Friday, October 19, 2018

Rachel Barton Pine Foundation Draws Music by Black Composers to Center Stage

Rachel Barton Pine Foundation Publishes
the First Pedagogical Book of Classical Works for Students
Through LudwigMasters October 19

Also Available October 19 is
The Rachel Barton Pine Foundation
Coloring Book of Black Composers

Pine's Blues Dialogues 
Album Featuring Black Composers            
Released by Cedille Records October 19

email if you would like access to full tracks

Can you name three Black classical composers?

Rachel Barton Pine can name 350, and has discovered 900+ compositions by Black composers many of which were previously hidden in the shadows.

On October 19, 2018, the internationally-renowned violinist and her Rachel Barton Pine (RBP) Foundation Music by Black Composers (MBC) project celebrate how #BlackisClassical through the release of four landmark projects: MBC Violin Volume I, the first in a series of pedagogical books of music exclusively by Black classical composers; The Rachel Barton Pine Foundation Coloring Book of Black Composers; a timeline poster of 300+ Black classical composers; and Pine’s Blues Dialogues, an album of classical works written by 20th- and 21st-century composers of African descent released by Cedille Records. There are 54 composers represented among the RBP Foundation Coloring Book, MBC Violin Volume 1, and Blues Dialogues, 22% of whom are women.


Celebrate the music of Black Composers by sharing print-at-home coloring pages of composers 
Chiquinha Gonzaga, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, and Joseph Bologne Chevalier de Saint-Georges.
The four projects place Black classical composers and much of their previously overlooked music into today’s cultural consciousness. In doing so, the RBP Foundation hopes to inspire Black students to begin and continue instrumental training, make the music of Black composers available to all people, and help change the face of classical music and its canon. 

Serving on the Honorary Committee for the RBP Foundation’s MBC project are trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, violinist Joshua Bell, actor Leslie Odom, Jr., jazz bassist and composer Stanley Clarke, American mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, pianist and composer Billy Childs, American television commentator Gretchen Carlson, pianist and pedagogue André Watts, Kevin Sylvester and Wilner Baptiste from Black Violin, violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain, and double bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku.  

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, over the last 15 years, Pine and her RBP Foundation have collected more than 900 works by 350+ Black composers from the 18th-21st centuries, representing Africa, North and South America, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, and Oceania.

Sheet music book MBC Violin Volume I
MBC Violin Volume I, published by LudwigMasters, features 22 works for violin (with 2nd violin or piano accompaniment) by 16 Black composers. These works span 1767 to 2014, representing the United States, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Ghana, Nigeria, Switzerland, France, and England. (Please see the end of the release for a complete list of composers.) The playing level is comparable to books 1-2 of the Suzuki Method. 

Violin Volume I includes downloadable reference violin and piano recordings of each piece by Rachel Barton Pine and pianist Matthew Hagle. It also contains biographies of each composer; feature articles about Black orchestras past and present and about famous African Americans who played violin - including Solomon Northup, Frederick Douglass, George Washington Carver, Coretta Scott King, Sheila Johnson; and profiles of three Black role models in classical music: Sphinx founder Aaron P. Dworkin, founder-director of the Hyde Park Suzuki Institute Lucinda Ali-Landing, and concert violinist Tai Murray. Dworkin also wrote the book’s foreword. Videos of Sphinx laureates Adé Williams and Clayton Penrose-Whitmore performing each piece will be available online. 

Rachel Barton Pine explains, “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. 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.”

Violin Volume I is the first in a violin series expected to include eight volumes, graded by difficulty from beginner to advanced concerto-level playing. Additional orchestral instruments will be the subject of multiple future MBC volumes, and subsequent publications will include works for school orchestras and chamber ensembles. 

RBP Foundation Music by Black Composers Coloring Book and Timeline Poster
MBC will also offer a coloring book of 40 prominent Black composers throughout history, drawn by artist and Dallas Symphony violinist Sho-mei Pelletier, featuring a biography of each composer. 

