Blanchard, Price, Hailstork, and more: orchestras spotlight Black composers in 2021-22

Posted on: October 20, 2021

“Terence Blanchard’s Opera ‘Fire Shut Up in My Bones’ just became the first by a Black composer to be performed at the Metropolitan Opera,” reports Noah Sheidlower in Sunday’s (10/17) CNN. “Blanchard … does not believe he’s the first qualified. After listening to ‘Highway 1, USA,’ an opera by Black composer William Grant Still, he was blown away…. ‘It’s a heartbreaking notion to think that these composers are extremely qualified but constantly denied the right to do something that they honestly love.’ Over the past year, many major orchestras and opera houses have tried to amend this…. The Philadelphia Orchestra just released recordings of two Florence Price symphonies and will feature compositions by Wynton Marsalis, Anthony Davis and Valerie Coleman. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra curated concerts featuring composer-in-residence Jessie Montgomery, Elijah Daniel Smith and Adolphus Hailstork. And the Atlanta Symphony will play music from ‘Black Panther’ and bassist Xavier Foley…. Price has ‘equal place on the stage of the Philadelphia Orchestra as the symphonies of Beethoven or Brahms,’ Matías Tarnopolsky, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra, told CNN…. As orchestras nationwide commit to greater inclusion in their repertoire, they’re thinking carefully about programming, context and providing more opportunities to younger artists.”