Schooner photo by Alex Shapiro.

 

Looking to broaden the scope
of 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, those who are non-binary, 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, people of color, or those of alternate gender or sexual identities, it's actually very important to take diversity into account when choosing excellent repertoire. The people responsible for creating the music should be a reflection of the people playing it and listening to it!

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, and if you scroll lower down you can gather some easy, useful ideas. Enjoy!

 
 
     
Eagle photo by Alex Shapiro.

 

COMPOSER RESOURCE LINKS
TO EXPLORE

 

     
WEB PAGES, GOOGLE DOCS, and PDFs:  
General:

INSTITUTE FOR COMPOSER DIVERSITY

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

Created by composer 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.

INSTITUTE FOR COMPOSER DIVERSITY

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

THE WIND REPERTORY PROJECT

An online resource for wind band conductors, enthusiasts, and students featuring a great many sub-categories that make it easy to find composers of specific, diverse backgrounds.

Created by band director Nikk Pilato.

WRP

RESOURCES OF UNDERREPRESENTED COMPOSERS

A collection of links to resources and information about composers from many backgrounds.

Created by Major Orchestra Librarians' Association, Inc. (MOLA).

MOLA

...AND WE WERE HEARD

Giving underrepresented composers a platform to have their music heard, …And We Were Heard connects composers to ensembles which record these works so they can be more fully promoted.

Created by a team of band directors including Dr. Kaitlin Bove, Cliff Croomes, Courtney Snyder Ng, Thomas Gamboa, Mary Kate McNally, and Ogechi Ukazu.

...AND WE WERE HEARD

DIVERSIFY THE STAND

Dedicated to working with diverse musical voices to create accessible educational music.

Created by Dr. Carrie Blosser, Ashley Killam, and Hollyn Slykhuis. Bios HERE.

DIVERSIFY THE STAND
Female-identifying:

WOMEN COMPOSERS OF WIND BAND MUSIC

An extensive database including links to composers' websites.

Created by band director Christian Michael Folk. and Dr. Cynthia Johnston Turner.

WOMEN COMPOSERS OF WIND BAND MUSIC

ColourFULL MUSIC

A growing collection of wind band concert programs which represent a diverse selection of composers.

Created by composer Jodie Blackshaw.

ColourFULL Music

DONNE: WOMEN IN MUSIC

Many resources, and notably a significant list of thousands of female composers through the eras, along with their websites.

Created by vocalist Gabriella Di Laccio.

Donne: Women in Music

THE KAPRALOVA SOCIETY

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

Kapralova Society

NEW YORK WOMEN COMPOSERS, INC.

A catalog link created by the oldest advocacy organization for New York-based women composers.

NYWC

WOMEN'S PHILHARMONIC ADVOCACY

Advocates for the performance of women composers by orchestras and ensembles, and presents information that highlights the shortage of programming of works by women.

Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy

FEMALE BAND COMPOSERS

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

Created by composer Jodie Blackshaw.

BLACKSHAW

ARCHIV FRAU UND MUSIK

A German advocacy organization that features resources for discovering women composers.

ARCHIV FRAU UND MUSIK

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 and Megan Mitchell. Currently curated by composer Dana Reason.

MANY MANY WOMEN

CLARINET REPERTOIRE

An ongoing project meant to promote gender diversity in clarinet recital programming

Created by Maggie Greenwood and Anoushka Divekar.

CLARINET REPERTOIRE

ALLIANCE FOR WOMEN FILM COMPOSERS

A community of composers and colleagues who strive to support and celebrate the work of women composers through advocacy and education.

ALLIANCE FOR WOMEN FILM COMPOSERS

MAESTRA

MAESTRA features a database of women who make the music in the musical theater industry. Our membership is made up of female-identifying, non-binary, and gender non-conforming composers, music directors, orchestrators, arrangers, copyists, rehearsal pianists and other musicians who are an underrepresented minority in musical theater.

MAESTRA

SHE IS THE MUSIC

A nonprofit organization with a large database that's helping to increase the number of women working in music – songwriters, engineers, producers, artists and industry professionals.

SHE IS THE MUSIC

MUSIC THEORY EXAMPLES BY WOMEN

A database of excerpts and complete musical compositions by women composers. The music is categorized by theoretical concept for use in music education.

MUSIC THEORY EXAMPLES BY WOMEN

Black, Latino, Asian, American Indian:

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

MUSIC OF ASIAN AMERICA RESEARCH CENTER

The Music of Asian America Research Center (MAARC) strives to empower our communities through collecting, promoting, and teaching music created by Asian Americans.

MUSIC OF ASIAN AMERICA RESEARCH CENTER

ORCHESTRAL MUSIC BY WOMEN OF AFRICAN DESCENT

The Women's Philharmonic celebrates the vast range of orchestral music by women, and encourage orchestras to program it! All around us people are suddenly aware of long-ingrained sexist practices, and questioning their entrenched status. We work to reveal the centuries of music by women, much of it lost to history due to gender bias – and help provide information and resources to make that music available.

Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy

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

CASTLE OF OUR SKINS

The growing repertoire list of a thriving concert and educational series dedicated to celebrating Black artistry through music.

Castle of our Skins

BEYOND ELIJAH ROCK:
NON-IDIOMATIC CHORAL MUSIC OF BLACK COMPOSERS


A growing repertoire list of choral music by black composers.

Created by composer Dr. Marques L. A. Garrett.

BEYOND ELIJAH ROCK

AFRICAN AMERICAN COMPOSER INITIATIVE

The African American Composer Initiative (AACI) presents the works of living and historical African American composers in concert, shares video of these live concerts online, and commissions new compositions.

AFRICAN AMERICAN COMPOSER INITIATIVE

MUSIC BY BLACK COMPOSERS: AN INTRODUCTORY RESOURCE

A living document of recommendations from Juilliard faculty and colleagues that seeks to expand knowledge, and build a more inclusive approach to repertoire.

MUSIC BY BLACK COMPOSERS: AN INTRODUCTORY RESOURCE

SPHINX: COMPOSER RESOURCES

Sphinx Organization has compiled a list of useful links to composers.

SPHINX-RESOURCES

STRING REPERTOIRE BY BIMOC

A working list of pieces for strings composed by Black Indigenous Musicians Of Color.

STRING MUSIC BY BIMOC

COMPOSERS DIVERSITY COLLECTIVE

This organization exists to eliminate the music industry's challenge to find culturally diverse music creators, and to dispel misconceptions about the stylistic range of any minority composer.

Created by composer Michael Abels.

COMPOSERS DIVERSITY COLLECTIVE

NATIVE AMERICAN COMPOSERS

An informative overview of composers.

Written by Gail Wein, for NewMusicBox.

NATIVE AMERICAN COMPOSERS

AMERICAN INDIAN BAND MUSIC

A growing list of band works, and an effort to promote music by American Indian composers in the schools.

Created by composer Brent Michael Davids.

AMERICAN INDIAN BAND MUSIC
LGBTQI2+:

LGBTQ BAND COMPOSERS PROJECT

Created by composer and band director Lee Hartman.

LGBTQ
Sunset photo by Alex Shapiro.
VIDEO and PODCASTS:  

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

LISTENING TO LADIES

A podcast devoted to interviews with women composers, including links to their music.

Created by Elisabeth Blair.

Listening to Ladies

LGBTQ+ MUSIC STUDY GROUP

Promoting academic inquiry into issues of gender and sexuality in the study of music.

LGBTQ+ MUSIC STUDY GROUP

CHAMPIONING DIVERSITY AND FAIRNESS FOR FILM/TV COMPOSERS

ASCAP Experience: Home Edition convened a panel of award-winning composers who are leading the charge for diversity and equity in the screen music community: Starr Parodi, President of the Alliance for Women Film Composers, and Michael Abels, Co-Founder of the Composers Diversity Collective. They analyze the history of screen music's diversity problem, and talk about proactive measures the industry can take to work towards change.

CHAMPIONING DIVERSITY AND FAIRNESS FOR FILM/TV COMPOSERS

DECOLONIZING THE MUSIC ROOM

Helping music educators develop critical practices through research, training and discourse to build a more equitable future.

DECOLONIZING THE MUSIC ROOM

THE DAFFODIL PERSPECTIVE

The classical music podcast creating space for everyone to belong. music educators develop critical practices through research, training and discourse to build a more equitable future.

THE DAFFODIL PERSPECTIVE
     
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 equally shared by:

—Those who, through conversation, education, 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 and teaching in classrooms to practice intentional programming and to put thought into the lesson examples they select. With greater forethought, their concerts and classes will better reflect the diversity of their musicians, students, and 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 or any interactive social media platform 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 their 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 media 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 conditions 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 with differing gender and racial identities— unless someone brings it to their attention.


 
 

Until recently, the music of women and non-white people was not widely distributed. Concert repertoire remained the bastion of white men, with relatively few diverse composers included in the fabric of the canon. The latter part of the 20th century brought long overdue changes in society, and the advent of the internet suddenly offered artistic and financial freedom to composers of all backgrounds. As a result, the majority of repertoire from non-white-male composers is relatively new.

This presents an additional programming hurdle for 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.


 

September 2020

Alex Shapiro discusses diversity, equity and inclusion issues in the music field, with music education students at Rutgers University, with faculty hosts Todd Nichols and Kraig Williams.

 

 

00:00: Historical context: technology advances assisting diversity

05:15: Raising awareness

07:45: Effecting change

17:40: Addressing bias

21:30: Making choices and expanding repertoire; sharing resources

31:05: What defines "good music"?

