2020-21 School of Music EDIB Progress Report

Outlined in this document are the ways in which the School of Music community, both faculty and students, are actively addressing equity, diversity and inclusion, and specifically, the intentional, historical disregard for the contributions of nonwhite, female-identifying, and LGBTQIA+ musicians and composers.


The document begins with the schoolwide initiatives planned for the 2020-21 school year, and curricular changes or additions which impact a broad range of our students. However, music curricula are uniquely specialized and individual. There are very few macro-level facets of our instructional output that apply to all our students. Because of this, I have encouraged faculty in the School of Music to describe and document the ways in which they are addressing inequality in their individual areas of teaching. This list will continue to evolve as we listen and learn about ways in which we can be more inclusive, in order to better serve our students and the community. Below are the many small initiatives that I believe add up to significant and meaningful change.

- Saxton Rose, Interim Dean of the School of Music

Performances, Projects and Special Topics

Vivaldi Project

The Vivaldi Project is one of our important ongoing community engagement endeavors focused on equity, diversity and inclusion. It is an artistic and educational project that cuts to the heart of racial inequality, injustice, and lack of opportunity and exposure to art music in our community. Together with ArtistCorps, it forms a potent endeavor aimed at working to correct these iniquities. For six years we have educated and brought early general music education and violin playing to underserved children at Diggs-Latham School, with astounding resonance. Read a recent article about the project, detailing activity and the profound impact the initiative has had.

Vivaldi Project

UNCSA students participate in the Vivaldi Project at Diggs-Latham Elementary School. (Photo taken prior to COVID-19 pandemic.)

The Vivaldi Project is continuing under COVID-19 parameters to work with the children at Diggs-Latham, as well as with children in other underserved communities through ArtistCorps. We plan to create “Vivaldi Emissaries,” with graduating students and alumni taking the training they received with us into needy and underprivileged areas throughout the U.S. and into the international arena.

Jessica McJunkins Guest Performance, Residency and Artpreneur Award

We invited School of Music alumna Jessica McJunkins (Lady Jess) to perform, as soloist, violin works by Joseph Bologne Chevalier de Saint-Georges with our string orchestra in November. McJunkins enjoys an exciting career, having performed with Beyoncé, Stevie Wonder, on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” with The Roots, at Radio City with Solange, at the Apollo with Lauryn Hill, and at the Sydney Opera House with Max Richter.

Afro-French composer, violinist and conductor Joseph Bologne, the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, was one of the most remarkable figures of the 18th century. The music of Saint-Georges, recently dubbed “The Black Mozart,” has been largely overlooked.

As part of the November performance, Chancellor Brian Cole presented McJunkins with the Alumni Artpreneur of the Year Award. Artpreneur is a program at UNCSA created in 2017 to support alumni who establish creative projects and creative enterprises of the highest merit, artistic excellence or innovative potential. McJunkins’ $20,000 award will support her work as a cultural equity contractor for artists of color.

Student-Led Concert Featuring Composers of African Descent

A livestreamed concert in October, led by students of the Ida Bieler and Janet Orenstein Violin Studio, directly supports UNCSA's Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Framework. Organized by our current violin students, the concert program embraced the music of African American composers. The concert featured a transcription of compositions by William Grant Still performed by the entire studio to form a violin and viola choir. In addition, lesser-known works by underrepresented African American composers in the violin repertoire were presented. Both students and faculty are reaching out to community organizations such as retirement homes and domestic violence shelters in hopes of providing quality performances while increasing diversity in the classical repertoire.

The first concert was livestreamed to the Brookridge Retirement Community in Winston-Salem on Oct. 16, 2020. In addition, the studio plans to share the concert with other organizations.

School of Music Faculty Recording Release

Interim Dean Saxton Rose has embarked on a schoolwide professional recording project featuring works only by female-identifying composers of color. Various faculty and faculty ensembles, including the Watson Brass Quintet and Reynolda String Quartet, as well as Jaren Atherholt, Dmitri Vorobiev and Robert Young, are working to complete this full-length album of works by composers Reena Esmail, Jessie Montgomery and Valerie Coleman. The album will be the first release on the newly formed UNCSA Productions recording label.

