SUNY Potsdam Alumnus Burt Mason '97 and Kelly Hall-Tompkins to Perform With the Crane Symphony Orchestra

"Untold Legacies of Black Composers" Concludes With Concert on April 11

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SUNY Potsdam alumnus Burt Mason '97, left, works with Haley Emhof, a freshman music education student, Wednesday during a trombone masterclass at the Crane School of Music.

POTSDAM, NY (04/07/2017) (readMedia)-- SUNY Potsdam's Crane School of Music concludes "Untold Legacies of Black Composers" with a special performance in Helen M. Hosmer Hall on Tuesday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m. Trombonist Burt Mason '97 and Violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins will join the Crane Symphony Orchestra to perform the works of Chevalier de Saint Georges, George Walker, William Grant Still and Burt Mason. The concert will be conducted by SUNY Potsdam professors Ching-Chun Lai and Mark Hartman.

This performance features the compositions of several black composers, including Chevalier de Saint Georges, a man who dealt with the adversities of class, race and society to become a well-respected musician in 18th century France and the first black man to lead France's most important orchestras.

"The Crane School of Music is very proud of its outstanding alumnus Burt Mason for his wide-ranging accomplishments as a musician and for his vision in creating "Untold Legacies" residencies," said Dr. Michael Sitton, the dean of SUNY Potsdam's Crane School of Music. "Through these residencies, Burt not only sheds light on the neglected heritage of contributions to Western classical music by black musicians, but brings affirmation and encouragement to a new musical generation," Sitton said.

About the Artists:

Burt Mason '97 is an active classical musician performing with several orchestras and world class ensembles and is the founder of Ovation Concerts ( He has recognized the glaring disparity and under representation of minorities through his extensive performing experience both within the United States and abroad. Through Ovations Concerts, Mason aims at making an immediate and lasting impact on the demographics within classical music and more specifically the ethnic landscape of the symphony orchestra.

As an advocate for diversity in the arts, Mason was invited to appear as a guest on WQXR's Conducting Business with Naomi Lewin to discuss the history and future of classical music and American orchestras. In addition, he performs regularly with organizations and events that promote artistic diversity in classical music, including the Sphinx Competition and Symphony, Gateways Music Festival and the Colour of Music Festival.

Mason currently serves as Principal Trombone of the Chamber Orchestra of New York. He was formerly solo trombone for the Miami Music Project as well as Principal Trombone and soloist of the New York Staff Band of The Salvation Army. He has performed as guest artist with the New York Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic Brass and the Metropolitan Opera Brass. He has also appeared as soloist with numerous ensembles, performing throughout North America, The United Kingdom, Europe and Australia.

Mason has performed under the baton of such notable conductors as Mstislav Rostropovich, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Skitch Henderson, Alan Gilbert and Sidney Harth among others. For his full bio please visit:

Violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins is forging a dynamic career as a soloist and chamber musician. She has been acclaimed by the New York Times as "the versatile violinist who makes the music come alive" and for her "tonal mastery" (BBC Music Magazine) and "searing intensity" (American Record Guide). Winner of a Naumburg International Violin Competition Honorarium Prize as well as a Concert Artists Guild Career Grant, Hall-Tompkins has appeared as soloist with orchestras including the Dallas Symphony, Oakland Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, Tulsa Philharmonic, Chamber Orchestra of New York and a Brevard Festival Orchestra under the baton of Keith Lockhart.

For thirteen months on Broadway, Hall-Tompkins was the "Fiddler," violin soloist, for the Bartlett Sher production of "Fiddler on the Roof," with numerous solos written especially for her. The New York Times hailed her in a feature article as holding the title role, together with dancer Jesse Kovarsky. Featured as soloist in almost 500 Broadway performances, plus a Grammy-nominated cast album alongside a bonus track by Itzhak Perlman. Hall Tompkins received an Honorary Doctorate from the Manhattan School of Music, her alma mater, in 2016, also delivering the Commencement address. She is also one of three 2017 recipients of the Sphinx Medal of Excellence, which will be presented at the US Supreme Court by Justice Sotomayor.

She earned a Master's degree from the Manhattan School under the mentorship of Glenn Dicterow, concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic. While there, she was concertmaster of both of the school's orchestras. Prior to that, she earned a Bachelor of Music degree with honors in violin performance, with a minor in French from the Eastman School of Music studying with Charles Castleman. While at Eastman she won the school's prestigious Performer's Certificate Competition, several scholarship awards from the New York Philharmonic, and was invited to perform chamber music on the school's Kilbourn Concert Series with members of the faculty. For her full bio please visit:

Founded in 1886, SUNY Potsdam's Crane School of Music has a long legacy of excellence in music education and performance. Life at Crane includes an incredible array of more than 300 recitals, lectures and concerts presented by faculty, students and guests each year. The Crane School of Music is the State University of New York's only All-Steinway institution.