Monday, April 11, 2016
Will Marion Cook - featured in "Musical America" - February 7, 1920
Will Preserve and Cultivate the Music of the Colored Race
CHICAGO, Feb. 1.—It is scarcely half a year since James R. Saville, the enterprising manager of musical organizations, took hold of the American Syncopated Orchestra and singers. It was at a time when the season had just about closed and Will Marion Cook, the conductor and master mind of the organization, was undetermined on his future public course. Mr. Saville saved the situation by taking charge of the management and while Mr. Cook was abroad re-organized the band and the singers and booked them extensively throughout the country, but particularly on the western coast in California, He came into Chicago last week and in glowing terms spoke not only of the work of the orchestra and singers, but of the unanimously cordial receptions which have been accorded to this organization throughout the far west.
He spoke particularly of the number of concerts that he gave in San Francisco; there were three of these, always to capacity houses, the audiences averaging between four and seven thousand persons. He also had to give three concerts at Los Angeles at the Trinity Auditorium, and among other places that he visited with the orchestra and the singers were Oakland, Berkeley, where they played in the Greek Theater to 7000 persons; Fresno, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, San Louis Obispo, back to San Francisco, then another tournee through Palo Alto, San José, Sacramento and back to San Francisco. At Sacramento, Will Marion Cook returned from Europe and assumed the conductorship of the company. Since then they have been heard at Winnipeg and surrounding cities, coming east to Wyoming, Oregon, Nevada, Texas, Utah, and other states. The remainder of the tour is to be spent in St. Paul, Minn., for one week, in Minneapolis, another week, and at Indianapolis, the second week in February.
Recently the American Syncopated Orchestra and Singers have been incorporated under state laws. The first clause in the incorporation papers has for its intent and purpose a significant object. The incorporators plan to preserve the music of the colored race and also to cultivate and improve it both vocally and instrumentally.
Will Marion Cook, who remains at the head of this body, is a well-known composer, some of whose songs and arrangements of Spirituals, have gained him country-wide celebrity. He is a gifted musician, magnetic personality, and a fine leader of men. The concerts have been received by the general public with unalloyed pleasure and enjoyment.