Editor’s Note: Amanda Lewis is an August Wilson Center Fellow (2010-11 Season).
My name is Amanda Lewis, and this being my first blog as an August Wilson Center Fellow what can I say but what an exciting time. I have spent many years in school studying western classical music as well as the history and/or influence of genres from all over the world. As a musician it’s extremely important to understand the function of music. As an artist its important to understand how it touches and reaches people. There are some cultures in the world that believe these two, the function and art are one and the same. I tend to agree.
I also feel that too often people try to polarize music like they do so many other things. People want music to belong to someone or some group which is an idea I passionately fight against. It has been my dream to read and explore music that may not be on the radar of most but is still just as beautiful and deserving to be studied. My fellowship project is about highlighting the contributions of African Americans in “western style classical music”. There is so much music and so much material that you just don’t hear, and it is my hope that one day people talk about the music that happened to be written by African Americans, rather than it being performed only because it was written by African Americans. There is some music I’ve had great difficulty tracking down for this project but in the end I know I will be better informed and better armed to share amazing music with the world, which is really all I ever want to do in life. If I do nothing for the rest of my life but explore, learn, and share I’ll want for nothing more …. and so it begins.