Music of the Unsung America Selects Michael R. Dudley Jr.’s “Elegy” From Call for Scores

ACF | connect partner Music of the Unsung America has announced the selection of Michael R. Dudley Jr.’s Elegy: For Those We Have Yet to Lose from their most recent call for orchestral scores. The performance of Dudley’s work will take place on Saturday, December 11, 2021 at Miami’s African Heritage Cultural Center, and will appear on a program titled “An Orchestra Beneath the Stars,” which will feature the music of Margaret Bonds, as well.

American Composers Forum (ACF) has offered creative and administrative support for the development and launch of the full Music of the Unsung America series over the course of this past year through its ACF | connect program. This is the second Music of the Unsung America call for scores supported by ACF; a call for chamber pieces earlier this year resulted in performances of works by Joseph Jones on April 24, 2021 and Dwight Banks on June 18, 2021.

“It’s hard to believe that we are here already, at the point where this concert is a culmination of what has been a very rewarding and ambitious first season,” shared Portia Dunkley, Executive Director for Music of the Unsung America. “I had a hope that Music of the Unsung America would shed light on our collective bias and the cultural deficits it creates in our community, but it has done so much more. We are building a community, we are shifting mindsets, creating opportunities, providing representation in a deeply meaningful way; it’s like we’re giving hugs with every performance.”

Portia Dunkley's Music of the Unsung America project--Photo by Romeo Davis

Portia Dunkley’s Music of the Unsung America project–Photo by Romeo Davis

Reflecting on the selection of his work, Michael R. Dudley Jr. stated, “For my piece, Elegy: For Those We Have Yet to Lose, to be selected for the Music of the Unsung America program is an amazing honor that I do not take lightly. The weight of the piece, written just before the pandemic’s onset, was an expression of grief to come as a result of the many trials and tribulations we faced in 2020. At that time, I did not know that the epidemic of gun violence would claim the life of a dear, young family member later that year, in the wake of George Floyd and others’ deaths. It is as much an expression of loss as it is of community and empathy. To feel another’s pain is to indeed feel pain, and I think we all deserve the space to grieve and express even as we still experience some of the trauma associated with this time. It is my hope that this piece holds space for all who need it.”

Lead funding for Music of the Unsung America is provided by a matching grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s 2019 Knight Arts Challenge Miami.

Concert Information

Music of the Unsung America: “An Orchestra Beneath the Stars”
Saturday, December 11, 2021, 7:00pm EDT
Music of the Unsung America will perform Michael R. Dudley Jr.’s Elegy: For Those We Have Yet to Lose alongside the works of Margaret Bonds
Tickets: $20 for advance purchases, $25 at the door

About Michael R. Dudley Jr., Composer

Michael R. Dudley Jr.--Photo by Alan Hsaio

Michael R. Dudley Jr.–Photo by Alan Hsaio

With more than a decade of professional experience as a musician, Michael R. Dudley Jr. has performed in groups such as the Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra and the South Florida Jazz Orchestra. His recent performances as a fellow with the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra have allowed him to share the stage with Steve Miller, José Feliciano, John Williams, and Quincy Jones, among other amazing artists. As a doctoral student at the University of Miami – Frost School of Music, he recorded as a lead trumpet player on multiple GRAMMY®- winning recordings by the John Daversa Big Band and Brian Lynch Big Band.

As a composer and arranger, his works have most recently been performed by the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra, with several projects he is orchestrating currently underway. He has studied with Maria Schneider, Miho Hazama, Gary Lindsay, Noam Wiesenberg, and Stephen Guerra.

As an educator, he was recently brought on staff at the JAS Academy in Aspen, Colorado alongside Shelly Berg, Christian McBride, Brian Lynch, and Chuck Bergeron after first participating as a student in 2019. Michael is now based between Miami and Potsdam, New York, where he was recently appointed as Visiting Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music. In addition to his role as Visiting Assistant Professor at Crane, Michael is currently a doctoral candidate in Studio Music and Jazz at the University of Miami – Frost School of Music, where he was awarded the prestigious University of Miami Dissertation Fellowship for his thesis, “Technological Mediation in Instrumental Jazz Praxis.”

