Opinion: For Black and women composers, an age of new possibility

Posted on: February 23, 2021

“Anyone listening to concerts, recordings, and broadcasts over the last year or so might sense an age of new possibility,” writes Peter Dobrin in Sunday’s (2/21) Philadelphia Inquirer. “Just a few years ago, you would be most likely to happen upon a work by a Black composer during Black History Month….. Now … orchestras, opera companies, and other performers are commissioning new pieces from women and Black composers…. There’s … an incredibly compelling musical reason to delve into the body of work of underappreciated composers: We don’t know what we don’t know…. One example: The Florence Price revival is in full bloom right now. And yet, as an indication of how much there is still to learn, of the 132 solo vocal works she is thought to have composed, 83 remain unpublished…. In a way, the moment we are in reminds me of how we came to understand who Schubert was. [The first performance of his] Symphony No. 8, ‘Unfinished’ came in 1865, nearly four decades after his death…. Somewhere, in an attic or a music library or maybe hiding in plain sight, are pieces by non-white-male composers that, with the right kind of attention, will open our ears to genius.”