Published: Feb. 28, 2024 By

Smiling woman wearing headphones

Historically, minority groups have been overlooked in classical music performance. Since 2019, the College of Music’s Persevering Legacy project—with support from the College of Music Diversity, Equity + Inclusion Endowed Fund—aims to bring such underrepresented artists into the spotlight.

On March 7, Persevering Legacy performances will showcase the talents of more than a dozen undergraduate and graduate students in a celebration of women-identifying composers from around the world. Selected from more than 20 submissions, the program will include works for bassoon, saxophone, French horn, trombone, violin, viola, piano, voice and electronic sounds in various combinations and featuring a range of musical styles. 

Professor of Piano Pedagogy Alejandro Cremaschi has been coordinating the annual Persevering Legacy event and chairing the selection committee for the last six years. “I’ve always been interested in promoting and disseminating works by composers in underrepresented groups in the classical music field,” he says. 

Cremaschi and Assistant Professor of Composition Annika Socolofsky comprised this year’s Persevering Legacy selection committee.

Many of the works to be performed come from the American Music Research Center’s Helen Walker-Hill collection including music by Black women composers such as Avril Coleridge-Taylor, Margaret Bonds, Florence Price and Mary Watkins, according to Cremaschi. “The program also includes a solo piano work by undergraduate composer Josie Arnett, to be performed by another undergraduate, Holly McMahon,” he adds. 

Cremaschi further notes his excitement to discover how many students are interested in performing often neglected works. “The Persevering Legacy project is among the most successful DEI [diversity, equity and inclusion] initiatives of the College of Music, creating awareness, excitement and engagement among our students and faculty for exploring amazing works that would otherwise be collecting dust,” he says. “Persevering Legacy concerts also create support around the women and women-identifying musicians and composers in our college.”

As part of this year’s Persevering Legacy event, alumnus Gregory Walker—son of the composer George Walker and Helen Walker-Hill, a pianist and musicologist who specialized in the music of Black women—will present a master class on March 5, 10:50 a.m.-12:20 p.m. (C125). Walker—a violinist, composer and American Academy of Arts and Letters Fellowship recipient, among other distinctions—is professor of music and entertainment studies at CU Denver.

Join us for Persevering Legacy on March 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the Imig Music Building, Chamber Hall (S102).