From modest beginnings in 1913, music at Howard University has soared to enviable heights.
- In early years Bernard Mason directed its symphony orchestra.
- Louis Vaughn Jones, a stunning violin virtuoso, developed fine string players.
- Hazel Harrison, a keyboard titan, produced the brilliant concert pianist, Vivian Scott whose New York Town Hall debut was electrifying.
- The renowned baritone, Todd Duncan spent his early teaching years at Howard before embarking upon an enviable operatic and concert career.
- Warner Lawson became the first Dean of the College of Fine Arts, and—with the collaboration of Evelyn White and Lorraine Faxio—brought international prominence to the choirs and the University.
- At the same time, the compositions of composers Mark Fax and Thomas Kerr, Jr. remain unsurpassed for their ingenuity and refinement.
- Out of the studios of Carolyn Grant, John Malachi and others came world-class artists and entertainers, including opera diva Jessye Norman, jazz singer Roberta Flack, classical pop artist Donny Hathaway, and jazz pianist Geri Allen.
Today the tradition of musical excellence continues—
- Under the direction of J. Weldon Norris, Howard University Choir performances attract enthusiastic audiences both at home and abroad.
- The Howard University Jazz Ensemble, directed by Fred Irby, III, generates new followers in China and Japan.
- The exciting vocal ensemble, Afro Blue—labeled by critics as “the best college jazz choir in the country”— captivates listeners with dynamic jazz arrangements by its founder and director, Connaitre Miller.
- For scholarship and publications Charles Timbrell remains the authority on French keyboard music.
- Raymond Jackson and Karen Walwyn champion the piano music of African American composers.
- Jazz pianist Charles Covington, classical and jazz saxophonist Charlie Young, flautist Nicholas Lewis, trombonist Paul Schultz, Joseph Lovinsky on French horn, and mezzo-soprano Valerie Eichelberger are among the many faculty artists who dazzle listeners with their masterful artistry, while Chris Royal’s electronic media offer the latest 21 century sounds and techniques.
Without question, the pride and reputation of Howard University’s music continue to rest securely on the shoulders of its great musicians, scholars and educators.