Posted on March 25, 2021
Since its launch in January 2021, All Classical Portland’s Recording Inclusivity Initiative (RII) received over 70 nominations by listeners, artists, and community members. These nominations, including works by living composers and posthumous compositions, represent a diverse array of cultural backgrounds, musical influences, and artistic perspectives.
After an extensive and inspiring review process of so many deserving nominees, the RII Panel and Executive Advisors are pleased to announce the top finalists! From these twelve finalists, five composers will be selected to have their nominated composition recorded at N M Bodecker Foundation’s state-of-the-art recording facilities, and distributed worldwide by Naxos Records. Learn more about the finalists below, and stay tuned for more details to be released later this Spring as these twelve extraordinary composers are narrowed down to the final five.
About the Recording Inclusivity Initiative
The Recording Inclusivity Initiative (RII) was created by All Classical Portland in collaboration with N M Bodecker Foundation and Naxos Records. RII seeks to address the gap of classical music composers and musicians from underrepresented communities that make it into the concert hall and onto the airwaves. Together, we will work to change America’s playlist by producing new high-quality recordings of classical music by underrepresented composers.
Jasmine Barnes is a Baltimore native and a multifaceted composer who embraces any writing style of music using a variety of instrumentation, and specializes in writing for the voice. She has been commissioned by numerous organizations, and her 10 minute opera, “The Late Walk,” has been archived in the Library of Congress. Jasmine is also an honored educator, serving as Head of Compositional Studies and Jazz Voice Studies at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX. Her career in teaching has led her to educator honors such as National Young Arts Foundation Educator (5x recipient). Photo courtesy of Jasmine Barnes
About Taking Names:
Inspiration for the piece came from the poet Shana Oshiro, who expressed the irony in the idea of Black Girl Magic and the relationship Black women have to Social and Political movements. The piece is meant to feel like conjuring up the names of those who have gone on in a spell-like manner. The piece lists names of fallen Black Women and Black Trans Women whose names are connected yet hidden in many movements.
An award-winning composer, conductor, and trumpet player, Giancarlo Castro D’Addona’s compositions have been performed in Carnegie Hall, Disney Concert Hall, the Royal Albert Hall in London, Berlin Konzerthaus, and Vienna Concertgebouw, among others. He has been commissioned by New World Symphony, the Youth Orchestra Commissioning Initiative, and by Carol Jantsch, principal tuba of Philadelphia. In 2018, Giancarlo moved to Portland, and in September 2019, he was named conductor for the Sinfonietta Orchestra of the Metropolitan Youth Symphony as well as appointed by the Reed College Music Department as conductor of its Reed Orchestra. In January 2020, Giancarlo Castro D’Addona was named conductor for PYP’s Portland Youth Wind Ensemble (PYWE). Photo Credit: Esteban Rosales
About Concierto Sureño:
Concierto Sureño was commissioned in 2010 by violinist Laurentius Dinca (Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra). It alludes to the south side of the American continent, Uruguay and Argentina. It is a piece that has romantic parts, other rhythmic and dense, typical of tango.
James Lee III
Nominated work: Night Visions of Kippur
Since Dr. James Lee’s graduation with a D.M.A. in composition from the University of Michigan in 2005, his orchestral works have been commissioned and premiered by symphonies across the US, and have been conducted by such artists as Marin Alsop, Michael Tilson Thomas, Juanjo Mena, David Lockington, and others. Dr. Lee is a winner of a Charles Ives Scholarship and the Wladimir Lakond Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Dr. Lee is a Professor of Music at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. Photo courtesy of New Music USA
About Night Visions of Kippur:
Night Visions of Kippur was inspired by the seventh chapter of the biblical book of Daniel. It also tells a story about the perseverance of a people who overcame insurmountable obstacles to stand for what is right, justice, and a looking forward to eternal peace.
Nominated work: A Spark and a Glimmer
Lauren McCall is a composer and educator from Atlanta, Georgia. She has had compositions performed around North America and in Europe, including her piece for piano, Shake the Earth, which was performed at the Morehead State University’s Contemporary Piano Festival, along with being performed in Eugene, Oregon at the Oregon Bach Festival Composers’ Symposium. Her arrangement of the spiritual I’m Troubled was performed in Lakeland, Florida at Florida Southern College for the Grady Rayam Prize in Sacred Music, and her graphic score composition The Fish Wife was performed in Montreal, Canada by the ensemble Amis Orgue Montreal. Photo courtesy of Lauren McCall
About A Spark and a Glimmer:
A Spark and a Glimmer was inspired by visual artist Alison Saar’s sculpture installation titled Feallan and Fallow. Alison Saar created Feallan and Fallow based on the Greek myth of Persephone, and the sculpture this composition is particularly based on is Summer. Summer is a sculpture of Persephone’s mother Demeter who is pregnant with fireflies. This sculpture of Demeter is also a representation of fertility and the blooming of fruit during the summer.
