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Oxford University Press (OUP) has published one of the world's most comprehensive collections of choral music by black composers, ranging from the sixteenth century to the present day. In showcasing music from notable black composers, The Oxford Book of Choral Music by Black Composers - edited by established American conductor, teacher and composer Marques L A Garrett - aims to address a historical lack of representation of black musicians and composers in the choral canon.
The collection, published on 2 February 2023 during OUP Music's centenary year, includes music by historical composers such as Vicente Lusitano, Florence Price and Nathaniel Dett, as well as living composers including Zanaida Robles, B E Boykin, and Robert A Harris, showcasing the talents of choral music today. Music from the anthology has been recorded by London Voices, conducted by Shivani Rattan and produced by Ken Burton, and is available across all major streaming platforms from 16 January 2023.
Speaking about the publication, editor Marques L A Garrett said:
The Oxford Book of Choral Music by Black Composers is a product of my research into the original, non-idiomatic choral music of black composers. Through publishing this anthology with Oxford University Press, we are raising the profile of composers who have added great value to the choral repertoire but who have previously been and continue to be underrepresented. It is my hope that the collection will be a great resource for classes, conductors, teachers and choirs everywhere, and a source of inspiration for those in underrepresented communities looking to pursue their passions.
Non-idiomatic, as it relates to black composers, refers to the original concert music that is not part of the traditional idiomatic canon associated with black musicians. That canon includes spirituals, gospel, jazz, hip-hop and rap among others.
(While some of the pieces in the collection may be influenced by these idiomatic genres, they are all original compositions rooted in the classical choral tradition.)
Speaking about the publication, Rachel Lindley, Director of the Music Department at Oxford University Press, said:
We are thrilled to have worked with Marques L A Garrett on The Oxford Book of Choral Music by Black Composers and be able to showcase this wonderful music through its publication. It's so important that we contribute to a more diverse and inclusive publishing landscape and while we have much progress to make, we see this collection as a positive step in the right direction, making this great music easily accessible to choirs the world over.
A native of Virginia, Marques L A Garrett is an Assistant Professor of Music in Choral Activities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the Glenn Korff School of Music. His responsibilities include conducting the auditioned Chamber Singers and non-auditioned University Chorale (soprano-alto) as well as teaching graduate choral literature. Before earning his PhD in Music Education (Choral Conducting) at Florida State University, he was the Director of Choral Activities at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.
Posted 4 February 2023 by Keith Bramich