Arts Blog

Meet Seven Black Contemporary Composers

At All Classical Radio, we’re proud to continually expand our playlist with diverse musical offerings. As we continue to celebrate and honor Black History Month, we are shining a special spotlight on Black classical composers whose works grace our airwaves all year round. In this post, you’ll get to know some living composers whose works have recently been added to our daily programming.

Carlos Simon
Photo by Kendall Bessent; courtesy of the composer’s website

Carlos Simon

GRAMMY®-nominated composer Carlos Simon channels connection and empathy through his music. His work spans genres, not only musical—jazz, gospel, hip-hop, and neo-romanticism—but also medium, taking inspiration from written works and visual art. Simon is a powerful advocate for diversity in music and often addresses complex subject matter in his music, such as slavery and injustice. With works commissioned by some of the most renowned orchestras in the country, Simon has earned a reputation as a star on the rise. Simon is currently the Composer-in-Residence for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as the inaugural Boston Symphony Orchestra Composer Chair.

In October 2023, All Classical’s Director of Music and Programming, John Pitman, interviewed Carlos Simon about his recent album, Together. Here, you can listen to the full interview, woven with musical excerpts from the album.


Alexis Ffrench
Image courtesy of the composer’s website

Alexis Ffrench

British composer, pianist, and producer Alexis Ffrench is one of the most globally streamed classical artists of our time. As a self-described classical-soul pioneer, Ffrench takes classical traditions and weaves in R&B and roots music to dissolve the boundaries between musical genres. Ffrench’s music has accumulated half a billion streams, with the albums Evolution and Dreamland both reaching No. 1 on the classical music charts. In 2022, Ffrench joined the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) as their first-ever Artistic Director, where he actively advocates for increased awareness of contemporary composers. He is also a Governing Body Member and Trustee of the Royal Academy of Music.


Jessie Montgomery
Photo by Jiyang Chen; courtesy of the composer’s website

Jessie Montgomery

GRAMMY®-nominated composer, violinist, and educator Jessie Montgomery has made her mark on the world with her captivating and unique musical voice. Montgomery has acquired a long list of impressive accolades, including being named Musical America’s 2023 Composer of the Year, the Sphinx Medal of Excellence, and the Leonard Bernstein Award from the ASCAP Foundation. Her body of work includes solo, chamber, vocal, and orchestral pieces and is frequently performed by leading artists and ensembles around the world. Montgomery’s music merges classical elements with vernacular music, improvisation, poetry, and social consciousness, dissolving the listener’s preconceived expectations of 21st-century classical music.


Kenyon Duncan
Image courtesy of the composer’s website

Kenyon Duncan

Kenyon Duncan is a composer, performer, conductor, and arranger whose music and skills as a performer have been featured on several studio albums to date. Grounded in the sonic traditions of the Black diaspora, Kenyon’s creative practice engages questions of embodiment and placemaking. A native of Northern California, Duncan is currently working on a solo recording project that will undoubtedly bring his music to eager listeners near and far.


Jeff Scott
Image courtesy of Oberlin College and Conservatory

Jeff Scott

Jeff Scott is a composer, French horn player, arranger, and educator who has led a robust decades-long career. Scott has performed in numerous Broadway shows, movie soundtracks, commercial recordings, and studio albums. He has also been a member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Dance Theater of Harlem orchestras since 1995. Scott was a founding member of the renowned wind quintet Imani Winds and performed with the ensemble for over 20 years.

As a composer, Scott creates “Urban Classical Music,” rooted in European traditions and informed by his African American culture and urban environment upbringing in Queens, NY.


H. Leslie Adams
Image courtesy of the composer’s website

H. Leslie Adams

H. Leslie Adams is a composer whose highly accessible and evocative music touches a wide range of musical tastes. Having written large-scale orchestral works, choral music, and voice and solo piano pieces, Adams’s works have been performed worldwide. His songs have been sung by leading classical singers such as Kenneth Overton, Denyce Graces, Damien Geter, Louise Toppin, and more. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, where he still lives, Adams was awarded the Cleveland Arts Prize Lifetime Achievement Award in Music in 2015.


Daniel Bernard Roumain
Image courtesy of Charlotte Symphony

Daniel Bernard Roumain

Daniel Bernard Roumain is a Haitian-American composer, performer, educator, and activist whose creativity thrives in collaborative musical relationships. Roumain has made a name for himself as a genre-bending composer whose classical string sounds are infused with myriad electronic and African-American music influences. His oeuvre includes works for chamber ensemble, orchestra, opera, film, theater, and dance. Currently, Roumain is serving as the first Artistic Ambassador with Firstworks, the first Artist Activist-in-Residence at Longy School of Music, and the first Resident Artistic Catalyst with the New Jersey Symphony, among many other notable positions of influence. He is also a tenured Associate and Institute Professor at Arizona State University Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.


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