Black Reflections is a three-part panel discussion on Black artistry in concert music. It is hosted by Oberlin Conservatory and the New World Symphony.

Watch the webinar from November 12, 2020


Moderator

Christian McBride

Christian McBride
Photo credit: Anna Webber

Christian McBride is a six-time Grammy Award-winning bassist/composer and the host of NPR's Jazz Night in America. Since the early 1990s, McBride has appeared on more than 300 recordings as a sideman and made his debut as bandleader in 1995. In addition to stints with Sting, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Roy Haynes, Freddie Hubbard, and George Duke, McBride has been artist in residence and artistic director with organizations such as Jazz House Kids, Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Jazz Museum in Harlem, Jazz Aspen, and New Jersey Performing Arts Center-Newark. He tours with his quartet, the New Jawn and fronts the Grammy-winning Christian McBride Big Band, whose Mack Avenue recordings The Good Feeling and Bringin' It won the Grammy for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album in 2012 and 2017, respectively. In addition, McBride hosts The Lowdown: Conversations with Christian on SiriusXM and DJs at clubs as DJ Brother Mister. He was recently named artistic director of the historic Newport Jazz Festival, taking the reins from the festival's longtime artistic director and founder, George Wein. 

Learn more about Christian McBride


Panelists

Afton Battle

Afton Battle
Photo credit: courtesy Afton Battle

Afton Battle serves as general director of the Fort Worth Opera. Her previous experiences include development and strategic consulting work with Red Clay Dance Company, the National Black Theatre, the African American Policy Forum, and Red Olive Consulting. She has served as director of development for the New York Theatre Workshop, director of the annual campaign for Joffrey Ballet, relations and giving manager for the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, and program and grants manager for Bank Street College of Education in New York. 

A native of Amarillo, Texas, Battle graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in voice performance and earned an MM in voice performance and pedagogy from Westminster Choir College.


Toni-Marie Montgomery

Toni-Marie Montgomery
Photo credit: courtesy Toni-Marie Montgomery

Toni-Marie Montgomery is dean and professor at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University. She earned a DMA in piano chamber music and accompanying from the University of Michigan, where she also earned an MM. She graduated magna cum laude from the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts.

Montgomery was a founding member of the Black Music Repertory Ensemble of Columbia College of Chicago, which specialized in performing works by Black composers and promoted appreciation for Black musical heritage. She continues to give recitals and has performed throughout the United States and in Austria, Brazil, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia. Her recent chamber music concerts include performances in Evanston, Ann Arbor, and Los Angeles with cellist Anthony Elliott.

Learn more about Toni-Marie Montgomery.


Joy Payton-Stevens

Joy Payton-Stevens
Photo credit: courtesy Joy Payton-Stevens

Joy Payton-Stevens began playing the cello in her hometown of Cleveland when she was just four years old. She attended Interlochen Arts Academy for high school, and then continued her studies at the University of Southern California under the tutelage of Ronald Leonard. She has been a member of the New World Symphony in Miami, Florida, and the Charlotte Symphony in North Carolina, and joins the Seattle Symphony in the fall of 2014.

In addition to performing music, Joy is passionate about teaching music to kids and has participated in several programs to bring music education to underserved communities. Outside of music, her other interests include cooking, reading and most sports.  She is currently pursuing her MBA at Columbia University and is a faculty member at the Juilliard MAP program as a chamber music coach.


Titus Underwood

Titus Underwood
Photo credit: courtesy Titus Underwood

Titus Underwood is principal oboe of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and previously served as acting associate principal of the Utah Symphony. He earned an MM from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Elaine Douvas, in addition to studies with Nathan Hughes and Pedro Diaz. He earned a BM at the Cleveland Institute of Music as a pupil of John Mack, legendary principal oboist of the Cleveland Orchestra. There, he also studied with Frank Rosenwein and Jeffrey Rathbun. In 2013, Underwood earned an artist diploma from the Colburn School, where he studied with Allan Vogel. Additional teachers include Anne Marie Gabriele, Robert Atherholt, and Joseph Robinson. Underwood has performed as guest principal of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Miami Symphony Orchestra, and Florida Orchestra. He has also played with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony, Puerto Rico Symphony, and San Diego Symphony, and has played principal in Chineke!, Gateways Music Festival, and Bellingham Festival of Music. 

Underwood has taught music lessons and classes and coached chamber music since 2006. He has maintained a private studio and taught in precollege programs at CIM, Juilliard, and the National Youth Orchestras program at Carnegie Hall. He has taught in the Nashville Symphony’s Accelerando program since 2017, and he teaches and mentors for the National Alliance for Audition Support, maintained by the League of American Orchestras, the Sphinx Organization, and New World Symphony. 

Underwoood is a 2021 recipient of the Sphinx Medal of Excellence award.

Learn more about Titus Underwood.