Black Renaissance in the US and Caribbean

Monday 13 September 2021

Song settings of the AfricanAmerican poet Langston Hughes and the AfroCuban poet Nicolas Guillen with Simone Ibbet Brown Mezzo and Lontano

Opening the Festival on Monday 13 September,

Mezzo Soprano Ibbett-Brown sings settings by the African American poet Langston Hughes in works by Margaret Bonds and Florence Price. AfroCuban poet Nicolas Guillén’s poems were greatly influenced by the “Negritude” (Blackness) movement begun by Langston Hughes in Harlem, a movement that reached Europe and the Caribbean. Mezzo-Soprano Simone Ibbett-Brown joins Lontano to give the world premiere of Odaline de la Martinez’s Four Afro Cuban Poems by Nicolas Guillén as part of a programme of contemporary works also featuring Fred Lerdahl and Augusta Read Thomas, winner of the Ernst von Siemens Composer’s Prize in 2000.

6:30pm Pre-concert panel on the Black Renaissance in the US and abroad with Joan Anim Addo


Margaret Bonds Three Dream Portraits by Langston Hughes

Augusta Read Thomas Dream Catcher UK PREMIERE

Augusta Read Thomas Caprice UK PREMIERE

Odaline de la Martinez Four Afro Cuban Poems by Nicolas Guillén WORLD PREMIERE

Fred Lerdahl Three Diatonic Studies UK PREMIERE

Florence Price Four Songs | Fantasy in Purple | Forever | Song to the Dark Virgin | Travel’ End

Simone Ibbett-Brown mezzo-soprano

Caroline Balding solo violin

Dominic Saunders solo piano


Margaret Bonds

Margaret Bonds was born in 1913. She was a child prodigy and daughter of the Black Chicago Renaissance. Unlike her mother, Estella Bonds who was from New York and her father Monroe Alpheus Majors who was born in Texas, Margaret was born and raised in Chicago’s South Side.

A roster of the most prominent black classical composers and performers from the early twentieth century enriched her upbringing and musical education. The Bonds home assumed multiple functions as a space for club meetings, rehearsals, salons, and a place of refuge for those in need. This is the environment I’m interested in exploring because it helps us expand our thinking about Black women in music. We begin to understand individuals like Margaret Bonds, not as outliers or anomalies, but as products of a specific time and place, and as members of networks that thrived irrespective of white mainstream acceptance.

So while Margaret Bonds became more prolific as a composer upon moving to New York, her formative years in Chicago provided her with a sort of blueprint for how to shape a compositional voice that honoured the past and spoke to the needs of the present. A voice that resonated with the collective, but was ultimately, undeniably her own.

Samantha Ege


Lontano’s impact on the perception of new music has been profound and enduring. Since its inception in 1976 by conductor/composer Odaline de la Martinez and flautist Ingrid Culliford, Lontano has established an international reputation as one of the most exciting and versatile exponents of 20th and 21st century music.

Lontano commissions, produces, performs and records with the primary aim of brining to the fore the work of contemporary British and American composers, Women composers and Latin American classical repertoire. The ensemble’s sphere of activity includes contemporary opera, music theatre, concerts, workshops, education projects, tours, broadcasts and recordings. Performances feature some of the most noted, inventive and radical names in contemporary composition including Judith Weir, Martin Butler, Earle Brown, Roberto Sierra, Errollyn Wallen, Nicola le Fanu, Peter Sculthorpe, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Chen Yi, Lindsay Cooper, John Harbison and Steve Reich.

More Lambeth Listings MORE

Lambeth Thursday 2 - Saturday 11 May

Liberation Squares

Three British Muslim schoolgirls undergo a political awakening and try to work out how to make their voices…

Lambeth Saturday 4 May

Nonclassical at 20: After Hours

nonclassical, the music promoter/charity/record label, continues its 20th anniversary celebrations with an after-party featuring DJ sets.   These…

Lambeth Thursday 20 June - Saturday 6 July

Everything I Own

Errol lost his Dad last year. Listening to his old man’s Spotify playlist, he remembers his Dad’s passion…

Lambeth Monday 15 - Saturday 27 July

Housemates Returns: Before I Go

Follow Ajani, a young boy who tragically dies and gets stuck in limbo and forced to undergo overcoming…