April 25, 2024

Chattanooga, TN – The Chattanooga Symphony & Opera is partnering with the United Sound Composer Project to bring music from diverse composers to students. The Composer Project, a groundbreaking initiative by national organization United Sound, is designed to amplify the voices of emerging BIPOC and female composers within the classical music education sphere. This program brings two composers to Chattanooga to work and record with the CSO, and serves as a conduit between the untapped talent of these emerging composers and the young musicians who will benefit from a more diverse and inclusive repertoire.

United Sound has examined the statistical landscape of classical music, determining that while 60% of high school band and orchestra members are female, only 17% of professional composers identify as female. Less than 2% of music performed in the orchestral canon is written by women. Similarly, while 42% of school orchestra students are people of color, only 17% of composers are from these communities. These disparities suggest a disconnect between the early education of musicians and the professional world, a gap that the CSO and United Sound aim to bridge for the first time ever.

Thanks to generous support from Unum, the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera will be one of the first orchestras to partner with United Sound in a new program to mentor, record, and promote the works of two composers. Composers Selena Ryan and Yuri Lee will visit Chattanooga to work with CSO musicians on their compositions. This provides participating composers the opportunity to learn, make changes, and refine their art. The CSO will host a performance and recording session of the composer’s pieces during their visit, free and open to the public in the UTC Band Room at 2 PM on May 12, 2024. Quality recordings are a critical component to a composer’s ability to sell their music, and a huge financial burden for someone who is just starting out. Recordings are also critical for music educators to be able to find and select new music. The Chattanooga Symphony & Opera is the only professional symphony orchestra participating in the project.

By mentoring these composers, the CSO provides the scaffolding necessary to overcome systemic barriers and thrive in a competitive field. Representation matters—not only on stage but in the music students play and the composers that orchestras champion, giving young music makers the tools and confidence they’ll need to become the next generation of creators. The commissioned works from these diverse voices are central to a more equitable future in classical music.

For more information about the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera, please visit

For more information about the United Sound Composer Project, please visit:

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Currently celebrating its 90th anniversary, the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera (CSO) is one of the largest arts employers and is among few professional arts organizations in the region.  The mission of the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera is “to inspire, engage, and enrich the greater Chattanooga community through music and music education.” A strong advocate for symphonic music, opera and access to music education, the CSO utilizes the power of live orchestral music and music education programs to build connections across generations, inspire individuals, and transform the Chattanooga community into a more vibrant, exciting place to live.

United Sound’s mission is to remove barriers and foster social change through music. Founded in 2014, United Sound has provided new and innovative musical opportunities to over 15,000 people from marginalized populations- including musicians with disabilities and now, through the Composer Project, female and BIPOC composers and students. United Sound is thrilled to partner with the CSO for this first-of-its-kind project!

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, please contact: 
423-267-8583, ext. 2114