School of Music Spring 2022 EDIB Progress Report

The UNCSA School of Music acknowledges the intentional, historical disregard for the contributions of nonwhite, female-identifying, and LGBTQIA+ musicians and composers.

UNCSA Music recognizes our past complicity and commits to hold ourselves accountable, both as a school, and individually, to continue the work of creating and maintaining a culture of inclusion for our entire community.

UNCSA Music understands that equity is essential to the survival of our art form, and necessarily essential in the education of its future stewards.

Below are some of the ways in which the School of Music is actively addressing equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging (EDIB) in curricula, programming, guest artist engagement, and strategic planning. We believe these efforts represent significant and meaningful change; however, we must continue to evolve as we listen and learn to be more inclusive, to better serve our students and the community.

Guest Artists

The majority of guest artists engaged by the School of Music during the 2021-22 school year are BIPOC, female-identifying, and LGBTQIA+ musicians and composers. These include the following:

Louise Toppin, a noted performer, scholar and professor who specializes in the concert repertoire of African American composers, was invited to perform and work with our students in September. She gave a master class and lecture/recital on African diaspora composers of vocal music. It was a chance for voice students and faculty to become more familiar with this rich repertoire and incorporate it into the curricula.

Singer, violinist, teacher and transgender activist Tona Brown spoke with UNCSA Music students about issues specific to opera and voice regarding gender identity, the Fach system and transgender singers, and offensive characterizations of nonheterosexual relationships in opera and musical theater.

Sphinx Virtuosi, a chamber orchestra composed of some of the nation’s top Black and Latinx classical soloists, returned to UNCSA in September to perform Tracing Visions, a program that sets out to challenge and evolve the classical canon by illuminating a new pathway for listening, sharing and expression.

Conductor Thomas Wilkins worked with UNCSA Music students for a week in November and performed Mahler's Fifth Symphony with the student orchestra. Wilkins is principal conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s artistic adviser for education and community engagement.  He has conducted the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and the National Symphony Orchestra (Washington, D.C.). 

Kenneth Amis will work with UNCSA brass and composition students from April 4-7 as a clinician and guest conductor. A highlight of Amis' visit will be the premiere of his new work, “Francis Johnson Suite,” which is based on the music of Francis "Frank" Johnson, the first African American composer to have sheet music published in the United States. UNCSA commissioned the composition of this work.

Other guest artists to the School of Music this year include guitarist Ji Yeon 'Jiji' Kim; conductor, Jiannan Cheng; euphonium virtuoso Demondrae Thurman; trombonist Jonathan Randazzo; oboist Titus Underwood; composer Kamala Sankaram; soprano Marsha Thompson; baritone  Michael Redding; bass-baritone André Peele; bassoonist Yoon Joo Hwang; trumpet player  Billy Hunter; singer-songwriter Sirintip Phasuk; bassist Court Wynter; and conductor Marin Alsop, among others.


During the 2021-22 school year, School of Music students will perform more works by composers from historically underrepresented groups in large ensembles and chamber groups than ever before. These composers include: Kenneth Amis, Grażyna Bacewicz, Count Basie, Charles Brown, John Clayton, Judith Cloud, Anna Clyne, Valerie Coleman, Samuel Coleridge Taylor, Noel Da Costa, Miles Davis, Lou Donaldson, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Hargrove, Betty Jackson King, Milt Jackson, Thad Jones, Lori Laitman, Wynton Marsalis, Missy Mazzoli, Cindy McTee, Marcus Miller, Wes Montgomery, Charlie Parker, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, Joaquín Rodrigo, Horace Silver, WIlliam Grant Still, Jeanine Tesori, Omar Thomas, Chen Yi and Lester Young.

Music for Food

Music for Food is a musician-lead initiative begun in Boston by violist Kim Kashkashian to help fight hunger in local communities. Led by UNCSA alumnae and faculty member Ida Bieler and Community Engagement Director Rebecca Nussbaum, the School of Music is proud to partner with Crisis Control Ministry, Temple Emanuel and the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) in presenting two concerts featuring faculty and students, with all proceeds going to Crisis Control Ministry’s food pantry.    

Concert Dates:

  • Concert at Temple Emanuel: March 30, 7 p.m.
  • Concert at SECCA: May 1, 2 p.m. 

Vivaldi Project

The Vivaldi Project is one of the School of Music’s 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 music in our community. Together with ArtistCorps, it forms a potent effort aimed at working to correct these inequities. For eight years the School of Music has educated and brought early general music education and violin playing to underserved children at Diggs-Latham School, with astounding resonance. This year the program was expanded to include Ashley Academy preschool classes. Included is a link to a recent article about the project, detailing activity and the profound impact the initiative has had: Parallel Play: The Vivaldi Project

School of Music Faculty Recording Release

UNCSA will soon release a School of Music faculty recording featuring only works by female-identifying composers of color. Various faculty and faculty ensembles, including the Watson Brass Quintet, as well as Jaren Atherholt, Dmitri Vorobiev, Janet Orenstein, Brooks Whitehouse, Saxton Rose and Robert Young, have worked to complete this full-length album of works by composers Reena Esmail, Jessie Montgomery and Valerie Coleman.

New School of Music Courses

  • Sound Scapes began fall 2021 and explores intersections and interplays between sound/music and the environment in a global sociopolitical context.
  • Music and … is a two-semester course which explores music in the context of six topics: identity, protest, technology, religion, the environment, and a sixth topic of the class’s choice. 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.
  • Afro-Cuban Drumming: The Rhythmic Roots of American Popular Music, will be offered beginning fall 2022. It is intended for all UNCSA students throughout campus, at all levels (high school, undergraduate and graduate).

Balinese Gamelan Ensemble

Students in this ensemble learn about and perform works from Indonesia, and will have 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. The ensemble is another course open to all UNCSA students, and is a cross-university collaboration with Wake Forest University.

New Library Acquisitions Initiative

The School of Music continues its 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. UNCSA Music is working with University Librarian Sarah Falls 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.

October 25, 2023