Schooner photo by Alex Shapiro.

 

Looking to broaden the scope
of your concert programming?

 

 

EXPLORE THIS PAGE TO DISCOVER TALENTED COMPOSERS OF DIVERSE BACKGROUNDS!





Quick links on this page

 

 
 
 
 

 

WHAT'S THIS PAGE ABOUT?

 

 

Many conductors, directors, ensembles, and curators want to program the music of women and people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, but sometimes don't know where to find these works.

Thus, there's the very human tendency to program the composers and pieces that they already know.


 
     
 


It's not uncommon for someone to say, "I don't care about gender or race, I just want to program excellent music!"

Absolutely: we can't think of anyone who would prefer to program non-excellent music. That's a perfectly reasonable sentiment, and in a perfectly balanced world this page of resources wouldn't be needed.

Unfortunately at the moment, with only about 5% of all programmed concert and film music being composed by women and people of color, it's actually very important to take diversity into account when choosing excellent repertoire.

We call this, intentional programming.

There's a LOT of excellent music being written by composers of all backgrounds-- it just takes an extra moment to discover these pieces. The many links on this page will help!

 
 
     
Eagle photo by Alex Shapiro.

 

COMPOSER RESOURCE LINKS
TO EXPLORE

 

     
WEB PAGES, GOOGLE DOCS, and PDFs:  

COMPOSER DIVERSITY DATABASE

An easily searchable database that allows conductors, performers, presenters, educators, and researchers to expand their scope of composers and repertoire.

Created by band director Rob Deemer.

Read a January 2, 2018 article that Rob Deemer penned for Drew McManus's blog Adaptistration, explaining the process involved in creating this resource. Then, read Rob's follow-up article six months later in which he describes the process of the database expansion.

To add or update a listing, click HERE.

COMPOSERS DIVERSITY DATABASE

DIVERSE COMPOSERS OF WIND BAND MUSIC

Covering nearly 3,500 pieces, this database includes three separate sheets for women composers, composers of color, and LGBTQIA+ composers, that are sortable by grade level, length, and have links to perusal scores and YouTube videos.

Created by band director Christian Michael Folk.

DIVERSE COMPOSERS

MUSIC BY BLACK COMPOSERS

MBC's Living Composers Directory is designed for those seeking to commission; for performers, conductors, and concert programmers seeking existing music; and for other researchers and scholars of contemporary classical music.

Created by violinist Rachel Barton Pine.

WRP

THE WIND REPERTORY PROJECT

An online resource for wind band conductors, enthusiasts, and students.

Created by band director Nikk Pilato.

WRP

FEMALE BAND COMPOSERS

A listing that focuses on works for playing grades I - IV.

Created by composer Jodie Blackshaw.

BLACKSHAW

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S BRASS CONFERENCE

The list of brass works commissioned from women composers as part of the annual IWBC Composition Commission Projects.

IWBC

MANY MANY WOMEN

An index of composers, improvisers and sonic artists.

Created by composer Steve Peters.
Currently curated by composer Megan Mitchell.

MANY MANY WOMEN

LGBTQ BAND COMPOSERS PROJECT

Created by composer and band director Lee Hartman.

LGBTQ
THE COMPOSERS EQUITY PROJECT: A Database of ALAANA,* Women, and Gender Non-Conforming Composers.

Created by Chamber Music America to represent composers who identify as female and African/Black, Latinx, Asian/South Asian, Arab/Middle Eastern, and Native American.
CMA

NEW YORK WOMEN COMPOSERS, INC.

Created by the oldest advocacy organization for New York-based women composers, NYWC.

NYWC

THE KAPRALOVA SOCIETY

A collection of databases linking to women composers, past and present, around the world.

Kapralova Society
Sunset photo by Alex Shapiro.
YOUTUBE and VIMEO:  

CURATED PLAYLIST of women wind band composers.

Created by band director Christian Michael Folk. Christian has also written a blog post on this topic, which you can read and share, HERE.

YOUTUBE

110 WOMEN COMPOSERS LINKED TO YOUTUBE VIDEOS OF THEIR MUSIC. Enjoy clicking around!

Created by Roger Gunn and Rob Deemer.

THINGLINK

WOMEN WHO SCORE

Watch this inspiring documentary short film about women composers in the film and video music world, from director Sara Nesson.

For more information about women composers for media, visit the Alliance for Women Film Composers.

VIMEO
     
Islands and mountain photo by Alex Shapiro.

 

ACTION POINTS
FOR DIVERSITY, EQUALITY,
AND INCLUSION

 

 

There are at least four prongs to achieving a diverse musical community of composers, instrumentalists, conductors, and anyone else in the field. The responsibility is shared equally with:

—Those who, through conversation, writing, and social media, can keep the realities of inequity in the public consciousness,


—Those who are curating concerts and/or commissioning composers,


—Those who are professionally established, and


—Those who desire their work to be known in the field.


 
 

1. PERSISTENCE:

Encourage your peers to join you in using the power of the pixel to raise everyone's consciousness about ongoing inequities. Part of the success of the #metoo movement has been the constant media coverage, making the issue unavoidable and part of the fabric of daily conversation. Use opportunities to converse, write, and post about the need for diversity.