New Library Acquisitions Initiative

The School of Music has begun an initiative with the UNCSA Library to identify and purchase more works of underrepresented composer groups, prioritizing these acquisitions for more equitable representation in the collection. This initiative also seeks to identify and retain online databases and streaming resources that feature the work of underrepresented composer groups and performers, and to provide the training to use these resources to our students and faculty. To this date, the UNCSA Library has allocated $2,000 from its endowment funds, with another $2,000 of Library endowment funds planned to be released in fall 2021. University Librarian Sarah Falls will work to identify additional funds through Advancement, grant-writing, and other means to put in place a continued process to diversify our collection well into the future.

Concerto Competition

The School of Music holds an annual concerto competition, with student winners earning the opportunity to perform as soloists with the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra or Wind Ensemble. This year we made a change to the method of adjudication. Student performers will compete live as usual; however, our three jurors will view and adjudicate the competition remotely using our livestreaming technology in Watson Chamber Music Hall. This change allows us to invite jurors to participate from all over the world, with a diverse panel as a priority. The following acclaimed musicians have agreed to serve as judges for our concerto competition this spring: Marin Alsop, Demarre McGill and Violaine Melançon.

New Special Topics Course 

New for 2020, this two-semester course explores music in the context of six topics: protest, gender, technology, war, religion, and the environment. Each unit investigates one of the six topics (three topics per semester) and covers a variety of genres and style periods, including music from classical, popular, roots, world, and Indigenous musics. The goal of each unit is to examine the cultural context in which music is created and performed, challenging students to think critically about the role music plays in both contemporary and historic events.

Performance Hour

Performance hour is a weekly forum for students to perform in public before their peers and the faculty, with attendance required by all our high school and undergraduate students. This year we have begun to include online discussions and presentations with diversity and inclusion as a priority.

On Sept. 16 the School of Music hosted a discussion about current and historic issues concerning artists of color with guest lecturer William Lake, assistant professor of conducting at the Crane School of Music at SUNY-Potsdam.

In March, the School of Music will host Lecolion Washington to present his workshop on Interrogating Excellence. Description: Musicians work tirelessly to bring their artistry and technique to the highest levels possible. But as the chamber music field delves into issues of inclusion and equity, the words “quality” and “excellence” emerge, often as exclusionary factors. This session will examine these and other descriptive words that can become barriers to inclusion, and will offer alternative language that respects and describes the art and artists that comprise the 21st-century chamber music field.

We have invited Ashley Killam, founder of Diversify the Stand, to give a presentation during the spring semester to all our high school and undergraduate students. Diversify the Stand is an organization working for the sustainable inclusion of diverse voices in all facets of music, and seeks to “Diversify the Music Stand” by listening, learning, and promoting diverse musical perspectives. In her presentation, Killam will showcase underrepresented composers and their works, and highlight ways we can successfully integrate new works and composers into our programming and teaching.

High School Special Topics Presentation

The School of Music, in collaboration with the High School Academic Program, has invited UNCSA high school alumnus Steven Banks to give an online presentation in March to our high school student body about his work as an advocate for diversity and inclusion in music education, performance, and newly commissioned works in the classical realm. In 2017 he gave a talk at the TEDxNorthwesternU conference with ideas about how to create change in institutionalized prejudices against women and people of color. Since the talk, Banks has written an article for WQXR and given guest lectures on the history of black classical composers. Banks is assistant professor of saxophone at Ithaca College and the baritone saxophonist of the award-winning Kenari Quartet.

Large Ensemble Seminar

The History of Symphonic Literature Redefined with the Inclusion of Women and Composers of African-Descent: Professor Mark Norman will lead with several guests examining the history of Symphonic Literature with the elimination of systemic racism that allows women and artists of African descent their place in history along with more traditionally recognized colleagues.


