FORGEWITHGEORGE is a project started by Nicole Cherry in 2016 to commission an entirely new body of repertory for violin (solo and chamber) each year until the 200th Anniversary of the Slavery Abolitionist Act in England, where George Bridgetower called his home. Programs combine rediscovered compositions of George Bridgetower and new compositions, companion pieces, and arrangements inspired by her research of the unknown yet outstanding contributions of London based nineteenth-century Afro-European violin virtuoso, George Bridgetower. This project is a compilation of performances, lectures, and recitals that seeks to restore the legacy of great artists of color that have been dismissed from our history books. Each year, Nicole will commission and premiere a new program of music which highlights the contributions and virtuosic excellence of George Bridgetower and the list of diverse artists amongst which he worked. Newly discovered facts about George Bridgetower serve as a catalyst to the next artist commission and the program. Additionally each program with its featured commission will be released as recordings and a comprehensive anthology made available digitally as educational resources for artist-teachers. Join in on this exciting artistic marathon of revisionist history.
ForgeWithGeorge was coined from a special note that I received which contained the aforementioned phrase from Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Rita Dove. In 2009, Rita Dove released, “Sonata Mulattica: A Life in Five Movements and a Short Play, " a collection of poems about the life of George Bridgetower. I was fortunate to meet Ms. Dove and her beautiful family aboard the QE2 in 1994! In this note, Ms. Dove commented on her excitement about a work entitled, "THE BRIDGETOWER" that I commissioned in 2017 from my friend and composer David Wallace that with her permission uses the text of her book.
“THE BRIDGETOWER," for singing, rapping, solo violinist composed by David Wallace with text by Poet-Laureate Rita Dove is the inaugural work of the ForgewithGeorge Music Project. The first movement "If Only" has been premiered throughout the US, and Canada with scheduled dates in Europe. The three movement work will have its premiere in 2021.
Please join the journey, and "Forge With George!"
Join me in a lecture and discussion of the life and musical contribution of George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower skilled and well-connected Afro-European violinist in early nineteenth-century Europe.
BEETHOVEN AND BRIDGETOWER
History remembers Bridgetower as the brilliant original dedicatee of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata no. 9, Op. 47. According to contemporary accounts, when Bridgetower skillfully sight-read the work- improvising embellishments and cadenzas- Beethoven spontaneously interrupted the performance to praise and embrace him.
The Op. 47 SONATA - (Kreutzer)
Not too long after the work’s premiere, Beethoven and Bridgetower had a falling out. Beethoven rescinded his dedication, replacing Bridgetower with the leading violinist of the day, Rodolphe Kreutzer. Befriended by many esteemed musicians and pioneers of the music world, history remembers him as the original dedicatee of Ludwig van Beethoven’s 9th Sonata.
As the earliest interpreter of the piece and as a friend of Beethoven’s, it is possible that Bridgetower may even have assisted with the composition of the work, particularly with virtuosic violin passages he embellished during the premiere (which I am publishing and have performed). His reputation as a colleague of Beethoven’s, however, is largely unknown. Audiences and critics of the day admired this “prodigy,” perceiving his bi-racial background as problematic but also as further proof of his “noble” genius.
I am currently chronicling the life of 19th century Afro-European violin virtuoso George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower (1778-1860), the renowned denounced friend of Ludwig van Beethoven. Through a series of recitals, I offer a cross-cultural musical narrative, through the music of Bridgetower's time and newly composed genre-bending works. While this project is a compilation of performances and recitals that will restore the legacy of great artists that have been dismissed from our history books it also brings to the forefront questions of identity and equity within our society.
This Bridgetower chronicle is presented and compiled in a series designed to reveal the musical contribution and virtuosity of George Bridgetower.
David Wallace -THE Bridgetower for singing, speaking, solo violinist
Yvette Jackson - Remembering 1619 for violin and tape
D. J. Sparr - Paganini-Sparr Serenade for 2 violins and guitar
Renee Baker - Sweet Fruit Falling for violin and narrator
Jonathan McNair - Henry for solo violin
Philip Wharton - Gloss on "Henry" for violin and piano
Vattel Cherry - Go Down Moses for improvising violinist
John Cornelius - Sweet Freedom's Song: Fantasia on the hymn-tune "America" for voice, violin and piano
Jessie Cox - (in progress) The Violin is for Diggin' for violin, time and space
Cultivating your own career can be overwhelming. As well, diversifying your classroom music curriculum and repertoire on stage can be daunting but a vital part of our calling as artists and teachers. Let me help you meet your needs in your career, classroom and the stage.
Featured in upcoming film, "Black Fiddlers," directed by Eduardo Montes-Bradley-
Guest artist, Encore Chamber Music Festival (OH) June, 2021-
Guest artist, Starling-Delay Symposium, The Juilliard School, June 2021