Selecting Diverse Repertoire: The Institute for Composer Diversity

Selecting Diverse Repertoire: The Institute for Composer Diversity 

By Sara Cowan

One of the most powerful and easy ways we can impact DEIA within our own music ensemble classrooms is through the repertoire we select. Intentionally selecting pieces from composers representing various ethnicities, racial backgrounds, gender identities, sexualities, and more can show students that we value diversity and inclusion, and will also enrich our programming. One of the best tools I have found for intentionally selecting diverse repertoire is the Institute for Composer Diversity.

This website has four databases: Choral, Orchestra, Wind Band, and Art Song. Within each database, viewers can search for pieces that interest them by selecting various criteria: ensemble type/voicing/instrumentation, race of the composer, gender identity of the composer, and more. The databases are still growing and are certainly not comprehensive. In fact, you can add a submission to the database by clicking the “Forms” tab and filling out a short form about the work you’d like to submit (this is available even if you are not the composer).

I noticed, when using the database, that “less is more” when it comes to filling out criteria. I was much happier with the search results when I only put in a few criteria. My searches where I selected 5 or 6 different criteria were not very successful, but I had lots to choose from when I focused on only a few criteria. I definitely recommend this site to teachers selecting repertoire for your ensembles! It will certainly give you some new titles and composers to think about!

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