Image of a woman near a keyboard and music paper.

Patrice Rushen composes new work for “Musical Landscapes in Color” initiative

Patrice Rushen, chair of the USC Thornton Popular Music program, composed a new work for distinguished composer and ethnomusicologist William Banfield’s five-year initiative, “Musical Landscapes in Color.” The initiative aims to spotlight musicians of color and diversify classical music.

The first concert in this project, “Harmony in Black,” was performed by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra on October 13 and featured compositions by Banfield and Rushen.

Inspired by civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., Rushen’s “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory” incorporates jazz, gospel and genre-defying rhythms. It was one of the first pieces Banfield selected for “Harmony in Black.”

“The idea with this piece is to offer imagery, power, and a timeline in three movements of the most pivotal parts of [MLK’s] life, and areas of his life that affected me as a kid,” Rushen said. “I was a kid during the height of the civil rights movement and, while I didn’t understand at the time what was going on, I could feel the power and the importance of the work that was happening and my parents’ reactions to Dr. King’s speeches and to his death. As I got older, it had a profound effect on me.”

The performance of “Harmony in Black” will be released on CD by Albany Records in February.

TAGS: Popular Music,