Top row, left to right: Joseph de Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges; Samuel Coleridge-Taylor; Florence Price; William Grant Still. Bottom row, left to right: George Walker; Ulysses Kay; William Dawson; Wynton Marsalis.
Classical music is for everyone.
Recognizing this, American orchestras, including the Binghamton Philharmonic, are working to diversify not only the music presented on the concert stage, but also the orchestras themselves. An orchestra in any American city should reflect the vibrant diversity of its citizens.
But it's not enough to change the makeup of the musicians on the platform or the identities of the music's creators. Music listenership has for too long been segregated by race, age, social and economic class, education and income level. Social media aids in creating the perception that certain music is for certain people, but not others. At the Philharmonic, we push back against this false notion every day. Our mission is to bring awareness to the truth that great music is for everyone.
In the past several seasons, we've showcased the genius of classical composers of African ancestry across a variety of platforms and venues. In 2022 and 2023, the Philharmonic performed works by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Jessie Montgomery, and Valerie Coleman. In 2024 and 2025, our concerts will feature music by Adolphus Hailstork, Florence Price, Quinn Mason, and Duke Ellington, among others. In our new Phelps Mansion Museum Series, the Castalia String Quartet plays a concert on February 11 of chamber works by Black composers and composers inspired by Black music, including George Walker and Rhiannon Giddens.
Left to right: Melissa White, violin; Pallavi Mahidhara, piano.
Also in the Phelps Mansion Museum Series, on Sunday, March 10, violinist Melissa White and pianist Pallavi Mahidhara perform the Suite for Violin and Piano by William Grant Still, called the Dean of African American Composers.
And in a recent recital at Binghamton University's Casadesus Hall, Executive Director Dr. Paul Cienniwa and Assistant Concertmaster Noemi Miloradevic highlighted the music of 18th-century composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges.
More importantly, however, we at the Philharmonic are committed to the highest standard of excellence in the music we present to you. The legacy of great Black composers and musicians working in classical music is a long and rich one, and it is our joy and our privilege to bring its awareness to the public. And our concert programming is just one of the ways that we showcase Black musical excellence. We have pioneered a robust music education program that introduces schoolchildren to great classical music by composers across races, ethnicities, and national origins, and teaches them that classical music is for everyone: it is part of our unique shared heritage as Americans.
During this Black History Month, you can experience Black musical excellence live on February 11, when the Castalia String Quartet brings its innovative programming to the Phelps Mansion Museum, and on February 24, when Maestro Hege leads the full orchestra in Pops at the Forum, featuring Adolphus Hailstork's "Fanfare on Amazing Grace," among other popular works.
We hope that you will join us as we celebrate the remarkable contributions of composers and musicians of African ancestry to classical music this Black History Month, and the truth that the great music of the classical tradition is for all people, everywhere.