 
 

2. AWARENESS and INTENT:

Encourage those curating concerts to practice intentional programming. With greater forethought, their concerts will better reflect the diversity of their own musicians as well as of their own audiences, and serve to inspire the next generation of composers.

One fast and highly effective way of diversifying a concert is for an ensemble director to use the power of Facebook to crowd-source! Whenever someone posts a specific question like, "who are the female composers with short wind band fanfares" or, "give me the name of a composer of color who has an anthemic piece under 10 minutes with a big ending," etc., the responses pour in immediately and introduce everyone reading that thread to many terrific composers who were not previously on our radar.

 
 


3. ACTION:

Encourage those on the inside of the circle to reach beyond its edges to talented individuals, and expose these newcomers to possibilities of which they might not be aware. Everyone was once an outsider.

When established ensemble directors and composers meet newer composers, they can introduce these fresh faces to colleagues, let them know about opportunities, and encourage them to attend conferences and other events at which they can further build their own networks. It won't be long until those composers are doing the same for their peers. A supportive community is one of the best aspects of our expanding music world.

 
 
 

4. INITIATIVE:

Encourage those who are not yet known to their established peers to take the initiative, and introduce themselves and their work.

Below are a few effective things composers, conductors and others can do that will help them become part of the fabric of the professional world:

—Attend concerts:

Say hello to the participants afterward, and follow up with a friendly, personal email (NEVER a bulk mailing). If appropriate, include a website link, especially one to a specific piece or event that might be of interest to the performers.

—Attend conferences:

Armed with business cards and CDs or thumb drives to hand out, walk the aisles and engage with people at the booths, go to the workshops and chat with the participants afterward, and participate in social events.

—Be present in interactive online communities:

Avoid posting too often solely about oneself, in favor of posting things geared toward a broader swath of other people's interests.

—Get involved with music advocacy organizations:

Join national and international groups and be engaged with them online, and become active with local groups. There is a wealth of knowledge, camaraderie, and potential opportunity to be had through the joy of volunteerism and improving the scene for one's peers, whether or not one's already established.


 

MORE THOUGHTS

 

 

The vast majority of [usually but not always white male] music curators are not intentionally discriminatory — it just doesn't occur to them to have a closer look at their programming choices. Yet a lack of purposeful inclusion usually ends up excluding anyone not already in a curator's immediate sphere.

Think of swimming in tepid water: when the water is about the same temperature as our body, we're not really aware of it, because it's as though it's a part of us. The same thing is true for many conductors and ensemble leaders: when every composer they program looks like them, it's natural that they don't "see" the lack of composers who are women or people of color— unless someone brings it to their attention.


 
 

Until recently, the music of women and people of color was not widely distributed. Concert repertoire remained the bastion of white men, with relatively few diverse composers included in the fabric of the canon. As a result, the majority of repertoire from non-white-male composers has been created in the past 70 years, in the 20th and 21st centuries. This presents an additional programming hurdle to some curators: the need to include contemporary music on their programs.

The boon in technology has changed the music world for the better, and offers all composers an equal opportunity to share their art. There are thousands of fresh musical voices of all races and genders, and many of them are composing works of excellence. Now it's easier than ever to find the voices that speak to us, program those composers, and expose audiences to the music of their own time.

Let's keep expanding these lists and expanding our awareness! This growing series of aggregated links aims to make it easy for everyone to experience the diversity of composers and the joys of their music.


 
     
Sunset photo by Alex Shapiro.

 

FURTHER READING

 

Here's a random sampling of recent articles that paint of clear picture of the history of inequity, and the ongoing work to correct the problem.

WIDENING INCLUSION & VISIBILITY
by Christina Rusnak


PLAYING LIKE A GIRL: THE PROBLEMS WITH RECEPTION OF WOMEN IN MUSIC
By Carrie Leigh Page and Dana Reason

#TOTHEGIRLS FROM THE MOST POWERFUL PEOPLE IN NEW MUSIC
by Carrie Leigh Page

THE LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF GENDER DISCRIMINATORY PROGRAMMING
By Emily Doolittle

THE SLOW SILENCING OF SEXISM AT THE SYMPHONY
By Tom Jacobs

WHO RUN THE WORLD? FEMALE MUSIC INDUSTRY LEADERS CONFRONT THE GENDER PAY GAP
By Ben Gilbert

THE SOUND OF SILENCE: FEMALE COMPOSERS AT THE SYMPHONY
By Tom Huizenga

COLLECTIVE MANAGEMENT ORGANISATIONS EXAMINE GENDER EQUALITY AND COMMIT TO ACTION PLAN AT CISAC GENERAL ASSEMBLY
by CISAC staff writers


OREGON SYMPHONY'S DIVERSITY DEFICIT
By Damien Geter

THE HARD WORK BEHIND "IN VOGUE"
By Aiden K. Feltkamp

     
Sunrise photo by Alex Shapiro.

 

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Do you know of additional composers who should be included in these lists? Each of these links welcomes suggestions! Get directly in touch with the individual curators of these resources, or:

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Let's keep expanding these lists and creating additional ones. This growing series of aggregated links aims to make it easy for everyone to experience the diversity of composers and the joys of their music!

 


 

 

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