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Rachel Barton Pine's 'Music by Black Composers' is a mission that stretches back more than 20 years / NPR: All Things Considered

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Growing up in Chicago, Rachel Barton Pine took it for granted that there was a great body of classical music by black composers. She heard it on the radio. She played it in local orchestras as a student. The Center for Black Music Research is in Chicago. So, when the violinist recorded her first concerto album in 1997, she naturally included music by Afro-Caribbean and Afro-European composers. "I wasn't thinking about any of the social justice aspect or anything like that," Pine says. "But after the record came out, I started getting a huge number of requests from students and parents and teachers about, you know, 'Where can I find repertoire like this for kids of different levels?' "

Another of the composers featured on that album is Billy Childs - a Grammy-winning Los Angeles-based composer and pianist. Childs got a cold dose of how the classical establishment felt about composers of color when he went to the University of Southern California to study classical composition, with a side of jazz performance. "It seemed as though, often, I wouldn't be taken as seriously as a composer steeped in the European tradition of music because of my jazz background," Childs says. "but that also had kind of a racial overtone to it."

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