Current and future School of Music programming does not just include works by more artists of color and women, but those artists and their works will be thoroughly researched, sought after, developed, fostered, and proudly rehearsed and performed by our large and chamber ensembles as vital repertoire representing the history of symphonic literature.

Balinese Gamelan Ensemble

Students in the ensemble have the opportunity to learn about and perform works from Indonesia, including opportunities to work with Indonesian and Indonesian American artists. This semester includes a particularly diverse group of participants with the ability to engage artists throughout the world through virtual class structures.

Selected repertoire by composers of historically underrepresented groups the School of Music students will perform in 2020-21

These selections are subject to change because of possible ensemble restrictions due to COVID-19.

Compositions by composers who are Black, Indigenous and people of color:

  • Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Symphonie Concertante for String Orchestra and 2 Violins
  • Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Concerto No. 2 for Violin and String Orchestra
  • Quinn Mason: “Changes/Transitions” (East Coast Premiere) for Brass and Percussion Ensemble
  • Carlos Simon: “Elegy. A Cry from the Grave” for String Quartet
  • Carlos Simon: “be still and know, for Piano, Violin, Cello, and Student Commentary”
  • Angelica Negron: “Gone” for 4 Percussionists and Electronics
  • Allison Loggins-Hull: Hammers for Flute and Percussion Quartet

Compositions by Female-identifying Composers:

  • Ruth Gibbs: “Seascapes” for Wind Dectet
  • Anna Clyne: “Steelworks” for flute, bass clarinet, percussion and film and tape
  • Angelica Negron: “Gone” for 4 Percussionists and Electronics
  • Allison Loggins-Hull: Hammers for Flute and Percussion Quartet
  • Danielle Fisher: Wind Ensemble Works for Small Band

The Jazz Ensemble will perform compositions by BIPOC composers Luiz Bonfa, Billy Strayhorn, Kenny Dorham, John Coltrane, Horace Silver, Frank Foster, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Erroll Garner, Walter Davis Jr. and Elmo Hope.

Music Classes and Curriculum

Aural Skills

In the Graduate Aural Skills course, Professor Robert Rocco devoted several sessions to harmonic trends in the 20th century. In the past he has chosen to illustrate these with examples from Debussy and Hindemith. This semester, he will explore the music of American composer Florence Price to highlight the use of modes in 20th-century writing, as well as her use of orchestration, insofar as how that affects the way we hear musical statements.

Keyboard Skills

In classroom keyboard skills classes, more jazz and popular music using lead-sheets will be used and improvising using lead-sheets and playing by ear will be emphasized. Identifying hymns used in more diverse worship services will also be part of the curriculum. These hymns are often attributed to groups (such as "African American spirituals"), composed by people of color, or have evolved into social justice songs ("Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" and "We Shall Overcome" are examples). Hymn/chorale playing increases reading skills, reinforces common chord progressions, and serves as excellent transposition exercises. Creative projects involve compositions and improvisations using scales, forms and rhythms that are associated with more diverse music styles. The 12-bar blues is one example.

Music Theory

Professor John Ferri will incorporate music either composed by, or performed by BIPOC musicians in his Music Theory courses. It is already part of the class to some extent, but this term will include greater representation. Examples this year include:

  • High School Music Theory Singing Assignment: Let’s Get Together and Feel Alright (chorus) by Bob Marley
  • Theory 3 Class: I’ve Got It Bad (Ellington) sung by Nina Simone
  • Theory 1 Classes: Recordare: Verdi Requiem, performers are Leontyne Price and Janet Baker
  • In HS and Theory 2 class: Two Songs by Kenneth Edmonds (Everytime I Close My Eyes, When Can I See You) for singing and harmonic analysis.
  • In Theory 4: Excerpts from Scott Joplin to illustrate the following core concepts:
    • Mode mixture
    • Applied (i.e., secondary) Dominant chord function
    • Rondo Form
    • Common tone chromaticism
  • Schenkerian Analysis Classes (Undergraduate and Graduate): Art Tatum Arrangements of Willow Weep for Me and Ain’t Misbehavin’ (chordal embellishment)

African American musicians in jazz classes

Jazz is a uniquely American art form which was born out of the African American experience, and many of its historical artists and pioneers have indeed been African American. The study of jazz has always included the major contributions of these individuals to the art form and their legacy. Professor Ron Rudkin has listed the musicians whose recordings and compositions the class will be studying, playing, listening to and discussing over the course of the fall semester. 

