Music scores by acclaimed composer Coleman added to Reed Library collections

Roger Coda
Valerie Coleman

Valerie Coleman

More than 30 music scores for woodwinds by Valerie Coleman, an internationally renowned composer and the 2023-2024 Sorel Visiting Artist, are on display and available for check out by students and faculty at Reed Library.

Ms. Coleman is ranked among the top five living women composers whose works were performed by American orchestras last year, according to the latest orchestra repertoire analysis compiled by SUNY Fredonia’s own Institute for Composer Diversity.

“Her music is very personal; her piece “Umoja: Anthem of Unity,” which our College Symphony performed in October, had several connections to her family and background within its melodies,” said Music Composition Professor Rob Deemer.

The Sorel Organization, established by SUNY Distinguished Professor Claudette Sorel, who taught in the Fredonia School of Music for many years, provided funds through the Fredonia College Foundation to support the purchase of the Coleman compositions. The collection will become part of Reed’s permanent music composition library located on the second floor.

There has been a groundswell of interest in music by composers from historically excluded groups, including women composers and composers of color, across the country. Fredonia is responding to that interest with this infusion of Valerie's music into our collection.”- Dr. Rob Deemer

"Valerie Coleman is one of today’s most significant living composers, and the Coleman collection ensures that her works will become part of Fredonia’s educational and musical offerings for decades to come,” said Sorel Organization Managing Director Wende Persons.

There has been a groundswell of interest in music by composers from historically excluded groups, including women composers and composers of color, across the country, noted Dr. Deemer, who heads the Claudette Sorel Visiting Artist Selection Committee. “Fredonia is responding to that interest with this infusion of Valerie's music into our collection,” he added.

“I think it’s something people should definitely be excited about,” said Reed Library Music Librarian Katelynn Telford. “I’ve had several faculty members already reach out to me; they are excited to check out her work and may perform them,” she explained. “As a music librarian, it’s really important for our students to have access to current and relevant works, and this collaboration with the Sorel Organization is a great way to make that happen.”

Dr. Paula Holcomb, who is director of Bands at SUNY Fredonia, noted, “Valerie Coleman is a gift to our hearts and souls, as her music reaches across jazz, traditional and contemporary genres while incorporating the Afro Cuban voice and literally words of poets and narrators. 

She brings her expertise as a professionally flutist to draw the listener to and through the music. Having these works available for all students exposes and challenges SUNY Fredonia to new directions and innovations. We so needed her centered, powerful voice of integrity, expression, and passion. A special thanks to the Sorel Foundation for opening the door to this visionary composer. Their support of female composers and artists is truly changing the world and allowing previously suppressed voices and hearts to be heard.”

Coleman is considered by many to be an iconic artist who continues to create her own unique path as a composer, GRAMMY-nominated flutist and entrepreneur who founded her own music publishing business, VColeman Music Publishing.

The Washington Post recognizes her as one of the “Top 35 Women Composers.” She has also been named Performance Today’s 2020 Classical Woman of the Year, an honor that recognizes a significant contribution that an individual makes to classical music as a performer, composer or educator.Coleman music collection display

Coleman joined the Composition, Flute, Chamber and Contemporary Performance faculty at the renowned conservatory Manhattan School of Music in the fall of 2023.

Displayed across from Reed Library’s circulation desk, the collection consists of 31 compositions that represent 14 different instrument combinations, such as flute choir, oboe, bassoon and piano and woodwind quintet, among many others. Compositions are available for check out throughout the spring semester and beyond.

The addition of the Coleman collection is a part of a broader Sorel Visiting Artist initiative supported by the Sorel Organization, Deemer explained. All available scores and chamber works by Chen Yi, who served as the inaugural Sorel Visiting Artist, were purchased last year, he explained, “and it was decided that we would continue that tradition with Valerie Coleman as well.”

Coleman visited the campus as the second Sorel Visiting Artist in October 2023. She will return for a spring semester residency on April 24 to 27 to work with students and the community through performances of her music, panel discussions and workshops.

“I am particularly excited that the Sorel Organization is not only supporting the Sorel Visiting Artist residencies, but also the acquisition of Valerie Coleman’s scores for the Reed Library for students and faculty to access long beyond the residency period,” Ms. Persons stated.

The Sorel Visiting Artist initiative allows Fredonia to bring in world-class artists in both fall and spring semesters to work with students in rehearsals, master classes and concerts. “This important addition to our Reed Library collections will allow for the visiting artists' music and artistry to impact our students for many years to come,” Deemer said.

“This particular collection of Ms. Coleman's work is meaningful as this acquisition coincides with our School of Music community engaging with Ms. Coleman over this academic year, through generous support from the Sorel Organization,” said School of Music Dean David Stringham.

“Having her scores in our collection and her in our midst this year provides a unique opportunity for us to explore these scores alongside this renowned composer, flutist and entrepreneur," Dr. Stringham noted.

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