Spirituals of William L. Dawson: The St. Olaf Choir

Through his numerous a cappella choral arrangements, African-American composer William Levi Dawson (1899-1990)  helped to preserve and promote the rich tradition of spirituals. When Dawson was awarded an honorary doctor of music degree from Ithaca College, president James J. Whalen honored this legacy eloquently, stating,

You, William Dawson, have spent a lifetime immersed in the folk music of your peoples…You have committed your life to bringing this music of the heart, this music of the soul, to the young of all races, so that their faith and their hopes will grow, so that their ideas and dreams will flourish.

Born in Anniston, Alabama, Dawson ran away from home at the age of 13 to study music at Tuskegee Institute (now University). At the time, the Institute, headed by Booker T. Washington, was the only school in the area that accepted African American students. Dawson funded his tuition by working on the school’s farm.

Between 1926 and 1930, Dawson performed as first trombone of the Chicago Civic Orchestra. He received international acclaim for his Negro Folk Symphony, which was premiered by Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra in November of 1934. Returning to Tuskegee, Dawson developed and conducted a renowned 100 member choir from 1931 to 1956.

Ezekiel Saw de Wheel

Ain’a That Good News

Every Time I Feel the Spirit


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About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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