Nominated work: Souvenirs
Cuban composer and educator Keyla Orozco’s international career has made her recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, Fromm Music Foundation Composition Grant (Harvard University), Cintas Fellowship, and MacDowell Residency Fellowship, among other awards. Orozco has been commissioned multiple times in the Netherlands and the US, and her works have been performed by internationally acclaimed ensembles. Orozco graduated in Composition at the University of the Arts in Havana. Later, she followed advanced composition studies at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague and Conservatory of Amsterdam. Photo Credit: Gabriel Guerra Bianchini
“I called this Souvenirs because it is inspired by cities I have visited or lived in at the time of composing this work. Some parts were made or sketched during a visit to that specific place. In some cases the inspiration is from a certain kind of music or rhythm typical from that city. I tried to give each piece its own personality; therefore the style of the pieces differ from one another. The cities of my Inspiration: Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Caracas, New York, Washington DC, Havana, Santiago de Cuba, and My Inner City.” – Keyla Orozco
Nominated work: little tiny stone, full of blue fire
Kirsten Volness’ emotive soundscapes integrate electronics and modern composition techniques with jazz and pop influences to create intimate listening that is “nothing short of gorgeous.” (New York Arts). Also a sought-after performer, producer, and a passionate promoter of multimedia, Volness has cultivated and curated numerous festivals and series featuring the work of interdisciplinary artists. A graduate of the Universities of Michigan and Minnesota (summa cum laude), her teaching history includes positions at Reed College and the University of Rhode Island with guest appearances at Brown University, the University of Michigan, and Interlochen Arts Camp. Photo Credit: Jacob Richman
About little tiny stone, full of blue fire:
“little tiny stone, full of blue fire takes it name from Dorothea Lasky’s poem ‘Beyond the Blue Seas,’ which I found after pondering the breathtaking beauty of YInMn blue—a pigment discovered in a fire during a chemistry experiment at OSU. The poem serves as a point of inspiration and departure, exploring surreal images of a long journey, sacrifice, self-actualization, transformation, and cyclic inevitability.” – Kirsten Volness
Mélanie Bonis was a French pianist, organist and composer. She studied with César Franck at the Paris Conservatory. Her catalog of compositions includes over 300 works, many of which were published in her lifetime, in genres including chamber music, choral music, songs, orchestral music, and over 150 works for piano. Bonis frequently published under the androgynous name “Mel Bonis.” Femmes de légende was the title chosen by music publisher Furore for their first volume of Bonis’s piano complete works. The volume was published in 2003, and it contains seven piano pieces by Bonis. Bonis did not intend these pieces to form a cycle or a set, though she did name each after a “legendary woman.” Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was a biracial British composer and choral conductor. Coleridge-Taylor studied violin and composition at the Royal College of Music: he studied composition with Charles Villiers Stanford, and his career was encouraged by Edward Elgar. Coleridge-Taylor’s music achieved popularity in Victorian England, especially his cantata on poetry by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast (1891). Coleridge-Taylor made three visits to the United States, where he collaborated with African-American classical musicians and worked to expand their opportunities. His influence among Black musicians continued long after his death; for example, the American composer Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson was named after him. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
José Maria Ramón Gomis was a Spanish composer, organist, teacher and music critic. He was born in Novelda, Spain, and studied at the Madrid Royal Conservatory. His career was based in Madrid, where he worked as a singing teacher, organist, and choir director, and as a music critic for the publication El Siglo Futuro. The carol A la nanita nana is usually attributed to him: he published this carol as a composition for voice and piano in 1904. Gomis’ Alma de España (Soul of Spain) is a jota, a Spanish folk dance, scored for piano duet. It was first published between 1912-1940. Photo courtesy of Memoria de Novelda
Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson was an African-American composer and conductor. Perkinson’s conducting career included positions as co-founder and director of the Symphony of the New World, and as music director of Jerome Robbins’ American Theater Lab and Alvin Ailey’s American Dance Theater. He also promoted performances of new music as Coordinator of Performance Activities at the Center for Black Music at Columbia College Chicago. Equally at home with neo-Baroque style, Romanticism, and jazz, Perkinson’s catalogue includes ballets, film scores, vocal works, and chamber music. Photo courtesy of Center for Black Music Research Columbia College Chicago
Undine Smith Moore has been called the “Dean of Black Women Composers.” Educated at Fisk University and Columbia University, Dr. Moore served on the music faculty of Virginia State University from 1927-1989. Moore was one of the founders and directors of Virgina State’s Black Music Center. As a composer, Moore is particularly celebrated for her sacred choral music, which draws on African-American spirituals and the hymn traditions of the American South. Her oratorio Scenes from the Life of a Martyr (1978), on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Photo courtesy of MusicByBlackComposers.org
Barbara Strozzi was a Venetian Baroque singer and composer. She was associated with one of Venice’s arts academies (organizations for performance and discussion of the arts), the Accademia degli Incogniti, in which her adoptive father Giulio Strozzi promoted her singing career. As a composer, Strozzi wrote primarily for her own vocal performances, in the expressive seconda prattica style that was popular among the academies of Venice. She published eight volumes of music over the course of her career. Che si può fare (“What Can You Do?”) is an Italian aria for soprano voice and continuo from Strozzi’s Opus 8, Arie a voce sola (Arias for Solo Voice), a set of cantatas and arias published in Venice in 1664. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons