Piano Music by Women of African Descent

Eleanor Alberga, Judith Baity, Maria Thompson Corley, Krystal Grant Folkestad, Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, Betty Jackson King, Tania León, Joyce Solomon Moorman, Nkeiru Okoye, Julia Perry, Florence Price, Shirley J Thompson, Errollyn Wallen, Mary Lou Williams




"there is something for every music lover to enjoy here... with the electric playing of Maria Thompson Corley, one would be hard pressed indeed to find a better advocate for and of this music. She is not only a highly gifted pianist, but a fine composer as well. Recommended!
Scott Noriega, Fanfare [September/October 2022]
"The program has a wealth of interesting music, and I am grateful to Jamaican-born Canadian Maria Thompson Corley for both her research and the strong performances of some demanding music... The brilliance and sensitivity in Corley’s playing here, like in the rest of the program, makes for a very satisfying and rewarding disc."
James Harrington, Fanfare [September/October 2022]
"A collection of short piano pieces by 14 Black women composers brings up 14 life stories and a wealth of musical styles. But those stories and styles, along with the background of racial issues, shouldn’t mask one thing that dominates this album: It is immensely entertaining. In their collective talent, these women share a vibrant imagination. I wouldn’t want anyone to assume that reviewing this disc was born of duty or ethical considerations. These are impressive, lively pieces that amount in total to a very enjoyable listen... Corley, an accomplished pianist who has spent the time and effort to learn more than a dozen separate musical styles, is a thorough musician and devoted researcher in search of so many composers out of the mainstream. Her own talented compositions are represented by four adroit pieces, including a charming suite about a kindergarten class, Naughtycal Glimpses."
Huntley Dent, Fanfare [September/October 2022]
"this is a brilliantly varied recital often sparkling, often surprising. Maria Thompson Corley is a master pianist... This is a fine disc that presents these composers’ works in the very best light. It is all positively enriching."
Colin Clarke, Fanfare [September/October 2022]
"Corley has a fine sense for flow and shape as a programmer, and there is a pleasing sense for a unified narrative here. This is also a fine showcase for Corley’s superb piano playing, given the variety of technical and interpretive challenges."
Peter Burwasser, Fanfare [September/October 2022]
"The program has a wealth of interesting music and I am grateful to Corley for both her research and the strong performances of some demanding music... Corley begins her program with a bang. Eleanor Alberga’s Jamaican Medley is quite brilliant, with some lyrical moments as well... The brilliance and sensitivity in Corley’s playing...makes for a very satisfying and rewarding disc."
Harrington, American Record Guide [July/August 2022]
"The perfect follow-up to her first incredible Soulscapes chapter, Corley curates an incredible roster of voices to fall in love with, from the lilting sigh of Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, to the timeless Troubled Water by Margaret Bonds and new discoveries like Nkeiru Okoye's African Sketches. Corley plays each voice and moment so lovingly and sensitively, it is a truly gorgeous project from start to finish."
Vanessa Hughes, ABC Classic [June 2022]
"An excellent collection of varied piano works by 14 women composers from all over the world"
Pan Pipes (SAI) [Spring 2022]
"Maria Thompson Corley, a gifted pianist with many performances to her credit, provides well-deserved recognition for 14 composers of African descent in an omnibus recording of their work... you may find some of the compositions easily assimilated while others might take more than one listening to fully appreciate. Many of us are steeped in the European musical tradition and what has come of it as expressed in the 20th and 21th centuries. It is therefore worthy, out of respect to the world of music as a whole, to step back and consider how music arises otherwise, in this case from African heritage."
Joel C. Thompson, Cherry Grove Music Review [February 2022]
"Fantasie Negre, the last and longest work on the disc, is both the most-substantial piece on the CD and the most musically and emotionally satisfying. Corley plays it with strength and conviction, and also handles the rest of the music quite well..."
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [March 2022]
Click HERE to see an interesting interview with Maria Thompson Corley and Leah Caliborne, a pianist, scholar and champion of diversity in classical music.

Born in Jamaica and raised in Canada, Maria Thompson Corley has performed internationally as both as a solo and collaborative artist at notable venues, including Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Aaron Davis Hall, Epidaurus Festival, Liszt Academy, and at the Smithsonian Museum of African American History. Among her collaborators are soprano Priscilla Baskerville, clarinetist James Campbell, clarinetist Doris Hall-Gulati, baritone Randall  Scarlata, and members of the New York Philharmonic and Philadelphia Orchestra. Her engagements as a soloist with orchestra include the Tallahassee Symphony under the baton of Gunther Schuller. She and cellist Sara Male formed Duo Chiaroscuro in 2011; among their passions is performing concerts for people whose special needs prevent strict observance of concert protocols. Corley has recorded for Naxos, Albany, Parma, and several independent labels. Her recording of Valerie Capers’ Portraits in Jazz was included in the HBO special, Kebreeya’s Salad Days, and her recording of Leslie Adams’ Etude in C-sharp minor was included in director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’s documentary, Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am. A sought-after composer and arranger, her piano piece, Lucid Dreaming, was a semi-finalist in the international Fidelio competition. Her music has been commissioned and recorded by several university artists and entities, along with independent musicians, including tubist Daniel Rowland, countertenor Darryl Taylor, sopranos Sequina Dubose, Louise Toppin and Randye Jones, the Juventas New Music Ensemble, and others. Corley’s song cycle Grasping Water was added to the music curricula at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, University of California in Irvine and Jackdaws Music Education Trust in the United Kingdom. Her debut short-form opera, The Sky Where You Are, with libretto by Jenny O’Connell, was part of the award-winning Decameron Opera Coalition’s Tales from a Safe Distance. Her second short-form opera, The Place, with libretto by Sandra Oyinloye, was composed for Decameron Opera Coalition’s subsequent production, Heroes. Dr. Corley earned a Bachelor’s degree at the University of Alberta in Canada, and a Master’s degree and Doctorate at The Juilliard School.

[ ]
Eleanor Alberga (b.1958) | Jamaica
Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou (b.1923) | Ethiopia
Nkeiru Okoye (b.1972) | USA
Betty Jackson King (1928-1994) | USA
SEASONAL SKETCHES – Spring Intermezzo
Julia Perry (1924-1979) | USA
Joyce Solomon Moorman (b.1946) | USA
Tania León (b.1945) | Cuba
Krystal Grant Folkestad (b.1983) | USA
I. Susquehanna
II. East
III. James
Errollyn Wallen (b.1958) | Belize
Mary Lou Williams (1910-1981) | USA
Judith Baity (b.1944) | USA
Q & A

Shirley J. Thompson (b.1958) | England
Maria Thompson Corley (b.1966) | Jamaica
1. The Early Morning March
2. Recess
3. Teacher Tells a Mythical Tale
4. Skipping Homeward
Florence Price (1887-1953) | USA

Recorded 6 and 17 June 2021 at the Church of the Apostles UCC, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Recording and editing engineer: Mike Furst. Steinway B piano; Technician: Dawn Herring.

MSR Classics