150th Birthday: Harry T. Burleigh

Celebrations in upstate New York at Skidmore College

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The 150th anniversary of the birth of Harry T. Burleigh (1866-1949), African
American singer, art song composer, music editor and pioneer arranger of
spirituals will be celebrated with a weekend of events at Skidmore College in
Saratoga Springs, New York.

Baritone Stephen Salters will present a master class on Friday, December 1. On
Saturday, December 2, Myra Young Armstead of Bard College will speak on
“Blacks in Saratoga Springs: Then and Now.” Jean E. Snyder will give a pre-
concert talk introducing Stephen Salters’ major recital of Burleigh’s art
songs and spiritual arrangements. Salters will also perform with the Skidmore
Vocal Chamber Ensemble, directed by Katie Gardiner.

On Saturday, December 3, there will be a Service of Lessons and Carols at
Bethesda Episcopal Church on Washington Street, featuring several of
Burleigh’s Christmas songs and spiritual arrangements. Burleigh sang at
Bethesda in the summer of 1892, when he worked as a wine steward at the Grand
Union Hotel, and he sang with the hotel orchestra under the direction of
Victor Herbert. This was also the summer when African American soprano
Sissieretta Jones made her premiere appearance at Saratoga Springs.

The CBMR holds a number of Burleigh’s compositions in the music collection, as well as individual research collections by musicologists. All are available to be freely used in the Reading Room. Hours and access information on the website: http://www.colum.edu/cbmr

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