All material found in the Press Releases section is provided by parties entirely independent of Musical America, which is not responsible for content.

Press Releases

Homage: Chamber Music from the African Continent & Diaspora Featuring Castle of Our Skins and Pianist Samantha Ege

January 24, 2023 | By April Thibeault | AMT PR | april@amtpublicrelations.com

Homage narrates many facets of the Black experience: the resilience in our music, history articulated by Black creativity, and the extraordinary power of art in affirming our shared humanity.”
– composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen


Available in U.S. Release Date: March 1, 2023
U.K. Release Date: October 28, 2022

Lorelt #147 | Order Stream: https://www.lorelt.co.uk/147

Boston, MA (For Release 01.24.23) — As part of its 10th anniversary season, the Boston-based Castle of our Skins (COOS), today announced the upcoming American release of its debut album Homage (2022). Marking a historic moment in chamber music in many important ways, Homage illuminates classical repertoire that have been long neglected or forgotten by the musical establishment written by five Black composers from Africa and the Diaspora. Performed by one of Great Britain’s leading pianists and historians Dr. Samantha Ege and the COOS quartet (violinists Gabriela Diaz and Matthew Vera, violist Ashleigh Gordon, and cellist Francesca McNeeley)—both notable champions of diversity and inclusion in classical music—Homage brings together a variety of styles and influences with works for piano quintet, piano trio, and interludes between the chamber works.

“Though many of the pieces on Homage will be unfamiliar to the majority of classical music lovers, the themes of fortitude, resistance, and hope will resonate deeply,” explains Ege. “We are excited for listeners to immerse themselves in the music and take this journey with us.” According to Gordon, founder and violist of COOS, the musicians fully embraced the challenges of the music. “I reminded the artists of the storytelling power in these works. It pushed them to new levels of expressivity and communications as chamber musicians.”   

The five original tracks celebrate the many ways classical practitioners of African descent have arrived, while showing that the field has a long way to go in the representation of African-descended artists and African-inspired artistry in classical music.       

The album includes two responses to the harrowing history of apartheid. Safika: Three Tales of African Migration (2011) depicts Black South Africans’ dispossession, migration, and translocation. As one of the most important composers on post-liberation South Africa, Bongani Ndodana-Breen (b.1975) draws upon personal narratives of Black dispossession and translocation in his homeland of South Africa. “By quoting and paraphrasing aspects of African music and dance, Safika alludes to memories of lives left behind, the people, the songs, the dances, and the connection to the land,” explains Ndodana-Breen. Composer Undine Smith Moore (1904-1989) references the Black spirituality of her Southern upbringing and that of her South African brothers and sisters in the piano trio Soweto (1987). As a Black woman born in the Jim Crow South, she generated great empathy for the international plight of Black people under similarly oppressive systems. 

The eponymous Homage (1990) honors one of the great composers of the Harlem Renaissance, William L. Dawson. Composed by his female student Zenobia Powell Perry (1908-2004), it fittingly interweaves African American and European sound worlds. Spiritual Fantasy no. 12 (1988) is a blues-tinged, four-movement suite for string quartet based on a Negro Spiritual. Written by Frederick C. Tillis (1930-2020), it reflects the composer’s classical and jazz trainings, and pays tribute to the people who found hope and strength through faith in God. Moorish Dance, op. 55 (1904) references a term that developed derogatory connotations in relation to people from North Africa, i.e., “Moor.” Here is one of England’s greatest composers, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912), exhibiting his multiculturalism—son of a Sierra Leonean father and English mother, and the face of a changing Britain. 

About Castle of Our Skins         
Castle of our Skins (COOS) is a Boston-based educational series dedicated to celebrating Black artistry through music. From classrooms to concert halls, COOS invites explorations into Black heritage and culture, spotlighting both unsung and celebrated figures of the past and present. Violist Ashleigh Gordon and composer Anthony R. Green founded COOS in 2013 to address the lack of equity in composer representation on concert stages and the omission of important stories and figures in Black history. A decade on, the organization still shines as a beacon for diversity in the arts. CastleSkins.org

About Dr. Samantha Ege
Samantha is a musicologist and pianist. Her research and repertoire tightly entwine and largely concern 20th-century composers of African descent and women in music. She has published extensively in these areas. As a concert artist, she made her London debut at the London Festival of American Music in September 2021 and her Barbican debut soon after in November that year. Samantha has since proved a sought-after recitalist and concerto soloist with engagements across the UK, Ireland, US, and Canada. This collaboration with Castle of our Skins represents her first significant project as a chamber musician and her third album (the previous two were Fantasi Negre; The Piano Music of Florence Price and Black Renaissance Woman: Piano Music by Florence Price, Margaret Bonds, Nora Holt, Betty Jackson King and Helen Hagan). SamanthaEge.com

Always at the front of music innovation, Lontano was one of the first ensembles to form its own record company when in 1992 it established the LORELT label (Lontano Records Ltd). Now with a catalogue of 47 recordings, LORELT features soloists as well as other ensembles and is noted for its archive of important and often neglected composers. Lorelt.co.uk


# # #



Media Contact: April Thibeault, AMT PR, 212.861.0990, april@amtpublicrelations.com




Law and Disorder by GG Arts Law

Career Advice by Legendary Manager Edna Landau

An American in Paris by Frank Cadenhead



Search Musical America's archive of photos from 1900-1992.