By Hudson Valley Press
Can you name three Black classical composers?
Leading classical violinist soloist and mother Rachel Barton Pine can name 350, and over the past 15+ years has discovered 900+ compositions by Black composers many of which were previously hidden in the shadows.
As of October, 2018, the internationally-renowned violinist and her Rachel Barton Pine (RBP) Foundation Music by Black Composers (MBC) project, is showing the world how #BlackisClassical through the release of The Rachel Barton Pine Foundation’s Coloring Book of Black Composers.
The project places Black classical composers and much of their previously overlooked music into today’s cultural consciousness. In doing so, the RBP Foundation hopes to make the music of Black composers available to all people, inspire Black students to begin and continue instrumental training, and help change the face of classical music and its canon.
Black composers have created masterful classical music for centuries, yet they are underrepresented in concert programming and in classical music education, silencing a rich vein of works from global consciousness. As young musicians seldom have the opportunity to study and perform classical music by Black composers, aspiring Black music students struggle to participate in an art form in which they do not appear to belong, perpetuating a lack of diversity on stage and among audiences.
With that in mind, over the last 15 years, Pine and her RBP Foundation have collected more than 900 works by 350+ Black composers from the 18th-21st centuries, representing Africa, North and South America, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, and Oceania.
Spreading Awareness of and Access to Music by Black Composers
The RBP Foundation’s MBC efforts are part of a multi-pronged approach to spread awareness of and access to music by Black composers. This fall The Rachel Barton Pine Foundation also released, MBC Violin Volume I, the first in a series of pedagogical books of sheet music exclusively by Black classical composers featuring 22 works for violin from 1767 to 2014. The series is designed to enable everyone from beginners through Mendelssohn Concerto level to include works by Black composers in their studies. Additional orchestral instruments will be the subject of future volumes.
Serving on the Honorary Committee for the RBP Foundation’s MBC project are trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, violinist Joshua Bell, actor Leslie Odom, Jr., jazz bassist and composer Stanley Clarke, American mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, pianist and composer Billy Childs, American television commentator Gretchen Carlson, pianist and pedagogue André Watts, Kevin Sylvester and Wilner Baptiste from Black Violin, violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain, and double bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku.
About Rachel Barton Pine
The Music by Black Composers project was conceived by the award-winning, Billboard chart topping violinist, Rachel Barton Pine (www.rachelbartonpine.com) who performs with the world’s leading orchestras and has recorded 37 acclaimed albums. She became the first living composer to be published as part of Carl Fischer’s “Masters Collection” series with the release of The Rachel Barton Pine Collection. Her performances are heard on NPR and stations around the globe and she has appeared on The Today Show four times, A Prairie Home Companion, CBS Sunday Morning, Bloomberg Television, CNN, PBSNewsHour and has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post and papers around the world. In addition to the MBC project, her RBP Foundation assists young artists through its Instrument Loan Program, Grants for Education and Career, and Global HeartStrings which supports musicians in developing countries.
For more information, please visit rbpfoundation.org, musicbyblackcomposers.org, and RachelBartonPine.com.
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List of the 54 composers represented in the MBC Coloring Book
[** indicates a female composer]
Michael Abels (1962-), USA
**Eleanor Alberga (1949-), Jamaica
**Amanda Ira Aldridge (1866-1956), United Kingdom
Ephraim Amu (1899-1995), Ghana
David Baker 1931-2016), USA
Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799), Guadeloupe, France
**Margaret Bonds (1913-1972), USA
Harry Burleigh (1866-1949), USA
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912), United Kingdom
Roque Cordero (1917-2008), Panama, USA
Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943), Canada, USA
Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (1899-1974), USA
Joseph Emidy (1775-1835), Guinea, Portugal, United Kingdom
José Mauricio Nunes Garcia (1767-1830), Brazil
**Gonzaga, Francesca “Chiquinha” Gonzaga (1847-1935), Brazil
AdolphusHailstork (1941-), USA
Francis Johnson (1792-1844), USA
J. Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954), USA
Scott Joplin (1867/8-1917), USA
Ulysses Kay (1917-1995), USA
**Tania León (1943-), Cuba, USA
Wynton Marsalis (1961-), USA
**Jessie Montgomery (1981-), USA
J. H. KwabenaNketia (1921-), Ghana
**NkeiruOkoye (1972-), USA
Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (1932-2004), USA
**Florence Price (1887-1953), USA
AmadeoRoldán (1900-1939), Cuba
Daniel Bernard Roumain (1970-), Haiti, USA
Ignatius Sancho (1729-1780), New Grenada, United Kingdom
Alvin Singleton (1940-), USA
**Undine Smith Moore (1904-1989), USA
Hale Smith (1925-2009), USA
FelaSowande (1905-1978), Nigeria, USA
William Grant Still (1895-1978), USA
George Walker (1922-), USA
**ErrollynWallen (1958-), Belize, United Kingdom
José White (1836-1918), Cuba, Brazil, France
Olly Wilson (1937-2018), USA