About Portia Dunkley, Executive Director

Portia Dunkley--Photo by Romeo Davis

Portia Dunkley–Photo by Romeo Davis

Born to immigrant parents, Portia Dunkley is a native of Miami, FL with Bahamian and Haitian Caribbean roots. In 2017, Portia started Teeny Violini, a mobile music education program for preschools and afterschool programs, providing music education services for historically underserved communities, educating students from preschool-5th grade through weekly programming. In 2019 Portia was chosen as a Fellow for the Sphinx L.EA.D (Leaders in Excellence, Arts and Diversity) inaugural cohort. Currently she serves as the Executive Director of the Refugee Orchestra Project whose mission is to demonstrate through music the vitally important role that refugees from across the globe have played in our country’s culture and society. Inspired by her own experience as a Black woman musician and double bassist and having learned about these Black composers late in her career, Portia hopes that her work with Music of the Unsung America and The Refugee Orchestra Project will help build communities of belonging, amplify the voices and creative talents of marginalized artists and inspire young people of all cultures to see themselves reflected in classical music.

About American Composers Forum

ACF supports and advocates for individuals and groups creating music today by demonstrating the vitality and relevance of their art. We connect artists with collaborators, organizations, audiences, and resources. Through storytelling, publications, recordings, hosted gatherings, and industry leadership, we activate equitable opportunities for artists. We provide direct funding and mentorship to a broad and diverse field of music creators, highlighting those who have been historically excluded from participation.

Founded in 1973 by composers Libby Larsen and Stephen Paulus as the Minnesota Composers Forum, the organization continues to invest in its Minnesota home while connecting artists and advocates across the United States, its territories, and beyond. ACF frames our work with a focus on racial equity and includes within that scope, but does not limit to: diverse gender identities, musical approaches and perspectives, religions, ages, (dis)abilities, cultures, backgrounds, sexual orientations, and broad definitions of being “American.” Visit www.composersforum.org for more information.

Launched in 2017, ACF | connect provides sustained support for music creators to build relationships with ensembles based in the United States. Through the development of new work, the program intentionally supports a spectrum of voices and music to advance creative musical expression, which we believe is essential to human culture. Previous collaborations include the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble (PNME), Roomful of Teeth, and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians® (AACM)’s Great Black Music Ensemble.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

We are social investors who support democracy by funding free expression and journalism, arts and culture in community, research in areas of media and democracy, and in the success of American cities and towns where the Knight brothers once had newspapers. Learn more at kf.org and follow @knightfdn on social media.

American Composers Forum’s ACF | connect program is made possible with the outstanding generosity of the following individuals: Jane Anfinson, Thomas Arneson, Suzanne Asher, Carol Barnett, Pearl and Bob Bergad, Margee and Will Bracken, Karen Brooks, Richard Cisek and Kay Fredericks, Dee Ann and Kent Crossley, Julia W. Dayton, C. Lee Essrig, Rosemary & David Good Family Foundation, Katherine Goodale, Jeff and Hyun Mee Graves, Mike and Kay McCarthy, Carol Heen, Steve Heitzeg and Gwen Pappas, Kathleen Henschel and John Dewes, Linda and Jack Hoeschler, Leaetta Hough and Bob Muschewske, Sam Hsu and Sally Cheng, Hella Mears Hueg Estate Gift, Thelma Hunter Estate Gift, John and Ruth Huss, George Frederick Jewett Foundation East, Art and Martha Kaemmer, Jon Lewis and Lisa Merklin, Greg McNeely, Alfred and Ann Moore, Louis and Gloria Nuechterlein, John Nuechterlein and Dan Monson, John and Debbie Orenstein, I.A. O’Shaughnessy Foundation in memory of Thelma Hunter, David and Judy Ranheim, Denice Rippentrop, Vanessa Rose, Bill and Susan Sands, Gale Sharpe, Doug and Kathy Skor, Dan and Ellie Thomas, Stephen and Jayne Usery, Kathleen van Bergen, Janika Vandervelde, Jim Wafler, and Margaret and Angus Wurtele.


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