Composer Jasmine Barnes and pianist Yoko Greeney during an August 2021 recording session of Taking Names. photo: Christine Dong

The world of classical music performance and production has historically lacked diversity in both its content and creators. With roadblocks to opportunities for women, people of color, people living with disabilities, and other marginalized communities, even purposefully inclusive organizations have been limited in sharing diverse programming simply by virtue of its limited availability.

Numerous radio shows, playlist creators, and podcasts across the United States are now actively seeking content by creators from these underrepresented backgrounds, but with a lack of recording and production opportunity for so many, curators sometimes find themselves with tight constraints and limits regarding what is available to present. This leaves audiences listening to the same few pieces, by the same few composers, by the same few artists.

A new initiative aims to change this. All Classical Portland, the acclaimed public radio station based in the Pacific Northwest, has created the Recording Inclusivity Initiative (RII) in response to the industry’s paucity of high-quality recordings of repertoire and to help address ongoing inequities in classical music.

PARMA Recordings is proud to be a sponsor and partner in this project, and the company’s Navona Records label will handle the release, distribution, design, and publicity for a series of albums featuring music from artists selected by the Initiative.

Since its launch in January 2021, RII has not only created recording opportunities for people from underrepresented groups but has also crafted a roadmap to help their radio station peers across the United States create their own Recording Inclusivity Initiatives.

“RII is one of the many ways All Classical Portland is working to make classical music more accessible to audiences, and to ensure that all listeners can hear themselves when they tune in. We strive to bring inspiration and joy to everyone who listens, and this project has been a way for us to continue to reflect the diverse and creative communities of the Pacific Northwest and beyond.”

Suzanne Nance, CEO of All Classical Portland

RII was named the 2021 winner the “Local That Works” contest, a national award presented by and Public Media Futures recognizing excellence in media content and community engagement.

“We are proud to partner with All Classical Portland on this vital, dynamic, and wide-ranging initiative.”

Bob Lord, CEO of PARMA Recordings

More on the initiative here:

The works of five composers were selected to be included in the inaugural 2021-2022 Portland-based initiative. The three contemporary composers: Jasmine Barnes, Lauren McCall, and Keyla Orozco received week-long residencies with All Classical Portland and the N M Bodecker Foundation in 2021. Their works have been recorded in Portland, and will be mastered and released in 2022.