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Sharing releases, present and past, to brighten your day. WXXI Classical has its eyes and ears on the latest releases from classical artists working today. When we come across a story or a release we think you might enjoy, we’ll be sharing it with you on CD Spotlight. You’ll learn more about the artists online at WXXI Classical, and you’ll hear selections from these artists on FM 91.5. CD Spotlight shares new releases by artists that you’ll want to know and some by great artists and ensembles that deserve to be in the spotlight again.

CD Spotlight: Violin Concertos by Black Composers Through the Centuries by Rachel Barton Pine

Cover of Violin Concertos by Black Composers Through the Centuries by Rachel Barton Pine
Cover of Violin Concertos by Black Composers Through the Centuries by Rachel Barton Pine

When it comes to inclusivity, Rachel Barton Pine has been walking the walk for decades. She’s sought out and recorded works of lesser known and sometimes forgotten composers, including a CD of Spanish and Latin music for solo violin, a tribute to violinist Maude Powell, and an album of blues-tinged works by Black composers. And she doesn’t limit her interests to the studio; Barton Pine created The Rachel Barton Pine Foundation in 2001, which commissions and rediscovers classical string music by composers of African descent. Over the years, the RBPF has collected more than 900 works by over 450 Black composers from the 18th–21st centuries. Barton Pine, who grew up in poverty in the northside of Chicago, is keenly aware of the financial difficulties faced by many young musicians, and her foundation also has instruments for loan and offers much needed financial support for supplies and scholarships.

Twenty-five years ago, Barton Pine released her groundbreaking CD, Violin Concertos by Black Composers of the 18th And 19th Centuries, which included works by the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, the Chevalier de Meude-Monpas, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, and Joseph White. To celebrate the Silver Anniversary of this landmark recording, Cedille Records has just reissued the CD with the bonus addition of Violin Concerto No, 2 by Florence Price and a new title: Violin Concertos by Black Composers Through the Centuries. “In 1993,” says Barton Pine, “I first performed a concerto by an Afro-French composer from the classical era from the 1700s. I have been working in this realm ever since.”

The performances are immaculate but above all else, they are important additions to our knowledge and appreciation of the entire spectrum of classical music. And for that gift, we are grateful to Rachel Barton Pine.

A Strong Memorial baby and Greece Arcadia grad, Julia Figueras was the Music Director and mid-day host for WXXI Classical until June 30, 2023 when she retired after more than 26 years of service. She also hosted the award-winning monthly interview/performance show, Backstage Pass.