Jazz Performance Practice

  • Count Basie
  • Duke Ellington
  • Billy Strayhorn
  • Ella Fitzgerald
  • Thad Jones
  • Fletcher Henderson
  • Quincy Jones
  • Miles Davis
  • Oliver Nelson
  • Christian McBride
  • Maria Schneider

Jazz Improvisation

  • Miles Davis
  • John Coltrane
  • Cannonball Adderley
  • Dexter Gordon
  • Freddie Hubbard
  • Sonny Rollins
  • Clifford Brown
  • Art Blakey
  • Duke Ellington

History of Musical Styles

In History of Musical Styles, Professor Michael Dodds has added the following composers in recent years: Chevalier de Saint George, Scott Joplin, William Grant Still, Florence Price, George Walker, Bessie Smith, Josephine Baker, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong among others. In lectures he is challenging stereotypes of racial and ethnic hegemony in Europe, for example including recent research about Black trumpeters in Germany in the 18th century (there were about 200 of them) and emphasizing the importance for European culture of the Mediterranean world (including N. Africa, the Middle East, and Turkey) in ways going beyond mere exoticism, and also by including a unit the past two years on music in colonial Latin America (including music by mestizo composers). He seeks to put colonial music in the American colonies in the broader Americas context. He also explores the intersecting issues around orientalism, exoticism, colonialism, nationalism and “othering” especially (but not only) in the context of 19th-century music.

In that course and in Performance Practices in Early Music, Professor Dodds is doing many of these same things but in ways more related to that course topic, including especially addressing the notion of canon and the ways it can be harmful to the recovery (and performance) of early music and to contemporary music, and also the ways that the notion of “classical music” harmfully restricts our understanding of the interchange between popular and “art” music.

Music Studios


Professor Paul Sharpe has encouraged his studio to participate in the Facebook group Bass Players for Black Composers and invited them all to watch the most recent recital of recently created music by Black composers, and to consider playing one of the pieces presented. The group seeks performers for works by Black composers and seeks funding/commissions for these composers to write works for bass.

Professor Sharpe actively recruits and encourages underserved students to audition and join the UNCSA Double Bass Studio. There are currently two Black students and three Latinx students in the studio.

“I am proud that my studio has maintained a substantial percentage of Black students in recent years. Additionally, I believe in community outreach. This past year I sponsored a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to purchase a double bass and bow for a young Black student without the resources to purchase a bass of his own. I am proud to say that the campaign netted over $8,000 in donations, which was enough to buy this young eighth-grader a double bass suitable for a college student majoring in double bass performance.” – Paul Sharpe

Latinx double bassist Christian Gray was engaged to lead a residency with the Double Bass Studio at UNCSA. He recently won second prize ($20,000) in the international solo competition hosted by the Sphinx Organization (a nonprofit organization dedicated to the development of young Black and Latino classical musicians). The School of Music was pleased to allow him use of the Watson Chamber Music Hall stage to record his performance (with UNCSA staff pianist Polina Khatsko) for the semifinal and final rounds of the competition, following a recital he performed for the UNCSA Bass Studio. Gray graduated from the UNCSA School of Music’s high school program in 2010, and is a double bassist with the Washington National Opera/Kennedy Center Orchestra.


Guests to Professor Saxton Rose’s online bassoon master class forum this year will include Andrew Brady, principal bassoonist of the Atlanta Symphony, and instrument repair technician Sean Gumin.

Students were required to submit three favorite works by composers from historically underrepresented groups including women; composers from underrepresented racial, ethnic and cultural groups; LGBTQIA+ composers’ and disabled composers in which the bassoon is featured. They are instructed to use the Composer Diversity Database and this bassoon music database to research. After compiling all these works, bassoon students drew from this list in choosing the works they will perform this year.


