ONEcomposer is a celebration of musicians whose contributions have been historically erased. By providing a platform for the study, performance, and discussion of a single, underrepresented composer’s life and legacy for the duration of an entire academic year, ONEcomposer promotes a more complete understanding of musical histories.
Through research, lecture-recitals, performances, and guest speaking engagements with leading artists and scholars, we reexamine forgotten excellence, inspired by the legacy of the woman who first inspired ONEcomposer: Florence B. Price.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Soprano Tamara Acosta is an Assistant Professor of Voice at Ithaca College and on the voice faculties at Cornell University and Opus Ithaca School of Music. Her extensive performance career has taken her to many of the great opera and concert stages of the world, including Lyric Opera Chicago, The Santa Fe Opera, Sarasota Opera and Opera Theatre of St. Louis, where she appeared in the world premiere of Judith Weir’s The Vanishing Bridegroom. The New York Times has called Tamara Acosta’s soprano “ solid…her singing clarion-toned and ardent." Most recently, Ms. Acosta appeared as the soprano soloist in Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem, first with the Symphony of the Mountains in Bristol, TN, followed by a performance with the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra at Cornell University. She previously performed the same piece with Orquesta Sinfónica de Xalapa in Xalapa, Mexico. Tamara holds degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music (BM) and the New England Conservatory (MM). Motivated by a need for diversity in the classical vocal repertoire and inspired by the life and works of composer Florence Price, she is proud to be the co-founder of ONEcomposer.
Stephen Spinelli is the assistant director of choral programs at Cornell University, where he conducts the Chorale and the Chamber Singers. As a performer, Stephen has sung with some of the country’s leading vocal ensembles. As a tenor with The Crossing, he performed on five albums, including the 2018 GRAMMY Award-winning recording of Bryars’ The Fifth Century. He has also performed with the genre-bending vocal octet Roomful of Teeth. He assisted in the production of their GRAMMY Award-winning debut album, which yielded the Pulitzer Prize-winning recording of Caroline Shaw’s Partita for Eight Voices. Stephen holds degrees from Williams College (BA, music), Temple University (MM, conducting), and Northwestern University (DMA, conducting), where he was awarded conducting department honors. His research seeks to reexamine the contributions of underrepresented composers, spanning from the German Baroque to the 20th-century development of an American musical tradition. Inspired by the legacy of Florence Price, he is a proud co-founder of ONEcomposer.
Soprano Karen Slack is hailed for possessing a voice of extraordinary beauty and a seamless legato, garnering critical acclaim in leading operatic roles and on the concert stage. She has starred in productions at the Metropolitan, Lyric (Chicago), Washington National, and San Francisco Operas, among others, and has created roles in new operatic works by Black composers Terence Blanchard and Hannibal Lokumbe. She is Artistic Advisor for Portland Opera and Co-Director of the Opera program at the Banff Centre for the Performing Arts in Alberta, Canada focusing on diversity, equality, and inclusion initiatives in both roles. A former San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow, she is also a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music.
“I am incredibly passionate about spotlighting the voices of composers, particularly those who have not been afforded the opportunity to have their art heard. The work of ONEcomposer is aligned with my personal mission of giving voice to composers that deserve to be placed boldly on programs in today’s concert and recital halls around the world."
Recognized for his “glowing mahogany tone” (Seen and Heard International), “deeply felt lyricism” and “expert shaping of a dramatic arc” (Cleveland Classical), Steven Banks is an ambassador for the classical saxophone. As an artist with a commitment to rethinking and expanding the boundaries of classical music, Banks “has the potential to be one of the transformational artists of the twenty-first century.” (Seen and Heard International) Mr. Banks is an advocate for diversity and inclusion in music education, performance, and newly commissioned works in the classical realm. He gave a talk at the TEDxNorthwesternU 2017 conference presenting his dynamic approach to overcoming institutionalized prejudices against women and people of color, and he has written and given lectures on the history of black classical composers. He also collaborated with colleagues flutist Anthony Trionfo, and violinist Randall Goosby to create the Learning to Listen roundtable, a discussion on the nuances of the Black experience in classical music and beyond. In partnership with the Sphinx Organization, they also created the Illuminate! series, which opened three essential conversations on the subject of music education, artist activism, and the LGBTQIA+ community in classical music.
"I am so thrilled to be able to be a part of such a selfless, forward-thinking team. ONEcomposer is committed to doing the necessary work to ensure that underrepresented musical voices of the past are celebrated and never forgotten. I believe this organization will make a significant impact on the future of music performance, education, and scholarship."
Dr. Baruch J. Whitehead is an associate professor of music education at Ithaca College and the founding director of the Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers, which is dedicated to the preservation of the Negro Spiritual. At Ithaca College and Marshall University, he founded Orff-Schulwerk certification programs - music education initiatives that view music as a basic system like langauge. He is the past Director of the annual Orff Certification Training Course at Boston University. His other areas of expertise include diversity in music education; gospel music and its preservation within mainstream musical settings; African-American music; and the music of the Civil Rights Movement. His “Peace Cantata” premiered at the 2006 Martin Luther King Celebration at Ithaca College. He holds a doctorate from Capella University, an M.F.A. from the University of Florida, and B.A. and B.M.E. degrees from the University of Cincinnati.
“I'm very excited about ONEcomposer because it is bringing out of the shadows incredible Composers of Color and other diverse artists that we all need to know.”
Pianist Michelle Cann made her orchestral debut at age fourteen and has since performed as a soloist with numerous ensembles including The Philadelphia Orchestra, the Florida Orchestra, the North Carolina Symphony, and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. A champion of the music of Florence Price, Ms. Cann performed the New York City premiere of the composer’s Piano Concerto in One Movement with The Dream Unfinished Orchestra in July 2016 and the Philadelphia premiere with The Philadelphia Orchestra in February 2021, which the Philadelphia Inquirer called “exquisite.” She has also performed Price’s works for solo piano and chamber ensemble for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music Society of Detroit, and the New World Symphony, among other presenters.
Ms. Cann regularly appears in solo and chamber recitals throughout the U.S., China, and South Korea. Notable venues include the National Centre for the Performing Arts (Beijing), the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, D.C.), Walt Disney Concert Hall (Los Angeles), and the Barbican (London). Ms. Cann has appeared as cohost and collaborative pianist with NPR’s From The Top and has been featured on WRTI-FM and WHYY-TV in Philadelphia. Her summer festival appearances have included the Taos Chamber Music Festival, Yellow Barn, Perlman Music Program, Music Academy of the West, Geneva Music Festival, and Pianofest in the Hamptons, where she serves as artist in residence. An award winner at top international competitions, in 2019 she served as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s MAC Music Innovator in recognition of her role as an African-American classical musician who embodies artistry, innovation, and a commitment to education and community engagement. Ms. Cann studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Curtis Institute of Music, where she holds the inaugural Eleanor Sokoloff Chair in Piano Studies.