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Diverse Voices in Music Scholarship and Repertoire

This guide provides a first step to research on music from diverse voices.

Featured Composer

Photograph of Jennifer Higdon, a woman in a black sweater and short black hair, and her orange cat. Higdon is laying on the floor, smiling at the camera, with sheet music and a laptop around her.

Jennifer Higdon

Bio and Virtual Display by Malcolm Wood, Music Education Major

Jennifer Higdon, a composer, flutist, and LGBTQ+ activist, is a Pulitzer Prize, Nemmers Prize, and Grammy award-winning artist. She is an outspoken advocate of the LGBTQ+ community and about anxiety in music. She attended Bowling Green State University for flute performance, earning a bachelor’s in music, and later earned an Artist’s Diploma from The Curtis Institute of Music as well as a Master of the Arts and Ph.D. in composition from the University of Pennsylvania. She has become a major figure in contemporary classical music with her compositions in multiple genres such as orchestra, chamber, choral, and opera. She has been commissioned by The Chicago Symphony, The President’s Own Marine Band, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and The Atlanta Symphony. She is most known for her composition “Blue Cathedral”. She is currently serving as a Chair member at The Curtis Institute of Music, and currently resides in Philadelphia with her wife and their cats.

Compositions by Jennifer Higdon

Tips for Searching for Composers from Diverse Backgrounds

  • Many articles, dissertations, books, and reference articles compile repertoire lists by composers of specific demographics. Try searching for a particular instrument or genre in the Library Search, along with the identity you are looking for. Here are some example searches:

Flute Music by Women

Latin American Composers

Chinese Art Songs

  • Do a web search for composers of a particular identity, then do some research on the people you find.
  • Search Wikipedia for lists of composers of a particular identity, then research those individuals.
  • Use websites or professional organizations such as those listed below to find composers, then research their background and repertoire.
  • Do not assume identity based on names. Instead, research the composer and see what you can uncover from their biographical information.  

Web Resources

The following websites provide information on music and composers from underrepresented backgrounds, including BIPOC, women, and LGBTQ composers.