Professor Oskar Espina-Ruiz has added the following to his clarinet performance course syllabus: “Avoiding racial inequality in music requires us all to take an active role. African/Black, Latinx, Asian/South Asian, Arab/Middle Eastern, and Native American, as well as women and gender non-conforming composers, have historically been underrepresented in classical music, as acknowledged by Chamber Music America (CMA). Be sure to read CMA's Commitment to Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity, and to consult CMA’s Composers Equity Project database, to bring to light lesser known but great works by these underrepresented composers.”

Collaborative Piano

In the Collaborative Instrumental Literature Seminar, Professor Allison Gagnon has added substantial repertoire by BIPOC composers and included an ongoing segment called “meanwhile in America” to the regular discussion of the mostly Western European canon of standard repertoire. In her chamber music course, Professor Gagnon will coach students who are studying William Grant Still’s Suite for violin and piano. In the support skills seminar, a master’s student is focused on inequality as manifested in the lack of equal access for students in underserved communities, whether this is internet access, technology availability, or access to keyboards and other musical instruments. She is also an ArtistCorps member. Professor Gagnon and this student will explore connections and projects through these avenues.


Professor Michael Rothkopf plans to devote a composition seminar to George Walker's “Lyric for Strings” and several of his art songs, as well as another seminar on Ornette Coleman and his “Grammar of Sound.” His technology class, by the nature of the medium, includes a wide diversity of compositional styles including jazz, hip-hop, Latin, folk and commercial styles.

Professor Rothkopf’s two sections of career strategies include ongoing class discussions on the value and future of music, especially concert or art music. He has been teaching that class for 20 years now and those discussions have always included conversations on diversity in the profession. This year that topic is no exception as the Black Lives Matter movement and systemic racism will be part of those discussions.


Professor Tadeu Coelho has added the following to his flute performance course syllabus:

“When planning recital and master class performances, students must choose diverse repertoire, in terms of genre, region, and works by BIPOC composers. Students should plan to perform at least one work by BIPOC composers each semester."

Flute students must research the repertoire they perform, covering everything from the composer’s biography and other works, as well as recordings, analysis, and performance issues associated with the work and the composer. They present program notes at every master class in which they perform. Special emphasis has been placed on the representation of underrepresented composer groups and inclusion in these repertoire choices and their presentation in recent years.

Additionally, Demarre McGill, principal flutist of the Seattle Symphony,  will present a master class for flute students on March 29, with all woodwind students in attendance.


Guitar students are learning and performing composed repertoire by nonwhite and non-European composers every week. Often it represents a majority of the repertoire they study. Students are all learning and performing jazz repertoire in the jazz improvised tradition. Jazz music is considered by many to be a uniquely African American-generated art form. Recent years have all seen nonwhite and female-identifying guest artists visit the program We expect to continue this initiative and increase this type of representation.

Professor Joe Pecoraro said:

“The lack of diversity in the classical guitar world has always been problematic for me. Fortunately, the guitar is woven deeply into countless musical traditions, including those representing just about every demographic. As a product of my time, I come naturally to a love and respect for many if not all of these forms of musical expression, and this informs my teaching.  

“Certainly, the bulk of America's musical contribution to world culture is a result of the fusion of African traditions with European models, from blues and jazz to rock and hip-hop. Preparing my students for careers in the contemporary music scene, as well as imparting a full appreciation of our heritage, involves studying examples from these diverse traditions. While rock and hip-hop are generally beyond the scope of what we do here in the guitar department, blues and jazz are extremely pertinent. My students will be introduced to the contributions of great guitarists such as Charlie Christian, Blind Blake,T Bone Walker, Grant Green and, Wes Montgomery, as well as great composers such as Duke Ellington, Thelonius Monk, John Coltrane and Bud Powell. Each term all of the guitar students prepare a piece from the jazz/blues tradition for an informal combo recital with alumni and local musicians John Wilson and Matt Kendrick.  

