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New Partnership Amplifies Diverse, Female Voices

Headshot of Canales.
Courtesy of Carla Canales

American classical music is overwhelmingly male and white, so if you’re trying to encourage diversity and equity in youth orchestras, the repertoire choices are not great. A new partnership between Durham-based El Sistema USA and The Canales Project is trying to mix it up.

The Canales Project is a nonprofit that commissions new songs written by female composers about inspirational female leaders. Now they will create beginner-friendly orchestral and choral arrangements for El Sistema participants in youth choirs and orchestras. The first song to be commissioned is an anthem called “Hear Our Song.” Host Frank Stasio speaks with Carla Canales, a renowned mezzo soprano opera singer and the founder of The Canales Project and Katie Wyatt, president and CEO of El Sistema USAabout music, cultural identity and teaching equity through music.

Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.