Keys to Inclusion
Even during a pandemic, Denison’s music faculty members have been finding meaningful ways to connect with their students and with colleagues around the country! For piano faculty Assistant Professor Sun Min Kim, this has meant forming the “Keys to Inclusion” initiative with the piano departments of Northeastern Illinois University, University of Maryland Baltimore County, Loyola University - New Orleans, and San Diego State University with a commitment to learning about the piano music of African American composers throughout the 2020-2021 school year.
“My training as a pianist was traditional. During my ten years of training, I haven’t had a chance to learn a single piece by composers of African descent,” said Kim. “Racial reckoning last summer got me to think what I can do to promote equity and equality in the Classical piano world. I started looking into piano music written by composers of African descent, and found that there is so much wonderful music. I contacted other piano professors across the country and formed an alliance to advocate their music.”
“We have invited guest speakers who can teach us about the origin of these works, and how to approach and understand the repertoire. We assigned these works to our students in our own teaching and have been learning them ourselves. Our goal is to make recordings of these work, performed by our students and ourselves, and create an online database of these works by the beginning of this summer.”
Most recently, Denison sponsored Keys to Inclusion’s February 5th lecture by acclaimed performer and activist Daniel Bernard Roumain titled “White Supremacy and its Grip on Classic Music Education.” Roumain is recognizable to the Denison community, having performed as a featured composer with the 2020 Tutti Festival.
After taking in a lecture with celebrated composer Daniel Bernard Roumain during one of Professor Kim’s classes, Shengbo Shi ‘21, a Music Performance, Cinema, Economics major, said, “Participating in conversations with guest artists allows me to engage in deep thinking about the ongoing issues in our society and how I as an artist can contribute my own time and effort through my own work. It also provides me with different perspectives on the materials I have learned from class and gives me an invaluable chance to apply this knowledge in the real world.”