The music of Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson has soared in popularity since 2020, as major symphony orchestras and international stars such as Yo-Yo Ma have added his works to their repertoire. However, we currently lack adequate analytical models to identify and unpack Afrodiasporic elements of his compositions, in which he often subverts formal schemas such as fugue or sonata form. New analytical models might help us better understand the nature of his aesthetic and formal choices at a time when the audience response to those choices is increasingly positive.
One of the most significant compositional strategies African-American composers employ is the act of signifyin(g) – “troping” upon source material that may be obscure or coded by revising it, fragmenting it, or framing it in new contexts. In this talk, I discuss a possible model for the application of signifyin(g) in classical music and apply it to Perkinson’s compositions.
Explore this topic with the Department of Music during a talk titled “Signifyin(g) in the Music of Coleridge” Friday, Nov. 3, at 4 p.m. in Harkness Chapel.
About the speaker
Christopher Jenkins is earning a DMA in viola performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and a PhD in Musicology from Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), where his work focuses on African-American musical aesthetics. At Oberlin Conservatory, he is the Associate Dean for Academic Support, the Conservatory Liaison to the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and a Visiting Assistant Professor of Musicology. Before coming to Oberlin, he was Deputy Director and instructor of viola and violin at the Barenboim-Said Foundation in Ramallah, West Bank.
In 2022, alongside music theorist Philip Ewell, Chris was a co-founder and co-organizer of the Theorizing African American Music Conference held at CWRU. Chris is the winner of several awards for scholarship and music performance, including the Karamu House “Room in the House” Fellowship; CWRU’s Adel Heinrich Award for Excellence in Musicological Research; American Society for Aesthetics’ Irene Chayes “New Voices” award; the American Viola Society’s David Dalton Research Competition; and third-place laureate in the Sphinx Competition. In 2023, his first book, on diversity issues in music education, will be published by Routledge Press and the College Music Society. His alma maters include Harvard University, Columbia University, New England Conservatory, and the Manhattan School of Music.