For centuries the performance and education of Western art music has been dominated by white, male composers and more recently has disregarded living composers. There have been those working outside these parameters, but works written by composers from marginalized communities have historically been underperformed, understudied, and underappreciated. Even today, these groups continue to be underrepresented. According to a study by the Institute for Composer Diversity, in the 2019-2020 “mainstage” season of 120 American orchestras, only 8% of programmed works are by women, and only 6% are by composers from underrepresented racial, ethnic, and cultural heritages. In total, only 11% of programmed works are written by “underrepresented composers,” due to the intersectionality of identity. Unfortunately, score publishing and collecting often follows these trends, perpetuating the misconception that only white men can compose music and that music of the past is more valuable than the music of today.

The University of Missouri–Kansas City Music/Media Library saw the lack of composer diversity in our collection and sought to improve it by creating the "Shining a Light" score initiative and website. “Shining a Light” focuses on twenty-first century music as a means of lifting up primarily living, currently active composers from groups that have been historically underrepresented. It is our desire that this collection is studied and performed rather than sit on the shelves. Therefore, we compiled a list of pieces by soliciting input from UMKC Conservatory students and faculty, resulting in the initial addition of 55 works.

From this foundation, the collection is already expanding. Scores and composers are highlighted through this website. The works represented include a variety of genres and instrumentation. Use this site to explore composers’ profiles, read biographies, access composer websites, search for repertoire, and listen to recordings. Our ultimate goal is the performance and study of this music, creating a more diverse and interesting repertoire of music at UMKC and around the world.

The “Shining a Light” collection was partially made possible via an Inclusive Excellence grant through a University of Missouri System initiative to encourage greater research opportunities for projects that focus on diversity, inclusivity, and underrepresented groups. Additionally, the UMKC Libraries have contributed in the purchasing, processing, and promotion of this collection. It is our intention that this resource continues to grow as the library acquires more works by underrepresented composers, shining a light on those who bring diverse perspectives and ideas to the Western art music community. The UMKC Libraries welcome suggestions from UMKC students, faculty, and staff (only) for pieces to add to library collections, including the Shining a Light collection. Suggestions will be considered based on factors including cost and relevance to UMKC needs. If you need items for your own time-sensitive research or performance, Interlibrary Loan may be a quicker route for obtaining items.


The “Shining a Light” score initiative and website were partly funded by a UMKC Inclusive Excellence Grant, a UM System initiative to encourage greater research opportunities for projects that focus on diversity, inclusivity, and underrepresented groups.

Project team members

Bryanna Beasley (2019-)
Giuseppe Gallo-Balma (2020-2021)
Madelin Cain (2022-)
Lynn Gullickson Spencer (2022-)
Libby Hanssen (2019-2023)
Kwan Leung Ling (2021-)
Sean McCue (2019-)
Kelly McEniry (2023-)
Nara Newcomer (2019-)
Buddy Pennington (2019-)
Scott Powell (2019-)
Wendy Sistrunk (2019-2021)
Andrew Stadler (2019-2020)
Martin Walters (2021-2022)
Audrey Watson (2022-2023)
Pat Wenzel (2019-2022)

Additional support and input provided by

UMKC Libraries Administration
UMKC Libraries Equity Committee
UMKC Conservatory faculty and students
UMKC Music/Media Library staff and student assistants

