COMF Honors Duke Ellington Co-Founder Peggy Cooper Cafritz

COMF Honors Duke Ellington Co-Founder Peggy Cooper Cafritz

Blacks are noted pioneers in jazz, gospel and R&B, but classical music most assuredly belongs on that list! African-French composer Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges is highly recognized overseas for operas and masterpieces that place him second to none among his more-famous 18th-century contemporaries. Unfortunately, his work has received little notice in the United States, much like thousands of current classical principals, composers, and performers of African descent. But the Colour of Music Festival is reversing that trend. 

The festival delivers a global offering of the most talented musicians of African ancestry from around the U.S., Canada, Russia, the Caribbean, South America, and Europe. Now in its seventh year in Charleston, South Carolina, the event has hit the road and will stop at Duke Ellington School of the Arts on Thursday, March 14 and Saturday March 16, 2019. 

On March 14, a collection of all-female artists will highlight black female composers in a showcase performance as a tribute to Ellington co-founder Peggy Cooper Cafritz. March happens to be National Women’s History Month. “(We are) honoring Florence B. Price, among other women of color who have contributed significant works but whose compositions are rarely programmed and heard by major American orchestras,” Colour of Music founder and artistic director Lee Pringle said, referring to “classical music’s last glass ceiling” and the dearth of black female conductors and music directors.

On March 16, Dvorak’s New World Symphony and Mozart’s Requiem will be presented in a grand performance by the Colour of Music Chamber Orchestra, the Ellington Orchestra, and the Ellington Chorale. A portion of the proceeds from the weekend will directly support the Instrumental and Vocal Music departments at Ellington. The experience also provides a unique opportunity for Ellington students to expand their repertoire while affirming their place in the world of classical music.

Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information, please visit and