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Whispering Through the Music

It’s a bitter sign that we’re still living in the era of “firsts” when it comes to Black representation in classical music. The first Black musician to hold a principal chair in the New York Philharmonic did not secure that spot in the first decades of the orchestra’s founding; nor in the explosive heyday of […]

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Digging

Cassie Kinoshi’s compositions appear on her SoundCloud in a couple of unassuming annual collections. The six-minute clips are given generic titles like “Compositions: Instrumental Showreel 2020.” But beneath their utilitarian form lie collections of substantial creativity. “Afronaut,” a gritty Afrofuturist track from the Mercury Award-nominated SEED Ensemble, sits alongside “If She Could Dance Naked Under […]

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Cultural Gumbo

Titus Underwood is the principal oboist of the Nashville Symphony in Tennessee. In February, he became the first Black tenured principal oboist of an American orchestra. Originally from Pensacola, Florida, Underwood attended the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Juilliard School, and the Colburn School, studying with legendary oboists John Mack and Elaine Douvas. This year, […]

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Lived Experience

“I don’t know if you can hear the helicopters overhead,” guitarist Sean Shibe said as he introduced his encore. The helicopters were policing a Black Lives Matter demonstration just down the road from the Wigmore Hall. Shibe’s encore was a guitar arrangement of Peter Maxwell Davies’ “Farewell to Stromness,” a piece of protest music written […]

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Ritual Time

When people bring up the rituals of the classical concert hall, it usually isn’t to celebrate them. Countless blog posts, newspaper columns, and tweets have criticized the unspoken formalized rules of such performances—especially rules about when it is appropriate to clap—for being barriers to new listeners not already steeped in the culture. Whatever the merit […]

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Beauty is a Process

Miami-based composer and saxophonist Matthew Evan Taylor’s career has formed an impressive arc—from playing jazz and blues in Mississippi, to being signed with rock band Moses Mayfield to major label Epic Records, to receiving his doctorate in composition. These days he is engaged in composing and performing new music and opera, and is an active […]

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Faces of Change

Chineke! is Europe’s first black and minority ethnic orchestra. Founded by Chi-chi Nwanoku, its artistic director and the principal double bassist of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the ensemble is made up of independently active musicians who come together especially for projects. The name derives from a word in the southeastern Nigerian language […]