Submitted by Emille Taylor and Gloria Akers
For a second musical season Philadelphia Alumnae’s unique partnership with the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society has achieved many mutual goals. The PCMS season includes a strong list of concerts by artists of color and in alignment with Delta Sigma Theta’s Commission on Arts & Letters mission – the
support of Black artists is paramount on Philadelphia Alumnae’s calendar.
A beautiful fall October evening, members of Philadelphia Alumnae, a devoted coterie of community supporters, traveled to Perelman Hall, to welcome the renowned string ensemble SPHINX VIRTUOSI to Philadelphia. Comprising 18 ofthe nation’s top Black and Latinx classical soloists, the Sphinx Virtuosi present a program inspired by present day events and the vibrant gifts of the past that all cherish today, The Virtuosi strive to bring joy, discovery, and hope to audiences through a program of music by generations of Black and Latinx composers. In a pre-concert talk, one hour before the Sphinx performance, Dr. A. Kori Hill, went into detail about the Sphinx repertoire.
On this, the first concert, to be followed by more than 50 during the PCMS 2023-2024 Season, is Xavier Foley and Kebra-Seyoun Charles, both outstanding double bass players.
Xavier Foley, was First Prize winner of the 2014 Sphinx Competition, Young Concert Artists Auditions 2016, and a winner of the Astral Artists National Auditions 2014. He has appeared as soloist with the Sphinx and Atlanta symphony orchestras, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Nashville Symphony. This season he appears with the Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players, and St. Vincent College concert series. Also, a composer, he is a 2016 graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied both composition and performance. Xavier Foley strives to become a world artist on the double bass as he continues to incorporate all styles of music, whether it be cultural, national, or folk music.
Kebra-Seyoun Charles is a double-bassist originally from Miami, Florida. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from the New England Conservatory of Music and currently pursuing his Master of Music degree at the Juilliard School, under the tutelage of Joseph Conyers, Philadelphia Orchestra principal bass.
Kebra-Seyoun is also a recipient of the prestigious Greene and Morse Teaching Artist Fellowships.
The evening’s powerful moment was the premiere of Xavier Foley’s, Concentrate for Two Double Basses and String Orchestra, Galaxy (2023) Composed by Xavier Foley. Xavier, in the program stated – “When composing Galaxy, I wanted to experiment with chord progressions one might imagine hearing when envisioning outer space as frequently portrayed in the media. Simultaneously, I wanted to build a
conversation between the double bass soloists and the self-conducted ensemble. The intrigue and ethos of the work are to showcase the solo instruments as virtuosic and star-like, which is atypical for most conventional repertoire. While the double bass is not often thought of as a solo instrument, that framing has been important to me as both a frequent soloist and composer.”