniel Dett, a quintessential Diasporic composer who blended African-American folk music traditions with classic European musical styles to create masterful and unique compositions. A performance by William Chapman Nyaho of Robert Nathaniel Dett's piano suite, In the Bottoms, is showcased to illustrate Robert Nathaniel Dett's prowess as a musical scenescape painter. Support the show (

Apr 21

25 min 51 sec

Joshua and Angela welcome acclaimed and multifaceted performer Ric’key Pageot to the show. He speaks about his recent journey to explore his Haitian heritage and  discovering an impressive trove of classical music inspired from a legacy of Vodou and revolution. They discuss an amazing piece by Haitian born composer Carmen Brouard entitled Baron la Croix. Support the show (

Apr 14

28 min 11 sec

On this episode, Angela enlightens us about a performer she refers to as an “accidental activist.” Marian Anderson was an amazing and groundbreaking performer who used her talents to blaze a trail and help move our country and our world toward a more equitable future. Support the show (

Apr 7

31 min 5 sec

Angela and Joshua  discuss the short but immensely impactful life of Moses Hogan and his contributions to music through making spirituals a standard part of choral repertoires. Support the show (

Mar 31

22 min 14 sec

Joshua and Angela reflect on the amazing life and music of Ignatius Sancho, who was born on a slave ship and orphaned shortly thereafter. Through dedication and application, he was able to escape the institution of slavery and make a huge contribution to the arts, including many great classical compositions.Support the show (

Mar 24

18 min 17 sec

Angela and Joshua talk about an imaginative and powerful storyteller, Laura Karpman, who has been an advocate and ally for inclusion and equality her entire career. Her Grammy- and Emmy-winning music scores span film, television, theater, interactive media and live performance.Support the show (

Mar 17

21 min 22 sec

Angela and Joshua speak with Pulitzer Prize winning composer Anthony Davis and groundbreaking clarinetist Anthony McGill about the recent performance of “You Have the Right to Remain Silent,” and the catharsis of sharing painful yet powerful experiences through music.Support the show (

Mar 10

26 min 1 sec

In this third and final bonus episode, Joshua and Angela are joined once again by the prolific and talented Dr. Bill Banfield. He shares insights from his time serving on the Pulitzer committee for music and we listen to his arrangement  titled The Cape Is Charming, whose lyrics were taken from a letter written by Langston Hughes.Support the show (

Dec 2020

17 min 43 sec

On this episode, Joshua and Angela speak with Dr. Bill Banfield about his personal experience with the COVID-19 virus and how its caused him to think deeply about the deep issues of our lives and the lives of those around us. They use Dr. Banfield's 6th Symphony as a catalyst to explore how hard times like the ones we are experiencing often precede moments of hope and joy.Support the show (

Nov 2020

17 min 43 sec

On this bonus episode of the show, Angela and Joshua invite a special and renowned guest,  Dr. Bill Banfield, to share insight into his amazing body of work. This episode focuses on how art can help us process tragedies and draw through lines between the struggles of the past and the hardships of the present. Through this process, we learn how artists can help foster peace and hope on both an individual and social level.  Support the show (

Nov 2020

25 min 1 sec

On this episode, Angela walks us through her storied career, and shares some of her favorite performances with the help of her long-time friend, Janet Jarriel. Support the show (

Apr 2020

27 min 58 sec

Our featured composer this episode, Thomas Wiggins, is one of the most talented musicians of all time…who also happened to be non-verbal, blind, and born into slavery. Joshua tells us how in his own time, Wiggins was portrayed as a circus act rather than a musical genius but is now starting to get the recognition he has long deserved.Support the show (

Apr 2020

12 min 30 sec

On this episode of Melanated Moments, Angela gives us an inside look at the making of a masterpiece. She tells us how composer Richard Danielpour worked with literary legend Maya Angelou to set a number of poems for the iconic song cycle, A Woman’s Life. Angela tell us of her once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform in Miss Angelou’s own home; a performance which moved her to tears.Support the show (

Apr 2020

18 min 45 sec

The libretto for this week’s piece was written by poet laureate and iconic literary figure Toni Morrison. Margaret Garner is an opera that tells the story of an escaped slave who is captured but decides to kill her own children rather than see them forced back into slavery. Our own Angela Brown voiced one of the principal characters during the world premiere in Detroit, and she walks us through this powerful and thought-provoking opera. Support the show (

Mar 2020

14 min 40 sec

Evelyn Simpson Curenton was born into one of the most musically gifted families of all time, and her talent still shined through. She is one of the most sought-after composers and musicians of her time. On this episode, Angela walks us through two of Curenton’s personal favorite spiritual pieces: Sinner Please Don't Let this Harvest Pass and Oh Glory.Support the show (

Mar 2020

16 min 3 sec

On our debut episode of Melanated Moments in Classical Music, Joshua introduces us to one of his favorite composers, William Grant Still. Known as the Dean of African American Composers, his Africa Suite transports the listener to the dawn of time and the cradle of civilization. Joshua and Angela discuss the piece’s second movement, Land of Romance as well as cartoons, relationships, and defying stereotypes.Support the show (

Mar 2020

14 min 42 sec

Classical Music Indy invites you to subscribe to a show that takes a fresh look at classical music. Join us as we shine a spotlight on musical works composed by, for, and about people of color. Hosts Angela Brown and Joshua Thompson take you inside the music and tell the stories behind the pieces with a perfect blend of lively conversation and no-nonsense straight talk. Full episodes coming March 18, 2020.Support the show (

Mar 2020

1 min 59 sec