The past 13 months have been like an extended year-long treasure hunt. Though I have missed performing in person with my musical colleagues, the year has offered a fantastic opportunity to explore awesome music that was inexcusably missed in my university studies.
As I find music by composers who are new to me, typical questions that I ask myself are:
Am I being open-minded about the music within the context of the composer’s education, time period, and background?
Am I being sensitive and equitable to populations of people that I do not identify myself with in respect to gender, race, age, ability, etc…?
The other day, I read a social post, which has profoundly caused me to question what it means to explore and promote music. I appreciated this post and will work towards being mindful of her words as I continue my research.
Composer Reena Esmail wrote recently on her Facebook post:
There is no need to use the term "underrepresented" in second person.
There is nothing to be gained by telling a person that you are interested in their work because they are underrepresented. I know that these messages are sent with the best intentions, but it feels really icky on the receiving end.
So: instead of saying, "I'm trying to program more underrepresented composers, so I'm interested in your work", you could simply say, "Hello, I would love to program your work!"
Instead of saying, "We are looking to commission a woman of color" you could say, "Hello, we love your music, and we would love to commission you."
Instead of saying, "I am starting an initiative to lift up composers who have been historically underrepresented" you could say, "I think your work is incredible, and I want to share it far and wide so other people know about it too."
It's that easy.
And the best thing is: you can say the exact same sentence to the 'represented' composers whose music you love too! You don't need to treat anyone differently because of their demographic.
Because I am one of those people who claims to be a proponent of music by “underrepresented” composers – this was an important wakeup call for me and I hope Reena’s words will be a sounding board for artistic administrators and music directors as we consider how to make change in our own communities going forward. Diversity can mean many things including gender, race, age, physical ability, and mental ability, however words should not identify who we are as musicians.
Inclusive programming should include great music by diverse populations of people that represent our communities. I will always be appreciative of the western mostly white male composers of the past who have brought beautiful music to all of us. Exploring music by fantastic composers that did not fit into the typical “classical canon” has been frustrating, invigorating, and enlightening.
From my musical treasure hunt, I am MOST excited about inclusive programming that is beginning to be performed by vast numbers of terrific composers that are and should be recognized.
For now, I would love to introduce you to a few composers that may be new to you and who I believe will become regular additions of concert programming across the country.
I hope you enjoy!
Entries will follow the following format:
Composer Name (hyperlink to additional info about the composer)
Titles (hyperlink to more information and recordings)
Link to rental information via publisher or composer
HERE WE GO!
INA BOYLE (1889-1967)
JOSEPH BOLOGNE de SAINT GEORGE (1745-1799) (all of his concerti are awesome!!!)
0.2.0.0 - 126.96.36.199 – strings
ODETTE GARTENLAUB (1922-2014)
CÉCILE CHAMINADE (1857-1944)
188.8.131.52. 184.108.40.206. - timp – Strings
Link to publisher
RUTH GIPPS (1921-1999)
2.2(EH).2.2 - 220.127.116.11 - timp+1, cel – string
SAMUEL COLERIDGE-TAYLOR (1875-1912)
ETHEL SMYTH (1858-1944)
18.104.22.168 - 22.214.171.124 - timp+1, hp – strings
GERMAINE TAILLEFERRE (1892-1983)
ROQUE CORDERO (1917-2008)
FLORENCE PRICE (1887-1953)
And as a bonus - I LOVE ALL OF THESE!!
GRAŻYNA BACEWICZ (1909-1969)
3(P).2.2.2 - 126.96.36.199 – 3 perc – strings
188.8.131.52 - 184.108.40.206, timp +2, hp – strings