“Latin America has provided a lot of the most popular music in the classical guitar repertoire. Works by composers Agustin Barrios, Antonio Lauro, Jose Luis Merlin, Manuel Maria Ponce and Heitor Villa Lobos, to name a few, are part of every student's repertoire. I also love introducing students to the great guitar music from Africa. This music has become much more familiar to guitarists in the past decade or so thanks to a South African guitarist named Derek Gripper, who has created beautiful solo guitar arrangements of kora music in the griot tradition, mostly notably played by Toumani Diabate. I am also a student of Indian classical music, having studied traditional raga for a few years on the sarod. I draw from this tradition in my teaching and try to open my students’ ears to the remarkable sophistication of this music.  

“To summarize, I am fascinated by the different emphasis on aspects of music in different traditions (harmony in Western music, texture and rhythm in African music, melody in Indian music) and I enjoy living in a time when we have such easy access to all of it. As a teacher, I try to impart an attitude of respect and curiosity toward all kinds of artistic expression. I present a wide range of music to my students and encourage them to forge their own artistic voices from these examples in a way that is uniquely possible in this age of technological connectivity.”


Weekly Professional Profiles: Each week, students are asked to research featured horn professionals and share their findings in horn master class discussions. Professor Maria Serkin draws from a diverse list of horn professionals, including hornists from historically underrepresented groups. They explore and discuss their careers paths, recordings, video tutorials and interviews. David Byrd-Marrow was invited to appear on an online horn master class in October. He is the solo hornist with the International Contemporary Ensemble (NYC) and the assistant professor of horn at the University of Denver.


Oboe Professor Jaren Atherholt is passionate about equity, diversity and inclusion in the arts and in the world. She encourages her students to seek, discover and perform works by BIPOC, female-identifying, and nonbinary composers for their repertoire for class recitals, juries and other school performances. The Oboe Studio hosts a minority composer showcase each fall where new works can be performed for the first time in preparation for larger performances later in the semester. This expands their repertoire, the school's library, and promotes works from underrepresented composers to the oboe community at large. She herself also actively researches and performs works by historically underrepresented composer groups on faculty concerts, requesting purchases by the school of solo and chamber works written by minority composers. In 2020 Professor Atherholt recorded Valerie Coleman’s Trio for Oboe, Bassoon, and Piano with faculty --  the first ever recording of the piece --  and worked closely with Coleman in preparation for the recording project. She then gave the New Orleans premiere of Coleman's Trio at the University of New Orleans. She has coached Coleman's woodwind quintet, Afro-Cuban Concerto, in UNCSA chamber ensembles over several years. Prior to the pandemic, Atherholt organized an off-campus trip for the quintet to hear and meet Imani Winds at Duke University.

Additionally, Professor Atherholt has also been engaging with alumni in discussions about racism and white privilege. In her creative work outside the university, Atherholt’s nonprofit organization Lyrica Baroque is committed to and passionate about addressing racial equity in the arts. The organization is committed to and continues striving toward sensitivity, compassion, thoughtfulness and awareness surrounding the concepts of race, gender and interpersonal relationships at every level of the organization, including board and advisory board membership, programming, performing artists, staff and leadership. This perspective is present throughout her work at UNCSA as she engages students regularly in conversations about inclusivity in each part of their own creative and academic work.


Professor Timothy Olsen will require organ students, both here and at Salem College, to learn a piece this year by a BIPOC composer, and encourage research into more repertoire by underrepresented composer groups. Professor Olsen has also added works by BIPOC composers to his organ literature class. 

The Organ Studio hosted Nicole Keller, organ professor at Baldwin Wallace Conservatory, to talk about Florence Price’s organ works, and perform one of her pieces. Additionally, Professor Olsen performed a work by African American composer John Wesley Work on his Sept. 11 recital.


During Percussion Studio class, students watched and discussed the way artists respond to society using Anthony McGill's "Take Two Knees," an Elon University student's jazz/rap recording, the World Band Song of Hope project for Ryan Anthony, and a graduate student's recital from last year that was themed as his response to what he saw was the state of the world in 2020. 

