Saturday, February 18, 2017 Why This High School Band Is Only Buying Music From Composers Of Color

Spring Lake Park High School junior Kia Muleta has been playing the clarinet since fifth grade. Kia wants more diversity in her band music. She is often the only black student in band, where most of the music was composed by white men.
Evan Frost / MPR News

Ayatey Shabazz

February 18, 2017

There's a bulletin board at the front of the band room at Spring Lake Park High covered in portraits of the composers who wrote this year's music selection.
The bulletin board isn't new, it's there every year. What's new are the faces: Instead of primarily white men, there are faces of women and composers of color.
"We made a commitment this year to only buy music from composers of color," says Brian Lukkasson, one of the directors.
He says it's been hard, but not because those composers aren't writing for band. They are.
"It's really hard to find music because there's just not a lot of composers of color that are being published," Lukkasson explains.


This year they're playing "Of Honor and Valor Eternal," a tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen, African-American military pilots. It's by Ayatey Shabazz, a black composer from Mississippi. Shabazz says his grandfather knew one of the airmen, and stories he heard as a child inspired the composition.


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Comment by email:
Thanks for sharing, Bill. That NPR story should be shared widely, and we'll be sharing it with our Sonic Safari for Schools outreach band program at the Ferguson Middle School here in St. Louis.  Fredo  [Fred Onovwerosuoke]

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