“Landscapes in Color,” a four-part radio series created and hosted by Dr. William Banfield, holder of the Endowed Chair in Humanities and Fine Arts at St. Thomas, will be aired by WCAL-FM starting tomorrow, March 4.

The series is being released nationwide by National Public Radio and is being carried in Minnesota by St. Olaf College-based WCAL, located at 89.3 on the FM dial. The station will broadcast the first two-hour special, “Scott Joplin’s ‘Treemonisha,’” at 4 p.m. Saturday, March 4.

The purpose of the four programs, Banfield said, is to “expose people to great music of black American symphonic composers.” The broadcasts include interviews with contemporary composers blended with performances of their works.

The first program this Saturday will feature a historic rebroadcast of the very first performance of ragtime king Scott Joplin’s 1914 opera, which is considered to be the first opera written by an African American. The opera was never staged in Joplin’s lifetime; its premiere, held in 1972 in Atlanta, was recorded by National Public radio and is considered one of the landmark events in American music.

The three remaining two-hour programs in the series also will be broadcast on WCAL at 4 p.m. on the remaining Saturdays in March. The dates and programs are:

March 11: “‘I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes’: The Music of Adolphus Hailstork,” a concert of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

March 18: “The African-American Epic Suite,” music from the National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta.

March 25: “The Gateways African-American Music Festival,” featuring the premiere of Banfield’s own Piano Concerto No. 1 (“No Mirrors in My Nana’s House”).

Banfield said the idea for the series came to him when he was teaching at Indiana University and had a radio program there. In this new radio series, he brings the stories of legendary and contemporary musicians together.

“This is a delightful undertaking for 89.3 in more ways than one,” said WCAL program director Marty Pelikan. “‘Landscapes in Color’ is an important series, spotlighting works and musicians who deserve to be a lot better known. And we’re especially pleased to work with Bill Banfield who brings solid knowledge, a clear passion for the music, and an infectious excitement about hearing and sharing it.”

Banfield, who joined the St. Thomas faculty in 1997, also is working with WCAL to create several special features to complement the NPR programs.