When the class discusses ragtime xylophone music from the 1920s they will dive into the history of minstrel shows and vaudeville, followed by the integration of jazz groups in the swing era and Benny Goodman's Carnegie Hall concert. Additionally, the video examples Professor John Beck posts for students are/will be balanced between artists of diverse backgrounds and gender identity. And West African and Afro-Cuban Drumming in percussion ensemble are, by their definition, representative of non-European music by people of color.

In the 2020 fall semester, the Percussion Ensemble performed traditional West African music and in the 2021 spring semester they will focus on traditional Brazilian Music.

Piano Performance

Professor Dmitri Shteinberg has included works by Chevalier de Saint-George in his piano chamber music literature syllabus. He has also inserted text in his piano performance syllabi encouraging the study of piano works by BIPOC composers, including a list of suggested works.

As part of weekly master class, Professor Dmitri Vorobiev has given his students weekly listening assignments presenting works by African American composers with the intent to encourage students to research and perform this repertoire.


In Professor Robert Young’s saxophone repertoire and pedagogy course, the first several weeks have focused on researching music for saxophone composed by African American, Latino, and Indigenous composers. The discussion is centered around challenging the current traditions of concert programming. 

As part of lesson instruction, students have been given listening assignments and will participate in discussion groups throughout the semester composed of music by racially diverse composer groups. 

  • A student chamber ensemble will play an important work by Carlos Simon.
  • Professor Young will perform three works by African American composers on his November faculty recital as well as a work dedicated to Paquito D'Rivera (Cuban American clarinetist/composer)
  • Professor Young will record a work by Chicago composer Evan Williams

“My goal through my performances is to set an example that challenges my students as they think about how they program their concerts and choose their repertoire.” – Robert Young


As part of the weekly trombone master class, Professor John Ilika will use time to discuss anonymity requirements in the orchestral audition process. Professor Ilika has worked as an orchestral personnel manager acting as a proctor on stage during auditions, as well as a candidate in more than 30 auditions. He will relay real experiences of how it should and should not work focusing on the avoidance of racial bias in the American orchestra audition process.

Two of our six current trombone students are Black, and one is of Asian descent. One, still in high school and Black, is a talented arranger in addition to studying trombone. The Trombone Studio will play some of his arrangements in the studio class, some of which have already been posted to Facebook. Additionally, a current graduate trombone student will perform the George Walker Trombone Concerto for one of his recitals. 


Professor David Dash has created an assignment for all trumpet students this semester. Described below, they are to make a report on a composer or composition from the resources below, and perform the piece. Those students who are presenting recitals this year are encouraged to include something from this repertoire as well.

Underrepresented BIPOC Composers Presentation: Choose one of the composers below; find sheet music, recordings and biographical information. For those with recitals approaching, consider programming one of their works. Here are some options:

Tuba and Euphonium

Professor Seth Horner will lead one discussion each semester with his students on diversity, equity and representation in the field of tuba and euphonium. This will include discussing historical barriers to opportunity for BIPOC players as well as opportunities to amplify minority voices and create opportunities for players who are people of color. The goal would be to create improved awareness for students who are not members of these underrepresented groups, and to create a forum for students who are people of color to discuss their experience if they choose to do so.

Violin Performance

Professor Kevin Lawrence helped facilitate the November performance and residency of his former student Jessica McJunkins. She performed a violin concerto by Joseph Bologne Chevalier de Saint-Georges with our string orchestra on Nov. 17, when Chancellor Brian Cole presented her with the 2020 Artrepreneur Award.

Additionally, Professor Lawrence is working with a student on the William Grant Still Suite for chamber music credit. 

Professor Ida Bieler has created a project which develops performance opportunities over the winter break for her students which draws solely from music written by BIPOC composers throughout all historical periods. The project is guided by Professor Bieler and Professor Janet Orenstein. There is also now a requirement to perform repertoire with this perspective as part of the students’ recitals.

