I’m a regular contributor to the #ClassicsaDay feed on Twitter. At a speech in Poland on 7/6/17, the President said, “The world has never known anything like our community of nations. We write symphonies.” The next day #WeWriteSymphonies appeared on Twitter, citing all the non-Western — and non-white — composers who do indeed write symphonies.
To celebrate composers of color, I used both hashtags in my feed for the month of September. Below is annotated list for the second week of posts.
Kenneth Amis (1970 – ) Concerto for Tuba
Amis is a tuba player with the Empire Brass and is on the faculty for the Boston Conservatory and MIT. Most of his works are written for brass instruments or wind ensembles. His Concerto for Tuba is an important addition to the tuba’s repertoire.
Olly Wilson (1937 – ) Voices
Olly Wilson has had a long, successful career in academia, with stints at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and U of C Berkley. As a composer, he’s received a Guggenheim Fellowship and won the Rome Prize. Wilson’s received commissions from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic.
Alvin Singleton (1940 – ) Somehow We Can
Singleton has served as the Atlanta Symphony’s composer in residence and enjoyed a number of important commissions. His music has been characterized as a blend of minimalism, Messiaen, and modern jazz.His 1994 composition for string quartet, “Somehow We Can” is a good example of his style.
Undine Smith Moore (1904-1989) Afro-American Suite
She was a granddaughter of slaves, born in Virginia. over time she would become one of the most prolific composers of color, and a professor at Virginia State University. Most of Moore’s works are choral and have elements of Negro spirituals. Her Afro-American Suite is one of her most-performed orchestral compositions.
Rosephanye Powell (1962 – ) Non nobis, Domine
Alabama native Rosaphanye Powell specializes in choral compositions. In addition to short SATB compositions, Powell has also written large-scale oratorios and cantatas for choirs, soloists, and orchestra. Her work “Non nobis, Domine” takes traditional Latin texts and presents them in a contemporary style that speaks to modern audiences.