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The String Student’s Library of Music by Black Composers

Phase 1:
The Violin Student’s Library of Music by Black Composers, Volumes 1-5

Total Estimated Expenses:  $130,339  
Total Income Raised to date:  $50,350   
Funds Remaining to be Raised:  $79,899

The String Student's Library

The Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation is working on an exciting project to research, commission, and compile classical works by composers of African descent.  The String Student’s Library of Music by Black Composers will be a supplemental curriculum to acquaint students of all races and various stages of development with the rich heritage of classical string music from this ethnic background.

Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma, the leading authority on black classical composers, is Chief Advisor for this project. Our Research Editor is Dr. Mark Clague of the University of Michigan, and our Music Editor is concert violinist Rachel Barton Pine.

The motivation for The String Student’s Library grew out of REB Foundation President, Rachel Barton Pine’s release in 1997 of a CD with the Encore Chamber Orchestra, “Violin Concertos by Black Composers from the 18th and 19th Centuries.” Working with Chicago’s Center for Black Music Research to locate the music and learn more about it, Ms. Pine became keenly aware of the relative obscurity of this repertoire and how little is known about it by students and performers.

Musicians Need for the Collection

History has marginalized classical music that was composed or performed by people of African descent , despite its quality.  This music can be an especially valuable resource for motivating minority youngsters to begin or progress in their musical education. However, students of stringed instruments who wish to supplement their repertoire with works by Black composers discover that the challenge of locating such music is daunting.  Moreover, teachers find that locating compositions in this genre for a variety of skill levels is nearly impossible.

Levels of Skill

The proposed anthology will make music by composers of African descent accessible to every stringed instrument student in America.  Level 1 for Violin will contain simplified arrangements and commissioned works suitable for beginners.  Level 5 will feature sonatas and virtuoso recital pieces for students at the concerto level.  Each volume will include a CD recording of the repertoire contained in that volume.  Later volumes will include repertoire for viola and cello, as well asMusicians intermediate level chamber music.  Wide distribution as well as targeted marketing will make it easy for teachers and students to locate and purchase the volumes.

Educational Contents

The String Student’s Library will also inform students, teachers, and parents about the history of classical musicians of African descent.  Each piece will be preceded by a biography of its composer.  Also featured in Levels 1-5 for Violin will be information about past and present violinists such as George Bridgetower, for whom Beethoven wrote the Kreutzer Sonata, and Sanford Allen, the first black member of the New York Philharmonic.  Other articles will tell about significant individuals (Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass) who played the violin as an avocation; historic Afro-American orchestras and musical societies; the violin’s prominence in slave narratives; and the history of jazz violin including profiles of past and present jazz violinists of African descent.

Please click here for more detailed curriculum information.

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