Born in the Bronx and raised in Manhattan’s Harlem section, the music of Kevin Scott has been performed by numerous American orchestras, and was the recipient of the 1992 Detroit Symphony/Unisys African American Composers’ Forum award. Scott’s interest in composition was kindled while he was attending Christopher Columbus High School, educating himself in composition that ensued in readings of his first compositions by the school’s orchestra and band. Upon graduation in 1974, Scott began formal lessons in composition with John Corigliano and Ulysses Kay at Herbert H. Lehman College in the Bronx, and continued his studies at the Mannes College of Music with Christine Berl and David Tcimpidis, in addition to conducting with Yakov Kreizberg.
In 1984, Scott’s Fanfare G.A.F.: An American Overture was premiered by the Queens Philharmonic, which led to a series of commissions from the Brooklyn Philharmonic and Queens Symphony through the New York State Council on the Arts. In 1989, Scott was appointed resident composer for the RAPP Arts Center in Manhattan, writing scores for various theatrical productions including Thomas A. Ditsch’s Ben-Hur and new adaptations of Chekov’s The Sea Gull and Uncle Vanya.
In addition to his works for orchestra and the theatre, Scott has also composed music for chorus, wind ensemble, chamber ensemble and voice, in addition to music for numerous independent films. His sixth string quartet from 1995 was the product of the first William Grant Still Memorial Commission, sponsored by St. Augustine’s College and Duke University and premiered by the Ciompi Quartet. Scott is presently on the faculty of SUNY Orange County Community College in Middletown, New York, where he is the director of that college’s band program. Scott’s thoughts as a composer and conductor are reflected in William Banfield’s book Musical Landscapes in Color: Conversations with Black American Composers, published by Greenwood Press.
A Point Served…(In Rememberance Arthur Ashe)
When the world of tennis lost Arthur Ashe to AIDS in February of 1993, it lost not only one of the sport’s finest players, but also a role model for African-Americans, a man who publicly fought racism and other obstacles to achieve his goal in his chosen profession. Moved by his untimely passing, I decided to compose a work in remembrance of his participation in tennis, as well as his role in the civil rights movement, his quiet dignity and his internal struggle with the disease that took his life.
Scored for an augmented chamber orchestra of winds in pairs, three horns, two trumpets, two trombones, tuba, two percussionists, harp, piano and strings, A point served… opens with a solo xylophone that serves as a figurative representation of the game, which is soon joined by the vibraphone, harp and piano, its pointillistic musings underpinned by a long elegiac line in the strings spelling out Ashe’s name. This theme undulates into a metamorphic transformation within the orchestra, subtly manipulating and infusing the thematic material with chromatic and modal elements, while the winds and brass sections take up their own interpretation of a tennis game, their forces representing the strife and conflict that occurred during Ashe’s lifetime, building up to a climax before subsiding into a brief segment for string choir representing Ashe’s quiet personality in private, which is represented by the cello section and solo viola, before the final conflicts of his life return, sometimes heroic, sometimes tragic until the entire orchestra thunders in a fanfare-like section in which the song “We Shall Overcome” is alluded to in the brass, building to a climax before being abruptly cut off into silence, resuming with the xylophone playing the game, a final heroic sound from muted trumpets and a brief line of reflective eloquence from the English Horn and French Horn, subsiding into silence as the ball drops on the tennis court.