Pianist Joshua Thompson, working to spotlight Black composers with concerts, lectures, and a podcast

Posted on: July 15, 2021

“An audience of roughly 125 people—predominantly white and over the age of 50—filled the pews of the Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church in Greencastle, Ind., gathered to hear ‘Black Keys: The Evolution of the Black Classical Arts,’ by [pianist] Joshua Thompson, on June 30,” writes Brandon Drenon in Thursday’s (7/15) Indianapolis Star. “Thompson has been working [to shift] the focus to Black composers since 2018, with the premiere of his … ‘Village Voices: Notes from the Griot,’ [program] at … the Indianapolis Museum of Art. He considers his performances musical TED Talks…. Thompson also co-hosts [the] podcast ‘Melanated Moments’ with opera singer Angela Brown, [showcasing] … works by Black composers…. Thompson [says] his exposure to classical works by Black composers was non-existent prior to his own research… [Speaking to] a group of at-risk children, ages 6-12 [in Greencastle], … Thompson asked, …‘Who can name for me any classical music artists?’ ‘Beethoven.’ ‘Mozart.’ ‘Bach.’ He then asked if they knew of any Black composers. Not a single hand moved. Educating the next generation of musicians is important for Thompson, who recalls feeling lost in the classical music scene as a child without the presence of others that looked like him.”