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Music 269: Opera Workshop

Research and Instruction Librarian for Music & Fine Arts

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Karen Olson
Christiansen Hall of Music 147 (Music Library)
& Rolvaag Library 306

Things to think about

First of all, I'm so happy that all of you will be examining music by BIPOC composers. One of my major projects since starting this position is to expand and diversify the music library collection, so I'm grateful for your help!

I already know that we are lacking so many major operas by BIPOC composers, so as you search through our stacks, you'll probably notice these gaps in the collection.

If you're struggling as to where to begin, here are some things to think about:

  • What composer groups exist out there?

    • We're always taught about groups such as "Les Six", but do groups like this exist for specific BIPOC groups? Or are there groups that exist, not necessarily dedicated to BIPOC groups, that BIPOC composers are a part of?
  • What music awards exist? Have any BIPOC composers won these awards?

    • This is an instance where we'll see a lot of disparities and discrimination (it's not until recently that BIPOC composers have started getting the attention they deserve), but it might be interesting to examine yearly awards such as the Grawemeyer Award (click here to see a list of previous awardees), or the Pulitzer Prize in Music (click here to see a list of previous awardees), to see who might be recognized for their compositions. Remember, it's worth looking to see who's been nominated, too!
  • Are there lists of composers by ethnic or racial group?

    • Short answer: yes! You'll want to check the websites/databases tab on the left for a good starter list!
  • Are there publishers out there who we want to pay special attention to?

    • Many publishers are the designated publisher for a specific composer (Unsuk Chin, for example, is represented by Boosey and Hawkes). Many recent composers are increasingly turning to self-publishing, so you should look for their composer websites to find more info about their works. There are also publishers who dedicate themselves to publishing music by composers of a certain group, so keep your eyes peeled for those, too.