DR. E U G E N E T H A M O N S I M P S O N (thamspx1@verizon.net)

DR. EUGENE THAMON SIMPSON thamspx1@verizon.net

 

HOMEBIOGRAPHYCAREER RELATED ACTIVITIESCREATIVE WORKSAWARDS, HONORS, GRANTSCATALOGH. JOHNSON COLLECTIONBOOKS BY EUGENE THAMON SIMPSONDISCOGRAPHYARTIST PUPILSMELODAIRES QUARTETHALL JOHNSON SPIRITUALS COMPETITION

Run Little Chillun

THE HALL JOHNSON COLLECTION AT ROWAN UNIVERSITY

The Hall Johnson Collection grew out of an eleven year friendship of Hall Johnson and Eugene Thamon Simpson from 1959 until his death in 1970. Simpson visited with Johnson frequently, attended concerts with him, played for singers Johnson was coaching, and in 1962, gave the first all-Hall Johnson concerts, save for those of the Hall Johnson Choir, in New York City, with his Voices of Friendship Chorale. In 1969, Simpson recorded The Hall Johnson Song Book, an album which contained 13 of Johnson's best know spiritual arrangements. So strong was the bond of friendship and mutual respect that Johnson, at the age of 82, attended the New York Concert of Simpson's Virginia State College Choir, on April 9, 1970. It would be their last meeting as Johnson died of smoke inhalation in an apartment fire only 21 days later.

It was a single propitious meeting of Simpson with Hall Johnson's sisters, Alice Foster and Susan Jordan, which prompted them to seek his assistance in settling Johnson's estate, and to present the 104 cartons of music, records, books and other memorabilia to Rowan University on permanent loan in 1984. Between 1984 and 1988, Dr. Simpson worked alone at the tremendous task of unpacking, and organizing the materials, and with the help of 25 leading musicians from around the nation, of which Jessye Norman was the major contributor, he amassed enough money to produce The Hall Johnson Centennial Festival, in October of that year, marking the 100th anniversary of Johnson's birth. The three-day festival offered a series of five solo recitals and three choral concerts of Johnson's music. It attracted national attention by National Public Radio, and featured scholarly presentations by prominent muicioans, including William Warfield, Jester Hairston, Leonard De Paur, D. Antoinette Handy, Eugene Thamon Simpson, Ingres Hill Simpson, Dr. J. Weldon Norris, and Dr. James Kinchen. The recitalists were Metropolitan Opera National Auditions Finalist, Robin Wilson, Barbara Dever, later of the Metropolitan Opera Roster, Dr. Blanche Foreman, Gregory Hopkins, the "Black Pavarotti," and John Morrison, then tenor soloist at New York's Riverside Church. The three choral groups were the Winston-Salem State University Choir, the Howard University Choir, and the Rowan University Chamber Choir. A 4-CD album, "The Best of the Hall Johnson Centennial Festival," has recently been issued to document this event.

In 1991, Bessie Johnson, the sister-in-law of Hall Johnson, bequeathed to the Collection a considerable sum which has become a permanent endowment to generate a modest operating budget. This has allowed the work of the Curator and a single part-time assistant to continue to organize, catalog and inventory the materials until 2010, when this task was substantially completed. The Collection opened for research on an appointment basis in the fall of 2006.

In 2004, Dr. Simpson, who has served as Curator of the Collection since 1984, completed a definitive biography of Hall Joohnson, "Hall Johnson: His Life, His Spirit, and His Music." The book was published by Scarecrow  Press in 2008 and has garnered critical acclaim. The Collection provides an important resource for scholars and performers interested in performing Hall Johnson's music. The Collection has provided scores on loan to Howard University, The Detroit Symphony, and for the Kathleen Battle - Jessye Norman Sprituals Concert Gala at Carnegie Hall. It has petitioned the U.S. Postal Service Committee on Commemorative Stamps to include Hall Johnson in the Series of Black Heritage issues. Persons who would be interested in writing letters of support for this nomination may contact Dr. Simpson for further information at: thamspx1@verizon.net. The recordings, "The Best of the Hall Johnson Centennial Festival," and "The 24 Greatest Spirituals of Hall Johnson and William Dawson" may also be ordered.

In 2013, all archival material in the collection became the Hall Johnson Collection at the
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture which will open on the National Mall in 2016. The books and recordings in the collection became an endowed Hall Johnson Collection at the University of Georgia Athens, the birthplace of Hall Johnson. In 2014, the Hall Johnson Collection at Rowan University, in collaboration with the National Association of Teachers of Singing, founded and endowed from 2016-2036 the NATS Hall Johnson Spirituals Competition to restore authentic performance of the classically arranged spiritual. This competition was announced at the 53rd NATS National Conference with a Recital of Hall Johnson's Spirituals and Songs by internationally renowned baritone, Donnie Ray Albert with commentary by Eugene Thamon Simpson. The inaugural NATS Spirituals Competition was held in Chicago in July 2016 and chose three winners.Dr. Simpson edited 19 Hall Johnson Concert Spirituals which were published digitally by Hal  Leonart in time for the first competition.

CHORAL ENSEMBLES

 

ROME TOUR

CARNEGIE HALL

LONDON TOUR

PARIS TOUR

MORMON TABERNACLE TOUR

VIENNA & SALZBURG TOUR

MOSCOW- ST. PETERSBURG

MADRID-BARCELONA TOUR