Eastman School of Music students honor Black musicians

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — For Alexander Diaz, a sophomore at the Eastman School of music, music is obviously life.

“Music to me is all about expression, expression of oneself, expression about how one feels, who I am,” Diaz said.

And through this year’s Black History Month recital, “Sounds of History,” he gets the chance to really express himself and his culture.

“I feel like it’s crazy, going to a concert and seeing these musicians that look like you and you want to be them,” Diaz said. “You want to emulate them. It’s important. Representation matters.”

This year’s recital, presented by the Black Students Union showcases the talent of Black musicians at Eastman and promotes music written by Black composers.

“I’m a violist but I’m going to be playing violin in a string quartet by this composer named Chevalier de Bologne,” Diaz said. “He’s like a Mozart contemporary but he was Black.

“It also inspires me a lot because in the classical music world, especially. You don’t see tons of Black musicians. That’s just how it is I guess.”

It makes this an opportunity not only for expression, but for education.

“So bringing in these Black composers and my friends to be able to play this music and to be able to express themself on the stage alongside me and show who they are through these Black composers, I feel is really powerful.”

It’s a feeling he hopes will continue even after Black History Month.

“The education we get from the Black composers, the positive atmosphere that we have of each other, I hope we get to share that with others after this,” Diaz said.