Instrumentation: String orchestra
Publisher: Boosey and Hawkes, Hendon Music (BMI)
Duration: 6 minutes
World Premiere: NYSSMA Honor String Orchestra, conducted by Larry Rachleff, at the 1989 NYSSMA Conference on October 15, 1989
Strut (1989) for string orchestra was commissioned by the New York State School Music Association. The world premiere was given by the NYSSMA Honor String Orchestra, conducted by Larry Rachleff, at the 1989 NYSSMA Conference on October 15, 1989. Strut (1989) is inspired by Paul Robeson (1898-1976), the great African-American actor, singer and civil rights activist. Robeson was widely admired for his acting, on stage as Shakespeare’s Othello, in films such as The Emperor Jones (1932) and Showboat (1936), and in concert for his singing of Afro-American spirituals and folksongs. Paul Robeson was also an advocate for American racial equality and justice. His civil rights activities were viewed as “subversive” by J. Edgar Hoover, director of the F.B.I. Robeson’s American passport was revoked by the U.S. Government in 1950, forcing his political, film and concert career to a virtual stand still.
The buoyancy and fearless fiddling of Strut reflects the visionary optimism and outburst of creative activity during the Harlem Renaissance (1920-30), in which Paul Robeson was a central figure. Imagining a youthful and optimistic Paul Robeson strutting down 125th street in Harlem during the 1920s, I have created various rhythmic motives, themes and vibrant syncopations that are woven into a lively and complex rhythmic tapestry.