By Ricky O’Bannon
Baltimore’s African-American community has a long and storied musical history in gospel, blues and jazz. But because of limited access and opportunities for black classical musicians, much of that history has been under-celebrated or in many cases lost altogether.
Below is a timeline that tries to capture just some of that history and celebrate notable figures and milestones for the black classical community in Baltimore.
Special thanks to Michael Lisicky for help in compiling notable dates for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Lisicky is a BSO oboist and historian who has been researching the orchestra’s history for an upcoming book due out next year. Special thanks also to the work of Peabody Curator Elizabeth Schaaf whose 1999 exhibit “The Storm is Passing Over” on the musical history of Baltimore’s African-American community greatly informed this timeline. An online version of that exhibit (including many photos and more information) is available here. Note: in several cases dates are approximate.