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Columbia College Chicago
Bill Banfield papers

Bill Banfield papers

Banfield, William C., 1961–

Papers, dated from 1978–2001, including manuscripts and photocopies of musical compositions, correspondence, photographs, clippings and promotional materials, writings. There is also information concerning his music production company BMagic, and Young Artists Development, Inc. (YADI), an educational organization he co-founded in Boston.

5 boxes

Donated by Bill Banfield, 1992, 1994, and 2002, with additional donations expected.

Biographical note:

Dr. William Cedric “Bill” Banfield is currently a professor and director of the Africana Studies/Music and Society initiative at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. He is well known for his original, boundary-crossing compositions and his writings on the black aesthetic and artistic theology.

Originally from Detroit, he had a busy musical life early on, starting guitar lessons at the age of nine, and performing with professional bands from the age of twelve. Banfield next spent several years in Boston, earning a BM in 1983 from the New England Conservatory of Music and a master of theological studies degree from Boston University in 1988. While there, he studied with T. J. Anderson, William Thomas McKinley, George Russell, and Theodore Antoniou. He also established BMagic Operations, a small national record label specializing in local talent.

An educator for all ages, Banfield has taught at numerous community centers and academic institutions; he co-founded the Young Artists Development, Inc. music school in Boston (with fellow composer Stephen Newby) in 1985, a program for young, inner-city artists. Banfield served as its director until 1988. Upon earning the DMA degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1992, he became a professor at Indiana University and travelled as visiting artist and scholar to colleges throughout the United States. In 1993, he established the Undine Smith Moore Collection of Scores and Manuscripts of Black Composers, both the permanent archives and the Extensions concerts featuring these works. In 1997, Banfield held the endowed chair in the Humanities and Fine Arts at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minneapolis; he returned to Boston in 2005 to take up his current post.

Bill Banfield incorporates multiple aesthetic influences into his work, using a variety of symphonic, concert, and jazz idioms while maintaining a unique personal voice. As a composer, he has received awards and grants from both private and government funders, including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Jerome Foundation. Orchestras in a number of cities have commissioned and performed his work including the Detroit, Atlanta, San Diego, and Akron symphonies as well as the National in Washington, D.C.

In addition to his work as an educator, Banfield maintains an equally active performing career in jazz and fusion, appearing with his own trio and leading the B-Magic Orchestra. Recordings of his music in both jazz and concert genres appear on the TelArc, Atlantic, Cedille, and Innova labels, among others. Many of his jazz and popular compositions have also been performed by other artists including Bobby McFerrin, Regina Carter, Don Byron, Rachel Z, Billy Childs, and Nnenna Freelon.

Banfield has served as host for several public radio shows including his own series entitled Essays of Note. Scarecrow Press (Lanham, Maryland) has published several of Banfield's recent books, including Landscapes in Color: Conversations with Black American Composers (2003), Black Notes: Essays of a Musician Writing in a Post Album Age (2006) and Black Notes and Cultural Codes: The Makings of a Black Philosophy of Music (2009).

Currently Banfield serves as chair of Black Music Culture for the Association of American Culture and the Popular Culture Association of America conferences and as executive director of Videmus/ Visionary records. He recently joined Scarecrow Press as its contributing editor of Cultural Studies and Jazz Publications.

Scope note:

The bulk of the collection consists of compositions, including songs and jazz works, but is especially strong in concert music. There are both original manuscripts and photocopies of published and unpublished scores, including sacred vocal music and orchestral works. Several scores contain annotations by the composer and others. Banfield's first six symphonies are represented, and there are four copies of Momma Why? (a little opera), one with performance notes. Unpublished manuscripts include the unfinished 2nd movement for “Zola: Chamber Suite,” written in 1986, three versions (two are manuscripts) of 96/66, Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra dated 1981, 1983 and 1986 (rescored), and the first movement of an early string piece, Quartet No. 1 in E-flat Major, dated 1979. Most of the compositions date from 1981 to 1991, with a smaller number of works dated from 1992 to 2000.

Banfield's personal papers include correspondence from 1977 to 1993, including one folder of composer correspondents. There are flyers and programs documenting his career from the late 1970s to the early 1990s and photographs of his performances and artistic activities, as well as events related to BMagic and YADI. There is also some additional material related to the YADI training program and the performances of the students and documenting the early days of BMagic Operations.

Unpublished writings, primarily student papers include his master's thesis and a book draft entitled “Essays of Note, An Epistle: Reflections on Black American Music Culture.” A student paper in the collection is his analysis of the work of T. J. Anderson, one of his composition teachers in Boston. Three cassettes and a commercial CD are the extent of the sound recordings held, though commercial recordings of many of Banfield's compositions are widely available.

For further information, see his official website: http://www.billbanfield.com