Black British Classical Foundation Concert

30 October 2020, 1.15 PM - 30 October 2020, 4.00 PM

Black British Classical Foundation


The Department of Music is proud to host the Black British Classical Foundation in a concert of vocal repertoire. The concert will be followed by a discussion and Q&A facilitated by Dr Justin Williams.

Contact Information: These are online-only events. Sign up for a free ticket on Eventbrite and the zoom link will be sent to you closer to the event. 

1.15pm: Vocal concert with Cassiopeia Berkeley-Agyepong (with Benjamin Burrell, piano accompaniment) performing the music of Ellington, Strayhorn, Coleridge-Taylor, Simone, King and others.

2pm: Discussion and Q&A with Berkeley-Agyepong and BBCF Founder and Artistic Director Vincent Osborne (convened by Justin Williams)

This programme is a celebration of the musical innovations of 19th and 20th century black composers, showcasing songs from the classical and jazz traditions which in many ways capture the spirit of our times despite having been written as much as 124 years ago. The programme includes music by household names Duke Ellington and Nina Simone as well as lyrics by Langston Hughes. It also features work by Betty Jackson King, Billy Strayhorn and Croydon-born Black British composer - Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Some pieces speak to the pervasive racism and inequality which the artists no doubt experienced themselves; whilst others are simply an expression of joy, love, loneliness, hope, wonder, and the full spectrum emotions that make us human.


Cassiopeia Berkeley-Agyepong is an actress, singer and theatre-maker passionate about new writing in theatre and opera. She trained at the Royal Academy of Music, having previously studied Music at the University of York. She made her West End debut in Caroline, or Change; has assistant directed for ENO Baylis; and is a member of ETT Forge producers’ network and an Associate Artist of the National Youth Theatre. Cassiopeia’s debut play, Shuck ‘n’ Jive, co-written with Simone Ibbett-Brown, premiered at Soho Theatre in October 2019 and is published by Oberon Books.

Credits include: Madame Firmin in The Phantom of the Opera (UK & Ireland Tour); U/S Radio 1, Radio 2, The Moon in Caroline, or Change (Playhouse Theatre, West End); Lucy Parsons in Haymarket (Actors’ Church, Covent Garden); Porgy & Bess (Grange Park Opera); Trees in The Pied Piper of Chibok for Grimeborn Opera Festival (Arcola Theatre).

Benjamin Burrell is a composer, orchestrator, arranger and musical director. Born and raised in south-east London, he studied Jazz Piano at Trinity College of Music, then gained a Masters in Scoring for Film, Television & Video Games from Berklee College of Music. For theatre, Benjamin is composer & arranger for the National Theatre's production of Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey directed by Bijan Sheibani which transferred to Trafalgar studios after a UK tour. He was also composer & musical director of the hit play Small Island adapted from the book by Andrea Levy and directed by Rufus Norris at the National Theatre. Since 2019 Benjamin has been the Musical Director of The House and Garage orchestra, and on-screen, Benjamin composed the score for upcoming feature Shortcut, and he has scored several independent short films including Shiney by director Paul Holbrook. Credits as assistant musical director include; Memphis(Shaftesbury Theatre), One Love(Birmingham Rep), Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill(Wyndham's Theatre), and A Clockwork Orange (Theatre Royal Stratford East.)

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