Original grant team

Nara Newcomer
Bryanna Beasley
Andrew Stadler

Image Credits

Eve Beglarian, Photo credit: Lorenzo Ciniglio
Victoria Borisova-Ollas, Photo credit: Martina Holmberg
Lauren Bernofsky, Photo credit: Sandy Milhouse Photography
Ed Bland, Photo credit: Guillaume LeGrontec
Anthony Braxton, Photo credit: Carolyn Wachnicki
Charlotte Bray, Photo credit: © David Beecroft
Margaret Brouwer, Photo credit: Christian Steiner
Raven Chacon, Photo credit: Courtesy of Raven Chacon
Chen Yi, Photo credit: James Allison
Chou Wen-Chung, Photo credit: Kimberly M. Wang
Ann Cleare, Photo credit: Justin Hoke
Anna Clyne, Photo credit: Christina Kernohan
Viet Cuong, Photo credit: Phil Parsons in 2018
Miguel del Águila, Photo credit: Donna Granata
Paquito D'Rivera, Photo credit: Geandy Pavon
Dong Kui, Photo credit: Duo Huang
Du Yun,  Photo credit: Zhen Qin | Makeup: Nina Carelli | Art Direction: SpaTheory
Bushra El-Turk, Photo credit: Ben McDonnell
Gabriela Lena Frank, Photo credit: Mariah Tauger
Alexandra Gardner, Photo credit: Thom Parks
Stacy Garrop, Photo credit: Darrell Hoemann Photography
Ida Gotkovsky, Photo credit: copyright gotkovsky.com 2000-2016
Sofia Gubaidulina, Photo © Japan Art Association, The Sankei Shimbun
Naji Hakim, Photo credit: Aleksey Vylegzhanin
Sadie Harrison, Photo credit: Bella West
Jennifer Higdon, Photo credit: J.D. Scott
Alice Ping Yee Ho, Photo Credit: Bo Huang
Takuma Itoh, Photo credit: Ben Ferrari
Jennifer Jolley, Photo credit: Elizabeth Glenn Photography
Molly Joyce, Photo credit: Shervin Lainez
Laura Kaminsky, Photo credit: Rebecca Allen
Susan Kander, Photo credit: Russ Rowland
Ryosuke Karaki, Photo credit: Jac Depczyk
Elena Kats-Chernin, Photo credit: © Bruria Hammer
Dana Kaufman, Photo credit: Ken Ge
Roman Kim, Photo credit © Ira Weinrauch
Lori Laitman, Photo credit: Christian Steiner
Libby Larsen, Photo credit: Ann Marsden
Tania León, Photo credit: Michael Provost
Melissa Li, Photo credit: Mari Uchida
Li Yiding, Photo Credit: Claudia Gianvenuti for Civitella Ranieri Foundation 2009
Liza Lim, Photo credit: © Klaus Rudolf
Quinn Mason, Photo credit: Allison Slomowitz
Ursula Mamlok, Photo credit: Simon Pauly
Elena Mendoza, Photo credit: © Guillermo Mendo
Jessica Meyer, Photo credit: Tatiana Daubek
Isabel Mundry, Photo credit: © Martina Pipprich, Mainz
Thea Musgrave, Photo credit: Kate Mount
Akira Nishimura, Photo credit: © Tokyo Opera City Cultural Foundation / Photo: Michiharu Okubo
Bongani Ndodana-Breen, Photo credit: Anna Morris
Emma O'Halloran, Photo credit: Alex Dowling
Pauline Oliveros, Photo credit: Pieter Kers
Younghi Pagh-Paan, Photo credit: Harald Rehling
Hilda Paredes, Photo credit: Graciela Iturbide
Roxanna Panufnik, Photo credit: ©Benjamin Ealovega
Naomi Pinnock, Photo credit: Rui Camilo
Shulamit Ran, Photo credit: Valerie Booth
Kaija Saariaho, Photo credit: Priska Ketterer
Hope Salmonson, Photo credit: Kaelyn Boutilier, @kaelynboutilierphotography (Instagram)
Rebecca Saunders, Photo credit: Astrid Ackermann
Juri Seo, Photo credit: Andrew Wilkinson
Shi Fuhong, Photo credit: Sophie Xuefei Zhang
Faye-Ellen Silverman, Photo credit: Russell Dian, August 2007
Alvin Singleton, Photo credit: Martin Popeláø
Kate Soper, Photo credit: Jim Gipe
Behzad Ranjbaran, Photo credit: Peter Schaaf
Augusta Read Thomas, Photo credit: Anthony Barlich
Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Photo credit: Anna Maggý
Joan Tower, Photo © Bernie Mindich
Gwyneth Walker, Photo credit: Robert Eddy
Errollyn Wallen, Photo credit: Dominic Harris
Shelley Washington, Photo credit: Peter Yankowsky
Xi Wang, Photo credit: Eason Kong
Judith Weir, Photo credit: Suzanne Jansen
Julia Wolfe, Photo credit: © Peter Serling
Barbara York, Photo credit: Andra Stefanoni
Yao Chen, Photo credit: Cang Guan
Zhou Long, Photo credit: James Allison
Zhou Tian, Photo credit: Harley J Seeley
Mickie Wadsworth, Photo credit: Mirror Image Photography
Ruth Zechlin, Photo credit: Ingeborg Zimmerman
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Photo credit: Bill Keefrey