Landmark Project (#Blackisclassical) Shines Light on Music by Black Composers

International Musician, February 2019 | Go to article overview

Landmark Project (#Blackisclassical) Shines Light on Music by Black Composers


The internationally renowned violinist Rachel Barton Pine's Music by Black Composers (MBC) project has collected about 900 works by more than 350 black composers from the 19th through 21st centuries. Through the Rachel Barton Pine (RBP) Foundation, the Local 10-208 (Chicago, IL) member has so far released four MBC materials: Music By Black Composers (MBC) Violin Volume 1 pedagogical book; The Rachel Barton Pine Foundation Coloring Book of Black Composers; a timeline poster of more than 300 black composers; and the Blues Dialogues album of classical works written by 20th and 21st century composers.

"In the 15 years since we first conceptualized Music by Black Composers we have had the opportunity to speak with many black musicians about the importance of role models in the arts," Pine explains. "Even today, many aspiring black students live in a community where their particular town's orchestra may not even have a single player of color in it or leading it. As much as they may love the music, they don't see a future for themselves. Our goal is to present a variety of black leaders representing professions in the classical sphere, so that young people may consider the different avenues they may take in music and see someone who looks like them in that role."

MBC Violin Volume 1 is the first in what will be a series of eight violin volumes, graded from beginner to advanced concert level. It features 22 works from 16 black composers. The coloring book features 40 prominent black composers drawn by Dallas Symphony Orchestra violinist and Local 72-147 (Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX) member Sho-mei Pelletier. The black composer timeline poster was created in partnership with the Sphinx Organization.

It is particularly relevant that Pine is releasing an album in conjunction with the MBC books as the idea for MBC started with Pine's 1997 recording Violin Concertos by Black Composers of the 18th and 19th Centuries. …

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