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Chromatic Brass Collective Shows SFCM a New Model for a Brass Ensemble

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President & Executive Director Yasmeen Richards and Vice President Madison Dorsett delivered a talk at SFCM and met with the Black Student Union.

March 27, 2023 by Alex Heigl

By Alex Heigl

"Be the change you want to see" was a mantra repeated to the Chromatic Brass Collective's Yasmeen Richards by her grandfather, and her work with the group bears that out. Galvanized by George Floyd's murder in 2020, Richards and Madison Dorsett joined a group of their peers to share their experiences as women of color in the world of classical music.

"We realized that there weren't a whole lot of spaces that really represented who we were or really amplified our type of voices," Dorsett said. "And we were like, you know what? I think it's time for us to make our own. The Collective began mostly as an online source but as we grew we definitely emphasized both the virtual and in-person spectrum. And from then on out, we started growing our member base as well as our advisory team, the level of adults who helped us navigate the world to the organization that is today. And we're hoping that it becomes a safe space for many BIPOC women and gender nonconforming people to feel represented within our community."

Dorsett, who along with the Collective's Yasmeen Richards, visited SFCM late in March to deliver a lecture to Professional Development students and meet with the Conservatory's Black Student Union, said that the group evolved to encompass musicians who were interested in behind-the-scenes roles, from management to education and advocacy. 

AT SFCM, Richards hoped to show students what's possible once they find their community both in and outside the school and utilize their resources.. "A lot of the work that we've done definitely has relied on the assistance of other people," she said. "Our board is seven people, our member database is over 50 people, and we just want to bring light to that situation in hopes that it inspires students to connect to their people, connect to what they're passionate about, and that inspires them to create the next Chromatic Brass Collective."

Richards added that the first thing she wants students to identify is what they want to change, and then, follow that up with, "What do you want it to look like after you're done with it?"

"If there's anyone out there who feels that there's no space for you, make your own," she concluded. "I wish, when I was younger, someone had always been telling me that."

Learn more about SFCM's Professional Development department or studying brass at SFCM.