In partnership with the Sphinx Organization, MBC is also creating a timeline poster designed by Sphinx’s Julie Renfro that features more than 300 Black composers from around the world. Both educational tools will be published by LudwigMasters. Composers featured in the coloring book include Florence Price, Jessie Montgomery, J. H. Kwabena Nketia, Daniel Bernard Roumain, José White, Michael Abels, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Wynton Marsalis, Ignatius Sancho, Errolyn Wallen, Eleanor Alberga, Amanda Ira Aldridge, Tania J. Leon, Adolphus Hailstork, Alvin Singleton, and Olly Wilson. 

Blues Dialogues
Recorded with pianist Matthew Hagle, Pine’s Blues Dialogues is an album of classical works for unaccompanied violin or violin and piano with a strong blues flavor written almost exclusively by 20th- and 21st-century composers of African descent. Five living composers are represented in the repertoire: Dolores White, Errollyn Wallen, Daniel Bernard Roumain, Charles Brown, and Billy Childs. Other composers include Duke Ellington, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, William Grant Still, and Clarence Cameron White. (Please see link above or the end of the release for a complete list of composers.)
In his program notes for the album, Mark Clague (Associate Professor of Musicology, American Culture, and African American Studies at the University of Michigan) writes, “Each track draws strength from the tradition of Robert Johnson, Memphis Minnie, Blind Willie Johnson, and Bessie Smith… There are quotes of American fiddle tunes, sonic references to the signal processing of electronic dance music, repairs offered to the racist traditions of minstrelsy, gospel hymns and spirituals, upbeat boogie woogie dance tunes, and screams of anger, frustration, and despair at the killing of Black Americans by those charged to protect them. Each composer draws from the cultural tributaries of the African Diaspora, and each has come to terms with the power of this heritage to forge an utterly personal expression of universal community across time, place, and people.”

It is particularly relevant that Pine should release an album in conjunction with the MBC book and coloring book, as the idea for MBC started with a recording Pine made for Cedille Records in 1997 titled Violin Concertos by Black Composers of the 18th and 19th Centuries. The album features historic compositions by Afro-Caribbean and Afro-European composers from the Classical and Romantic eras that had been previously overlooked. Soon after its release, Pine found herself sitting on diversity panels and fielding questions from students, parents, teachers, and colleagues about where to find more works by Black composers. She quickly discovered that most repertoire by Black composers is out of print or only exists in manuscript. So, in 2001, her not-for-profit RBP Foundation committed to the Music by Black Composers project.  

Spreading Awareness of and Access to Music by Black Composers
The RBP Foundation’s MBC efforts are part of a multi-pronged approach to spread awareness of and access to music by Black composers. The MBC website currently features a directory of more than 170 living Black composers for use by performers, researchers, and those wishing to diversify their commissioning. In addition, MBC has joined forces with the Orchestral Music by Black Composers (OMBC) project founded by scholar-harpist Dr. Ashley Jackson and conductor James Blachly, to build an online database of all composers of African descent, living and deceased, worldwide. The database will feature information about numerous individual works for solo instruments, chamber ensembles, and orchestra, including instrumentation, length, descriptions, difficulty level, where to find the music, links to recordings, and programming suggestions. MBC Advisory Board members include Sphinx Organization Founder and University of Michigan Professor Aaron Dworkin; Guarneri String Quartet violinist, Curtis Institute of Music Professor, and President of the Board of Directors for Opus 118-Harlem Center for Strings Arnold Steinhart; Concert pianist and pedagogue at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Awadagin Pratt; Roosevelt University Professor of Music and Music Institute of Chicago Violin Faculty Almita Vamos, and Henry Fogel, Dean of Roosevelt University’s College of Performing Arts and President of the Board of Directors of Chicago Opera Theatre.

To purchase MBC Violin Volume I, the MBC Coloring Book, or the MBC Illustrated Timeline visit: 

To purchase Blues Dialogues visit

List of the 54 composers represented in the 
MBC Coloring Book (CB)
Blues Dialogues album (BD), and 
MBC Violin Volume 1 (VV1)
[** indicates a female composer]

