In the spirit of the month, I wanted to take a moment to highlight some resources for flute music by Black composers and performers that I’ve come across over the past several years.
I’m always in full support of anything that amplifies voices from outside the narrow canon of Western classical music that’s commonly promoted by conservatories and other longstanding institutions.
However, just like for women’s history, promoting this stuff shouldn’t be limited to just one month of the year. If you find any of these resources useful, please re-share them to help spread the word.
PS – none of these links are from affiliates or sponsors – just content from other creators & educators that I’ve enjoyed and found helpful 🙂
This list isn’t extensive, but it does provide brief notes on several pieces to help give a preview of the repertoire highlighted. This is a great place to start if you feel overwhelmed by larger lists and databases.
If you’re looking for flute music by Black composers, this is the largest database I’ve come across. It contains both flute solos and chamber music featuring the flute, and direct links to websites for modern composers. There are about 750 pieces here – so while it takes a bit more time & energy to search through, it’s totally worth it – there’s something here for everyone!
Another extensive list of woodwind music composed by BIPOC composers, mostly from the past century. While it doesn’t include as many flute pieces as the previous database, most of the entries include links to recordings and sheet music, which makes it a bit more accessible. Use the tabs to navigate the spreadsheet – you can find flute music in the first tab.
Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges
Flutronix – Allison Loggins-Hull & Nathalie Joachim
Undine Smith Moore
D. Antoinette Handy was a flutist, educator, and arts administrator who published several databases & resources chronicling the contributions of African American men & women in the field of classical music. She also advocated for jazz music studies, and was the director of the National Endowment for the Arts in the early 90s. The link above connects to a blog post reflecting on her incredible achievements.
Groundbreaking women’s swing band from the 1940s that included Black, Asian, Native American, Hawaiian, Hispanic, and multi-ethnic members.
A list of female African-American flutists from the 20th and 21st centuries. Many entries have links where you can learn more about each performer.
YouTube channel for the Chineke! Orchestra, which highlights performances by Black, Asian, and ethnically diverse musicians in the UK and Europe.
Grammy-nominated wind quintet founded by Valerie Coleman in 1997. The link above will take you to their YouTube page, which features recordings of both historical chamber music and new commissions by diverse composers.
Of course, I had to include Lizzo – did you know that Dr. Carla Hayden, the librarian that invited her to play the collection of flutes at the Library of Congress last year, is the both the first African American and the first woman to hold the post of Librarian of Congress? In the off-chance you only saw the brief clips from Lizzo on-stage during her tour, here’s a video from behind the scenes.
One of my favorite social media creators – I follow him on Instagram, but he’s also on YouTube and TikTok if that’s where you prefer to hang out (all under the handle @babatunde_hiphopera). Following his account is a great way to learn about the history of Black achievements in classical music year-round!
One last note – the movie “Chevalier” is scheduled for release on April 7, 2023, giving a cinematic account of the life of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint Georges. If you haven’t heard of this guy, his story is incredible. He was a fencer, violinist, and composer, among MANY other huge achievements.
I’m not a huge moviegoer, but I’m super excited for this, and glad to see his music becoming more popular among the classical community. If you’re a movie lover, be sure to check it out later this year!