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Stephen Spottswood

Stephen Spottswood

COLUMBUS, OHIO, MARCH 1, 2022 – Sundays in March, WOSU Classical 101 will air New Perspectives: From Bach to Biggie hosted by Stephen Spottswood, founder of the Columbus Cultural Orchestra. The four-part series offers a different context for music that many listeners may already know. Spottswood will present standard classical music repertoire through the prism of gospel, rap and hip-hop. He brings his unique perspective to the music of Chopin, Elgar, Tchaikovsky, Mozart and Haydn.

“Chopin has to be Black,” says Spottswood. “Of course, he’s Polish and is a national hero in Poland, but his music is international and transcends cultures. For me, his compositions can be reminiscent of a gospel organ player in the back of the old Baptist church. Baptist organ playing is an improvised art form where the organist accompanies the preacher in the pulpit.”

New Perspectives: From Bach to Biggie airs Sundays in March from 1:00–2:00pm on Classical 101 starting March 6.

“This program is a chance to refocus the classics, to listen to music in a new way,” said Christopher Purdy, Classical 101 broadcast manager and on-air host.

Purdy, who is also executive producer of New Perspectives: From Bach to Biggie, first met Spottswood when he was an undergraduate music student at Capital University. Having worked closely with the Urban Strings program founded by Catherine Willis, Spottswood had impressive knowledge, strong skills as a string player … and passion.

Says Spottswood, “As a music educator, I’ve been able to put a violin into the hands of a kid who only knows gang and street life. I tell him, ‘You have baby brothers and sisters at home. I want you to hold this violin like a little child.’ I say that to them, and sometimes, the lights go on.” And that is New Perspectives: From Bach to Biggie.

In January of 2020, Spottswood founded Columbus Cultural Orchestra whose mission is to advance a collective of multi-generational musicians of color by performing high-quality music. A native of Silver Spring, Maryland, Spottswood moved to Columbus to study music education at Capital University. He proceeded to inspire students and communities as the Musical Director of the inner-city youth orchestra Urban Strings Columbus. Stephen went on to start his solo career performing as a hip-hop and jazz violinist, while simultaneously working as a middle school orchestra teacher at Reynoldsburg City Schools. Spottswood has worked to inspire African American classically trained musicians to incorporate contemporary genres in their performance. Spottswood is married to Jhay Spottswood, and they live in Olde Towne East.

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