In a world filled with political schisms, social isolation, and an overall feeling of division, isn’t it nice to feel like you’re on the same page as someone for a change? It’s that sense of togetherness and harmony that I think could easily shift our entire society. It’s certainly shifted the world of chamber music, to a degree. Hey there – I’m Loki Karuna, and on this edition of Noteworthy you and I will find a little common ground through the work of the one and only Valerie Coleman.

Valerie Coleman hails from Louisville, KY, and became quite notable as a flutist in the late 90s as a member of a group called Imani Winds. Being a composer at heart, Valerie eventually shifted her focus to writing music, with a number of her earlier works being created specifically for Imani Winds. Among those works, was this 2002 composition titled UMOJA, which is the Swahili word for unity.

Uniting musicians and audiences under the banner of Umoja is only a small portion of the work she’s done. Since 2002, Valerie Coleman has become one of the nation’s most performed living composers, with countless chamber and orchestral works to her credit, in addition to award nominations from The American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Grammys. In 2024 she joined the faculty of the Juilliard School of Music, where she not only unites composers of the next generation, but maintains her spot as one of today’s most noteworthy composers.

Noteworthy is a production of WDAV classical public radio.

Pictured: Valerie Coleman, by Kia Caldwell.