New Coloring Book Honors Black Composers

One day, if Rachel Barton Pine gets her wish, more children of color will see themselves on stage with a symphony, playing the music of black composers.

In what has become a passion project over the past 15 years for the internationally renowned violinist and Chicago mom, Pine and her Rachel Barton Pine Foundation have collected more than 900 pieces of music by more than 350 black composers from the 18th-21st centuries. She is starting to put that music in the hands of young musicians in a multi-prong approach that also includes the first coloring book of its kind, one featuring 40 important black composers.

Her hope is that music and coloring book will be the fuel for kids of color to connect with classical music in a new way and possibly open doors to music careers.

Going through the music with her own daughter, Pine was convinced of the need for the project. “To see her really responding to the music itself really confirms for me, this is simply great music at a very pure level and we are all missing out by not having this great music in our lives and having these voices silenced.”

For all of the kids who do not see a future in music for themselves, Pine located black role models to profile in the music collections being published. One of those is Terrance Malone Gray, associate conductor for the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras. Gray, a Chicago dad of two, has been part of efforts to diversify orchestras for decades, particularly focusing on encouraging kids (and their parents) to reach for opportunities in music.

Gray says he says he sees the project as a way not only to bring pride and joy to people of color, but also a way to bring all people together.

“My hope is that kids who grow up learning this variety of music and loving classical music will not tolerate going to a concert series or orchestra series where the programming doesn’t reflect” the diversity of the community, Pine says. “We are hoping that a generation from now, we will have done our part in helping to change the world,” she says.

Find the coloring book and sheet music at sharmusic.com/musicbyblackcomposers.


This article originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of Chicago Parent. Read the rest of the issue. 

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