ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Representation Matters is a concert series created by students at Eastman School of Music to highlight the work of classical composers of color. Graduate student Brianna Garcon contacted other students to perform at SUNY Brockport on Friday, February 3.

This week, we sat in as the students rehearsed a piece called “Umoja” by Valerie Coleman.

“She used to be part of the Imani Wind Quintet, an all-black woodwind quintet,” said Garcon.

Garcon proudly explains that the quintet was nominated for a Grammy and is one of the first wood quintets to perform pieces by Black composers and feature non string instruments.

“So, I think it would be great to have new students perform her pieces and carry on the torch of providing that representation,” Garcon said.

Travon Walker founded the organization in 2020, with the original plan to present the concerts to middle and high school students in Rochester as a way to expose them to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) composers. Garcon took over after Walker graduated.

“Every student deserves to see somebody in themselves, in a performer, and so that’s our mission, to allow younger students to be able to see themselves in every instrument and every piece of music,” Garcon said.

Representation Matters caught the attention of SUNY Brockport Fine Arts Series Manager Stuart Soloway.

“We have a fairly high percentage of BIPOC students,” Soloway says. He adds the purpose of bringing the Eastman students to his campus was to show other students that classical music is an alternative profession they can pursue.