Sunday, February 21, 2021 The music world’s awakening to women and Black composers will be game-changing

 Pianist Michelle Cann playing the Florence Price 'Piano Concerto' with the Philadelphia Orchestra in a Digital Stage presentation
Screenshot, Philadelphia Orchestra Association Digital Stage

by Peter Dobrin

If you’re like a lot of listeners, most of the time you’ve spent with music up until recently has been like gliding above the icebergs, taking in only what’s been made most obvious. Through a variety of forces, the Beethoven Ninths and Debussy La Mers of this world have risen in stature in concert halls and music schools, somewhat obscuring other major classical statements.

Something is different now, though. Anyone listening to concerts, recordings, and broadcasts over the last year or so might sense an age of new possibility. Just a few years ago, you would be most likely to happen upon a work by a Black composer during Black History Month. Pieces by women, especially women from a previous era, were a rarity year-round. A significant slice of the classical repertoire went largely overlooked.

Now, though, musicians and presenters are finally going deeper and finding a wide audience.

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