Due to the popularity of my earlier black conductors article I was feeling the need to expand this piece a bit. Again this is by no means comprehensive and I welcome comments, additions and corrections.
The original article was just an occasional piece, far from comprehensive so I have decided to add a few names. First the black conductors who are no longer with us:
–Charles-Richard Lambert (d. 1862)- Born in New York (no date given), settled in New Orleans and was a music teacher and conductor for the Philharmonic Society (the first non-theater orchestra in New Orleans). He died in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
– Edmond Dédé (1827-1903) Born in New Orléans, he moved to Europe to study music and settled in France where he had a career as a conductor and composer.
–William Grant Still (1895-1978)- In addition to being a major American composer and the first black composer to have a symphony played by a major symphony orchestra to have an opera premiered by a major company (Troubled Island, written in 1939 was premiered by the New York City Opera in 1949), the first black composer to have an opera broadcast on television (Bayou Legend, 1941, not performed until 1974 and broadcast 1976 by the Mississippi Educational Television Authority) he was also the first black conductor to conduct a major American orchestra in the deep south (New Orleans Philharmonic, 1955)
–Calvin E. Simmons (1950-1982) The first black conductor to be appointed conductor of a major American orchestra (Philadelphia Orchestra). He died in a canoeing accident near Lake George in New York. The Calvin Simmons theater at the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center in Oakland, CA is named in his honor.
And now to those who remain on the earthly plane:
-Thomas Jefferson Anderson (1928- ) Better known perhaps as a composer is an educator he is also an accomplished conductor, educator and orchestrator. He is well-known for his orchestration of Scott Joplin’s opera Treemonisha (unfortunately this has yet to be recorded).
-Leslie B. Dunner (1956- )Born in New York City, he attended the Eastman School of Music, Queen’s College and received a Master’s Degree in 1979 from the University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. He was the first American (of any color apparently) to win the Arturo Toscanini International Conducting Competition in 1986. Currently a conductor for the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago, Mr. Dunner has conducted the Chicago Symphony, the Grant Park Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, L A Philharmonic and many others world-wide.
–William Eddins (1964- ) Both a pianist and a conductor, Eddins was a founding member of the New World Symphony in Miami, FL and is currently the principal conductor of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra since 2005. He regularly performs music by 20th and 21st Century composers and host a podcast called Classical Connections.
-Robert Keith McFerrin, Jr. (1950- ) Better known as “Bobby McFerrin” is a ten time Grammy award winner. He is also a popular guest conductor with orchestras such as the San Francisco Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, Israel Philharmonic and many others.
As I said this is hardly comprehensive but these omissions have bothered me more each time I see that the original post has been read again. Hopefully this will assuage my guilt and provide useful information.