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New Book, Composing While Black, Highlights the Life and Music of Alvin Singleton and Other Esteemed Black Composers

Jul. 31, 2023

New Book, <em>Composing While Black</em>, Highlights the Life and Music of Alvin Singleton and Other Esteemed Black Composers

Wolke Verlag has released Composing While Black, a new scholarly publication edited by Harald Kisiedu and George E. Lewis. The book features the life and music of Alvin Singleton and other esteemed Black composers. 

The bilingual (German/English) edition, Composing While Black presents unique new perspectives on Afrodiasporic contemporary composers active between 1960 and the present, a period that academic inquiry, concert programming, and journalistic accounts have largely ignored up to now, particularly in Europe. This interdisciplinary essay collection engages with opera, orchestral, chamber, instrumental, and electroacoustic music, as well as sound art, conceptual art, and digital intermedia, revealing Afrodiasporic new music as an intercultural, multigenerational space of innovation that offers new subjects, histories, and identities.

Kofi Agawu, City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center, notes:
"Composing While Black is a brilliant collection of essays on the black presence in contemporary Classical music. From the poignant and richly resonant title through the editors‘ authoritative historical introduction to the mix of reflection, anecdote, analysis, and study of the compositional process across nine essays, the book illuminates black creativity on terrain previously figured as white. Timely, informative, and challenging, this bilingual text is a must-read for anyone interested not only in the work of Afrodiasporic composers but in the reach of the very notion of the contemporary itself.”

Says Kate Molleson, author of Sound Within Sound: Opening Our Ears to the 20th Century:
"What an essential book this is: an invigorating corrective packed with bright sounds, big musical personalities and astute social context. The introduction alone is a terrific primer; the chapters are vivid case studies written with fresh and authoritative clarity. Above all, the music of this book demands to be heard. Its pages will send you down countless avenues of discovery and fill whole notebooks with names, ideas and intersections to pursue – the greatest thrill.”

Click here to learn more about Composing While Black.

To learn more about Alvin Singleton, visit