41:20: Composing and activism


 


     

 

 

October 2020

The New York Chapter of the Recording Academy hosted a discussion about The Institute for Composer Diversity and its efforts, with Rob Deemer (Founder & Director of the Institute for Composer Diversity and Professor of Music Composition, SUNY Fredonia), Dr. Erik Leung (Directors of Bands, Music Dept, Oregon State University) and Alex Shapiro (Composer).

They discuss what makes the Institute unique, why it is necessary, and how it is engaging composers during the pandemic. The Institute for Composer Diversity is committed to the celebration, education, and advocacy of music created by composers from historically underrepresented genders, racial, ethnic, and cultural heritages, and sexual orientations as well as disabled composers.


 


     

 

 

March 2020

Beloved band director Charlie Menghini launched a new podcast series of conversations with composers, conductors, and educators, Band Talk with Charlie Menghini and Friends, and Alex Shapiro was the first of his guests for Episode 2. Charlie posed some direct questions about equity and diversity in concert programming, and Alex was delighted to have the opportunity to address them. To listen to that section of the podcast, please click below.

 

 

Band Talk with Charlie Menghini

  Stream  
Stream
listen
Download
listen
     
Sunset photo by Alex Shapiro.

 

 

FURTHER READING

 

 

Here's a 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

9 BLACK COMPOSERS WHO CHANGED THE COURSE OF CLASSICAL MUSIC HISTORY
From Classical FM

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

10 CONTEMPORARY BLACK COMPOSERS YOU SHOULD KNOW
By Audrey Seraphin

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

FEATURING AFRICAN AMERICAN FEMALE COMPOSERS
From Chorus America

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

WHAT THE OPTICS OF NEW MUSIC SAY TO BLACK COMPOSERS
By Anthony R. Green

9 LIVING BLACK COMPOSERS YOU NEED TO KNOW
By Stephen Raskauskas

MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL,... AM I PROVIDING OPPORTUNITIES REFLECTING ALL?
By Lori Schwartz Reichl

10 BLACK WOMEN COMPOSERS TO DISCOVER
By Jordannah Elizabeth

MUSIC BY BLACK COMPOSERS: AN INTRODUCTORY RESOURCE
The Juilliard School

10 CONTEMPORARY LGBTQ COMPOSERS YOU SHOULD KNOW
From ArtsBoston

WHERE ARE THE FEMALE COMPOSERS IN FILM/TV AND PRODUCTION MUSIC AND WHAT CAN WE DO TO ADDRESS THIS?
By Jenny Oakes

WHY ARTIST-DRIVEN CHANGE IS EXACTLY WHAT WE NEED RIGHT NOW
By Adam Marks

REFRESH YOUR SONIC PALETTE: CONTEMPORARY BLACK COMPOSERS YOU SHOULD KNOW
By Ella Harpstead

TO ALL WHO SHOULD BE CONCERNED
By Dylan Robinson


     

 

 

 

A TOPICAL PUBLICATION

Alex Shapiro is one of six co-authors of the new book, The Horizon Leans Forward...Stories of Courage, Strength, and Triumph of Underrepresented Communities in the Wind Band Field, released by GIA Publications December 2020.

Edited by conductor Erik Kar Jun Leung (Oregon State University), the book includes Ms. Shapiro's chapter, Reaching Out and Bringing Women In, along with those from composer Jodie Blackshaw and conductors Alfred L. Watkins, Robert Taylor (University of British Columbia), Courtney Snyder (University of Michigan), and Erik Leung, each of whom address perspectives of women, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA2S+ composers and conductors of the past and present.

Chapters address such topics as:

 

 

 

GIA Publications

   
Racism and the Black experience in America
and band music

The intersection of Asian culture
and a career in music

The experiences and insights of esteemed
female band directors

Queer identity and visibility in the
wind band world

Encouragement, wisdom, and advice for empowering women in music

Unique approaches to programming
diverse works by diverse composers

Additionally, the publication includes a notable annotated bibliography of works by underrepresented composers.

GIA hosted a February 2021 webinar during which each author discussed their chapter, linked below.

To read more about the book and to order a copy, click HERE: Order book from GIA

   

 

 

 

 


     

 

 

FURTHER DIVERSITY TOPIC VIEWING and RESOURCES

 

watch
watch
Graduate Wind Conductors Assn.:
Authors of The Horizon Leans Forward
discuss the book
March 2021

Hey Band! Network:
Institute of Composer Diversity
August 2020

watch
watch
Inclusive Programming
Composer Collaboration
May 2020

WASBE Worldwide Winds series:
Alex Shapiro with Emily Moss
January 2021

   

 

Anti-Racism Music Resources, from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:



 

read

 

   
     
Sunrise photo by Alex Shapiro.

 

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ENGAGEMENT!

Do YOU know of a link that should be added to this page? SEND US AN EMAIL to let us know! email

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:

SEND US AN EMAIL.
email

 

SHARING!

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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Composer Resources flyer PDF link

 

 

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