Michael Abels (1962-), USA – CB 
**Eleanor Alberga (1949-), Jamaica – CB 
**Amanda Ira Aldridge (1866-1956), United Kingdom – CB 
Ephraim Amu (1899-1995), Ghana - CB
David Baker 1931-2016), USA – CB, BD
Basile Jean Barès (1846-1908), USA – VV1
Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799), Guadeloupe, France – CB, VV1
**Margaret Bonds (1913-1972), USA – CB 
Charles S. Brown (1940-), USA – BD 
Harry Burleigh (1866-1949), USA – CB 
Billy Childs (1957-), USA – BD 
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912), United Kingdom – CB 
Will Marion Cook (1869-1944), USA – VV1
Roque Cordero (1917-2008), Panama, USA – CB 
Noel Da Costa (1929-2002), Nigeria, USA – BD 
Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943), Canada, USA – CB 
Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (1899-1974), USA – CB, BD
Joseph Emidy (1775-1835), Guinea, Portugal, United Kingdom – CB 
Felipe Gutiérrez (y) Espinosa (1825-1899), Puerto Rico – VV1
José Mauricio Nunes Garcia (1767-1830), Brazil – CB 
**Gonzaga, Francesca “Chiquinha” Gonzaga (1847-1935), Brazil – CB, VV1
**Sister Marie Seraphine Gotay (1865-1932), Puerto Rico, USA – VV1
Adolphus Hailstork (1941-), USA – CB 
Francis Johnson (1792-1844), USA – CB 
J. Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954), USA – CB 
Scott Joplin (1867/8-1917), USA – CB, VV1
Kenneth Kafui (1951-), Ghana – VV1
Ulysses Kay (1917-1995), USA – CB 
**Tania León (1943-), Cuba, USA – CB 
Wynton Marsalis (1961-), USA – CB 
Thomas J. Martin (19th C.), USA – VV1
**Jessie Montgomery (1981-), USA – CB 
J. H. Kwabena Nketia (1921-), Ghana – CB 
Juwon Ogungbe (1961-), United Kingdom, Nigeria – VV1
**Nkeiru Okoye (1972-), USA – CB 
Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (1932-2004), USA – CB, BD
**Florence Price (1887-1953), USA – CB 
Amadeo Roldán (1900-1939), Cuba – CB, VV1
Daniel Bernard Roumain (1970-), Haiti, USA – CB, BD
Godwin Sadoh (1965-), Nigeria, USA – VV1
Ignatius Sancho (1729-1780), New Grenada, United Kingdom – CB, VV1
Alvin Singleton (1940-), USA – CB 
**Undine Smith Moore (1904-1989), USA – CB 
Hale Smith (1925-2009), USA – CB 
Fela Sowande (1905-1978), Nigeria, USA – CB 
William Grant Still (1895-1978), USA – CB, BD
George Walker (1922-), USA – CB 
**Errollyn Wallen (1958-), Belize, United Kingdom – CB, BD
Horace Weston (1825-1890), USA – VV1
Clarence Cameron White (1880-1960), USA – CB, BD, VV1
**Dolores White (1932-), USA – BD 
José White (1836-1918), Cuba, Brazil, France – CB 
Thomas Greene “Blind Tom” Wiggins (1849-1908), USA – VV1
Olly Wilson (1937-2018), USA – CB 

About Rachel Barton Pine
The Music by Black Composers project was conceived by the award-winning, Billboard chart topping violinist, Rachel Barton Pine ( who performs with the world's leading orchestras and has recorded 37 acclaimed albums. She 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 and she has appeared on The Today Show four times, A Prairie Home Companion, CBS Sunday Morning, Bloomberg Television, CNN, PBS NewsHour and has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post and papers around the world. In addition to the MBC project, her RBP Foundation assists young artists through its Instrument Loan Program, Grants for Education and Career, and Global HeartStrings which supports musicians in developing countries.

For more information, please visit,, and

About LudwigMasters Publications
LudwigMasters is a family owned and operated music-publishing business providing the finest selection of music for band, string orchestra, full orchestra and instrumental music. Call, email or fax orders in: 561-241-6169, Fax 561-241-6347,

About Cedille Records
Launched in November 1989, Grammy Award-winning Cedille Records (pronounced say-DEE) is dedicated to showcasing and promoting the most noteworthy classical artists in and from the Chicago area. The audiophile-oriented label releases every new album in multiple formats: physical CD; 96 kHz, 24-bit, studio-quality FLAC download; and 320 Kbps MP3 download. 

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