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How Cleveland Trumpeter Theresa May is Working to Break Down Barriers for Black Women in the Classical World

T.May head shot.jpg
Emanuel C. Wallace

Cleveland trumpet performer and teacher Theresa May has established a diverse, prolific career in music. From an early age, May has worked to break barriers and expectations in the orchestral world as a Black woman.

While pursuing her own education, May said she was one of the few Black people in her undergrad program.

“I think the lack of representation and me just feeling welcomed and 100 percent comfortable in my surroundings all the time was part of the reason why I didn’t want to keep pursuing taking a bunch of auditions,” May said.

This past year, she co-founded a new organization called the Chromatic Brass Collective (CBC). The national organization of brass musicians celebrates, performs, mentors, and educates to increase the visibility of racially and ethnically underrepresented women and gender non-conforming people throughout the brass world.

The group performed a debut virtual concert featuring 21 racially and ethnically underrepresented women and nonbinary brass musicians.

CBC also launched a $25,000 fundraising campaign to fund a mentor program, provide concerts, commission underrepresented composers, and provide educational presentations. Contributions are being accepted through Oct. 4.

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Amanda Rabinowitz has been a reporter, host and producer at WKSU since 2007. After serving as WKSU's Morning Edition host for a dozen years, she moved to afternoons in March of 2022 to become the local host of All Things Considered. In addition to providing local news and weather, she interviews Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com for a weekly commentary about Northeast Ohio's sports scene called The View From Pluto. She also hosts and produces Shuffle, a podcast focusing on Northeast Ohio’s music scene.
Brittany Nader joins All Things Considered host Amanda Rabinowitz on Thursdays to chat about Northeast Ohio’s vibrant music scene. As Shuffle Producer, she provides planning, scheduling, strategy and writing support for WKSU's weekly spin through local music.