February is Black History Month, and to celebrate, we are highlighting all the fantastic Black composers that have works included in our 2022-23 season. Learn more about Anthony Barfield, Valerie Coleman, Katahj Copley, Adrian Gordon, and Jessie Montgomery:
As part of our winter concert series, Young Peoples Orchestra (YPO) performed “Invictus for Brass” by Anthony Barfield. Barfield is a producer and composer based in New York City. Known for his lyrical writing style, his compositions have been performed throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia. As a former trombonist, he has performed at halls such as Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Dizzy’s Coca-Cola Club, Alice Tully Hall, and the Kennedy Center. Barfield holds degrees in trombone performance from The Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music and holds a lecturer position at Boston Conservatory at Berklee.
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In our upcoming spring concert on May 7th, YPO will perform “Umojia” by Valerie Coleman. Coleman is regarded by many as
an iconic artist who continues to pave her own unique path as a composer, GRAMMY®-nominated flutist, and entrepreneur. Former flutist of the Imani Winds, Coleman is the creator and founder of this acclaimed ensemble whose 24-year legacy is documented and featured in a dedicated exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Committed to arts education, entrepreneurship, and chamber music advocacy, Coleman created the Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival in 2011, a summer mentorship program in New York City welcoming young leaders from over 100 international institutions.
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Our Wind Symphony ensemble played “Infinity” by Katahj Copley as part of their performance for our winter concert series. Copley premiered his first work, Spectra, in 2017 and hasn’t stopped composing since. His compositions have been performed and commissioned by universities, organizations, and professional ensembles, including the Cavaliers Brass, Carroll Symphony Orchestra, California Band Director Association, Admiral Launch Duo, and the Atlanta Wind Symphony. As of 2017, Copley has written over 100 works, including pieces for chamber ensembles, large ensembles, wind ensembles, and orchestras. Copley received two Bachelor of Music degrees from the University of West Georgia in Music Education and Composition in 2021. Aside from composing, Copley is an excited educator who teaches young musicians the joy of discovering music and why music is a phenomenal language.
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Our Symphonette ensemble had a blast performing Adrian Gordon’s “High Rise” as part of their winter concert lineup!
Adrian Gordon is an active performer, composer, and music educator living in Charlotte, NC. His colorful compositions are captivating for musicians of all ages, from very easy to advanced levels. Gordon takes pride in creating fun and pedagogically sound music at all levels and currently serves as the orchestra director at Providence Day School in Charlotte, NC. He received his B.A. in Music from the University of Miami and his Master’s Degree in Music Education from Florida International University. In addition to teaching, Gordon is a composer with Alfred Music Publishing and the founder of Leap Year Music Publishing which publishes string music for elementary, middle, and high school ensembles.
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The final Black composer included on our roster of composers for TRYPO’s 2022-23 season is Jessie Montgomery. YPO performed her piece “Starburst” as part of our winter concert series. Montgomery is an acclaimed composer, violinist, and educator. She is the recipient of the Leonard Bernstein Award from the ASCAP Foundation and the Sphinx Medal of Excellence, and her works are performed frequently around the world by leading musicians and ensembles. Since 1999, Montgomery has been affiliated with The Sphinx Organization, which supports young African American and Latin string players, and has served as composer-in-residence for the Sphinx Virtuosi, the Organization’s flagship professional touring ensemble. A founding member of PUBLIQuartet and a former member of the Catalyst Quartet, Montgomery holds degrees from The Juilliard School and New York University and is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Music Composition at Princeton University. She is a Professor of Violin and Composition at The New School.
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Save the date to come and hear some of these beautiful pieces performed live at our spring concert at Carnegie Music Hall on May 7th! Do you have a favorite Black composer or musician that we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments below!