“I would like to see special scholarship/financial help initiatives put more clearly into place in making recruitment bids toward young musicians of color and diversity. (Such an initiative would be) standing on its own, away from the intricacies of our competitive merit scholarship situation. Many institutions have this opportunity and I feel it would be a real and convincing incentive toward winning young musicians for UNCSA.” – Ida Bieler

Vocal Performance

Marilyn Taylor and Steven LaCosse have arranged for mezzo-soprano Tichina Vaughn to teach a series of vocal master classes. Vaughn was last year’s Fletcher Artist-in-Residence and will work with each Voice Studio and the Fletcher Fellows in February and March. After completing her studies at UNCSA, she began her career as a member of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and made her European debut as Mistress Quickly in Falstaff at Staatstheater Stuttgart where she was awarded the title Kammersängerin. Recent successes include her Staatstheater Hannover debut as Begonia in “The Young Lord,” Filipyevna in “Eugene Onegin” at Spoleto Festival USA, her Teatro alla Scala debut as Maria in “Porgy and Bess,” as well as Clytemnestra in “Elektra,” Witch in Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel” and “The King’s Children,” and Ice Queen in “Schwanda the Bagpiper” at Semperoper Dresden. Last season she sang the roles of Herodias in “Salome,” the Mother in “Il prigioniero” and Brigitta in “Die tote Stadt” at Semperoper Dresden, her role debut as First Maid in “Elektra” at the Metropolitan Opera and debuts with English National Opera and Dutch National Opera as Mariah in “Porgy and Bess.” Vaughn will be the James Allbritten Distinguished Guest Artist in Opera as well as the Witherspoon and Wilder Guest Artist in Voice.

Professor Phyllis Pancella organized a viewing for all voice students of "Jessye Norman at 75." Kenneth Overton (co-creator and co-producer of the feature documentary “Black Opera: The Film”) hosted the event, which was a crash course in the difficult and triumphant history of Black artists on the operatic stage. 

As part of Professor Pancella’s effort to expand the horizons of composers that voice students directly experience through repertoire assimilation, she has asked each student to learn a piece by a female-identifying composer this semester. Her student Andre Peele will perform Three Songs for Baritone and Piano, Op. 41 by Robert Owens and "Dead Fires" by Carlos Simon.  

Students of Professor Glenn Siebert will perform repertoire this year chosen from the rich body of work by Black song composers that Professor Siebert has in his personal library. He will assign at least one song by a Black composer to each student. Composers that they will focus on include Harry T. Burleigh, Margaret Bonds, Reginald Rison and Hal Johnson. They are also putting an emphasis on historical female-identifying composers, including Barbara Strozzi, Francesca Caccini, Clara Schumann, Fanny Mendelssohn, Amy Beech and Cécile Chaminade.

In her master class, Professor Jodi Burns will discuss readings from literature including, but not limited, to:

  • It's Our Music Too: The Black Experience in Classical Music
  • Readings in Black American Music
  • From Spirituals to Symphonies: African American Women Composers and their Music
  • Media and Minorities: The Politics of Race in News and Entertainment

Professor Burns will offer articles from various sources that discuss the African American musical experience, and students will listen to and discuss music by BIPOC
musicians across genres. In addition, Professor Burns will include the works of African American composers and art song based on the poetry of African American poets in students' repertoire. This includes lyrics of hip-hop and rap as poetry.

Professor Burns will be studying a book entitled: “Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students” and implementing the teaching strategies, as well as offering relevant information to her students. 

“My plans for incorporating the music and stories of minority composers/performers include a cross-genre curriculum. I am excited that this platform in teaching offers the opportunity to highlight those from the classical world, but also from jazz, rock 'n’ roll, hip-hop, etc. ….  

“I think this is important work for those of us at higher ed institutions, as our students are not all here to explore only classical or jazz, but to be informed on the whole scope of musical opportunities that exist in the modern world, and those musicians and thinkers who have shaped the current musical sphere.” - Jodi Burns


October 25, 2023