Today marks the 80th anniversary of the iconic US athlete Jesse Owens winning the 100m final during the 1936 Berlin Olympic games. To mark the occassion Michael is delighted to announce the upcoming release of a new recording, Jesse Owens & Preludes In Our Time, to be released on Stone Records, on Friday 12th August. The CD includes a performance by the Philharmonia Orchestra of the incidental music from his opera, Jesse Owens. This is accompanied on the CD by a collection of songs from the opera, and a recording of a recent work for piano, Preludes In Our Time.
Widely considered to be the greatest Olympian ever, the story of Jesse Owens’ life is an extraordinary one, encompassing struggle and success. Surviving a childhood brush with death, he rose from extreme poverty to triumph at the 1936 Berlin Olympics under the disapproving eyes of Hitler. Shortly after his Olympic success, Jesse Owens was banned by the American athletic authorities. He entered a period of decline, and struggled to make a living from various business ventures, even being forced into racing motorbikes and horses for money. But by the time of his death from lung cancer in 1980, he had achieved the recognition and respect that he deserved. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1976, and his reputation has continued to grow posthumously, in both the African-American community and society at large.
Taken from pivotal moments of Jesse’s story, the incidental music is built from five sections of the main opera, including the opening overture, the games, and the empty stadium of Berlin. The contrasting music, delicate and violent, melancholy and exhilarating, is performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Stuart Stratford. This full orchestration is complimented on the CD by a collection of songs from the opera, arranged for soprano, baritone and piano. Recorded by Abigail Kelly, Johnny Herford, and Megumi Fujita, many scenes are brought to life, from the young Jesse Owens meeting his future wife, to the racism in the US, and the trials and tribulations after Jesse had won his four gold medals. Many of these songs bring to life the poetry of the award-winning John Agard and Grace Nichols, who combined with Michael to construct the libretto.
The CD is completed by Preludes in Our Time, recorded by the highly-regarded Japanese pianist, Megumi Fujita, who premiered the work at London’s St John’s Smith Square.
Jesse Owens & Preludes In Our Time
Released on Stone Records
Available to pre-order from
Jesse Owens licensed by the Jesse Owens Trust c/o Luminary Group LLC.