William Grant Still

Composer William Grant Still was the first African American to have major productions of both a symphony (1931) and an opera (1949). Still was raised in Little Rock and went on to break barriers of race and advocate for American composers throughout his lifetime.

On September 22, join the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center (MTCC) to experience the life and work of William Grant Still – for free!

Image courtesy of the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture

Still’s life took him from Arkansas to Chicago, to California and New York, learning from and performing with iconic American musicians. Some of his most noteworthy works include:

  • “From the Black Belt” (1926)
  • “From the Land of Dreams” (1924)
  • “Darker America” (1924–1925)
  • “From the Journal of a Wanderer” (1924)
  • “La Guiablesse” (1926–1927)
  • “Levee Land” (1925)

However, the “Afro-American Symphony,” first performed in 1931 by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, is by far his most well-known composition.

MTCC will host a “Lunch & Learn” with Opera in the Rock at noon on September 22. We will discuss Still’s compositions and life. This will be a time to explore musical selections and delve into the rich history of his life. Bring your lunch; beverages will be provided. Admission is free.

A concert version of Still’s opera “Troubled Island,” with a libretto by poet Langston Hughes, will be performed by Opera in the Rock at 7p.m. on September 22. Admission is free. “Troubled Island” was premiered by the New York City Opera Company in 1949.