Reginald R. Rison (1938-1996) was born in Brooklyn, New York. He studied at The Juilliard School (1951), Fisk University (1951-1953) where he studied composition with African-American composer John Work, and earned a B.A. in piano from Brooklyn College (1953-1955). He earned a M. M. in piano from Manhattan School of Music in 1963 where he studied with Leon Kushner, and a Doctorate of Music Education. Teachers College, Columbia University in 1982 where he studies with Neils Ostbye. He taught music (also English and Spanish) in New York public schools for 25 years (1959-1984) before moving to Dallas, Texas.
In Dallas, he was on the faculties of Paul Quinn College and Bishop College where he was an Assistant Professor of Voice and Piano in the Department of Fine Arts, coordinator of the music program, and director of the choir. He was a member of the Music Educator's National Conference, the College Music Society and the National Association of Negro Musicians.
He was a Trustee of the Voices of Change at Southern Methodist University and the President of Dallas African-American Composers and Performers Organized, Inc (DACAPO)-Dallas which was an organization whose purpose was to concertize (jazz, classical and original music) independently and together in Dallas and throughout the country. They offered an annual scholarship for the purpose of "providing an incentive among Black performers and composers to make public performances exposing their talents and abilities as professional musicians primarily in the Dallas Metroplex." The first scholarship was given in 1989.
He was an active pianist and performed throughout the United States, France, Canada and the Virgin Islands. A versatile artist, he was a singer, jazz dancer and choreographer in addition to his skills as a pianist and composer.
Excerpts from his work Freedom Suite were performed by the Dallas Symphony in 1986 with Barbara Moore as the soloist. The work which was a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights efforts of the 1960s was orchestrated by Donal Rauscher of Manhattan School of Music from RisÛn's doctoral dissertation (May 1982) "A Study, Analysis, and Performance of an Original Composition Entitled work Freedom Suite for Piano work ."
His other compositions include: Choral Works (Blessed are the peacemakers, SATB; Suffer the Children, SATB; Song of Celebration, SATB), piano solo Danse Ethnique, a poem for violin; a song cycle work Three Daily songs work written in 1987; solo songs in 1995 For God So Loved the World and Come Unto Me (Dedicated to Frances Haywood) and in 1996 I am that I am (dedicated to Louise Toppin), and He Restoreth my soul (dedicated to Winifred Thompson).
Music can be purchased by contacting Winifred Thompson, 191 E. 35th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11203; e-mail by GeeCleft@aol.com