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Colour of Music Festival celebrates 10th anniversary

Lee Pringle
Bradley Fuller
Lee Pringle

Founder and Artistic Director Lee Pringle reflects on the growth of the performing arts organization that has platformed Black classical musicians since 2013 and previews the festival’s February concerts being given in Charleston.

You might think of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges as the poster child of the Colour of Music Festival. The organization’s flyers and promotional materials frequently feature an elegant portrait of the 18th century figure—a painting that shows a man with noble bearing gazing directly at the viewer, his gloved right hand holding a fencing sword. Just over his shoulders are pages of sheet music and the neck of a string instrument, alluding to his skill as both a violinist and composer.

But one feature of the portrait might prompt a double take from those who would expect all composers of the era to look like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or Joseph Haydn.

Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges

Lee Pringle, who founded the Colour of Music Festival in 2013, remembers well some of the initial reactions to festival signage featuring this image of Saint-Georges: “There were people who would drive by and see those billboards and go ‘Who on Earth is this powdered wig guy who looks Black?’”

Providing an answer to that question and others like it is part of the mission of the Colour of Music Festival. According to Pringle, composers and performers of African descent such as Saint-Georges have been under-recognized and under-programmed for too long. Pringle hopes that the diverse offerings of the Colour of Music Festival will make audiences and the general public better acquainted with their vital contributions.

In this Sonatas & Soundscapes interview that aired Friday, January 27th, Pringle speaks with host Bradley Fuller about the festival’s beginnings in 2013 and its growth over the subsequent decade. Pringle also shares about the people, places, history, and music coming together for the series of performances taking place in the festival’s home city of Charleston February 1st-4th.

More information about the festival can be found at https://www.colourofmusic.org/

The Colour of Music Festival and Middleton Place Foundation are financial supporters of South Carolina Public Radio.

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Originally from Greenwood, SC, Bradley Fuller has maintained a deep interest in classical music since the age of six. With piano lessons throughout grade school and involvement in marching and concert bands on the saxophone, Bradley further developed musical abilities as well as an appreciation for the importance of arts education.