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The Voice of the Black Community

Black History

Spreading awareness of black classical composers
Published Thursday, January 3, 2019

Coloring Book of Black Composers

The Rachel Barton Pine Foundation

Can you name three black classical composers?

Leading classical violinist soloist and mother Rachel Barton Pine can name 350, and over the past 15-plus years has discovered 900-plus compositions by black composers, many of which were previously hidden in the shadows.

The Rachel Barton Pine Foundation Music by Black Composers project is showing the world black classical composers 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 their music 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, Pine and her RBP Foundation have collected works from the 18th to 21st centuries, representing Africa, North and South America, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and Oceania.

This fall, The Rachel Barton Pine Foundation 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.  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barton Pine (www.rachelbartonpine.com) 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.


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