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The Oak Ridge Symphony Performs Music By African American Composers Featuring Violist Derek Reeves

Derek Reeves began playing the violin shortly before the age of three. His mother was a violinist and his father, a jazz saxophonist as well as a military officer. Being a military family, the Reeves moved around quite a bit, but music was always a constant in their lives. Derek excelled at the violin at a young age and decided to pursue it as a profession, eventually making the switch to viola, as he found that the larger-sized instrument felt more comfortable.

Reeves has held several leadership positions with various orchestras and is currently principal violist with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. Sunday afternoon, he will perform Telemann's Viola Concerto with the Oak Ridge Symphony, as well as William Grant Still's Suite for Violin, with orchestral accompaniment. The concert is titled "Musical Firsts" and features music by trailblazing African American composers, including Daniel Bernard Roumain's Tuscaloosa Meditations and Jessie Montgomery's Records from a Vanishing City.

In this conversation, Derek and Morning Concert host, Melony Dodson, discuss why music by marginalized composers has been overlooked for so long and why orchestras seem to be turning their focus towards inclusion of this music on their programs and recordings. Mr. Reeves also shares his personal experience of being an African American in the "classical world."

The Oak Ridge Symphony performs on Sunday, Feburary 9th at 3pm at the Grove Theatre in Oak Ridge. Mr. Reeves will also participate in a musical workshop and roundtable discussion on Saturday, February 8th beginning at 1pm at Scarboro Community Center in Oak Ridge. Tickets and information are available at http://orcma.org

Melony calls the beautiful mountains of Boone, N.C., home, although she was born near Greensboro, N.C. There’s just something about those Blue Ridge Mountains that got in her blood and never left after she moved there to attend Appalachian State University (ASU). While at ASU, she majored in piano performance and music therapy and began to cultivate a love for accompanying and for collaborating with other musicians. This soon led her to earn a master’s degree in collaborative piano at the University of Tennessee, which she attended from 2006-2008.