A New Grant and Mentorship Program Seeks to Elevate Black Composers

The San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco Conservatory of Music want to elevate Black voices by commissioning works from emerging Black composers.  (iStock)

It’s no secret that the classical music world is very Eurocentric. Now, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the San Francisco Symphony are taking steps to expand its cultural viewpoint.

On Aug. 13, the two institutions announced a new initiative called The Emerging Black Composers Project. They’re offering 10 composers $15,000 grants and mentorships with three lauded music directors: Esa-Pekka Salonen of the San Francisco Symphony, Michael Morgan of the Oakland East Bay Symphony and Edwin Outwater of SFCM.

Applications are now open to Black American composers who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and have degrees in music composition or performance (or the equivalent in professional experience). Composers have until Dec. 31 to apply, and their submissions will be judged by a blind panel that includes the three music directors; composer and pianist Anthony Davis; singer and SFCM faculty member Carmen Bradford; conductor and Music Director of the Berkeley Symphony Joseph Young; composer Germaine Franco; composer and SFCM faculty member Elinor Armer; and composer and conductor John Adams.

The first composer selected will be announced in the spring of 2021, and their work will be performed by either the San Francisco Symphony or the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in the 2021–’22 season. Details here.

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