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Flutist & Composer Valerie Coleman Joins Manhattan School of Music’s Faculty

Appointed to the school’s composition, flute, chamber music, and contemporary performance faculty, Coleman will begin her tenure as of Fall 2023


An acclaimed flutist and composer, Valerie Coleman's appointment to the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music (MSM) is adjacent to many recent career highlights — including the world premiere performance of The Light We Can See flute concerto by composer Jennifer Higdon alongside the Chicago Philharmonic with conductor and MSM trustee, Leonard Slatkin.

As a composer, her piece Umoja: Anthem of Unity was recorded by the New York Youth Symphony and won “Best Orchestral Performance” at the 2023 GRAMMY Awards. Coleman’s works have been performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and Carnegie Hall.

“We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Valerie to Manhattan School of Music,” said MSM president James Gandre. “Valerie’s teaching, across four areas of study, will add luster and excellence to an already deeply accomplished faculty.” 

Coleman will join other recently appointed MSM faculty members, including violinists Eugene Drucker and Ilmar Gavilán; collaborative pianists Myra Huang, Thomas Lausmann, and Bryan Wagorn; plus violinists and MSM alumni Xiao Wang and Chloé Kiffer. Additionally, longtime concertmaster of the MET Opera Orchestra David Chan has led MSM’s Graduate Program in Orchestral Performance since July 2022. 

Recognized as one of the “Top 35 Women Composers” by The Washington Post, Coleman is also the recipient of Performance Today’s 2020 Classical Woman of the Year. She founded the acclaimed Imani Winds in 1997, where she was a former flutist, and in 2005, her album release with the ensemble received a nomination at the 48th GRAMMY Awards. In 2011, she created the Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival in New York City — a summer mentorship program for young leaders from over 100 international institutions. 

She recently co-founded and performs as a flutist of the Umama Womama trio. Coleman has performed throughout North America and Europe alongside Dover Quartet, Orion String Quartet, Miami String Quartet, Harlem String Quartet, Yo-Yo Ma, and has appeared at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center with the Hartford Symphony, New Haven Symphony, Boston University Tanglewood Institute, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Banff, Spoleto USA, and Bravo! Vail. 

As an educator, she has taught masterclasses around the world including The Juilliard School, Curtis Institute, Mannes College of Music, New England Conservatory, Oberlin College, Eastman School of Music, Yale University, Carnegie Mellon, Interlochen Arts Academy, Beijing Conservatory, Brazil’s Campo do Jordão Festival, and Australia’s Musica Viva.

“Valerie’s career reflects the versatility we know emerging artists need as they enter their performing careers,” added MSM executive vice president and provost Joyce Griggs. “I’m thrilled to have Valerie join the School as a faculty member and support our planning of new and revised curriculum that gives students more agency in developing all facets of their careers. 

“I have had the pleasure of teaching master classes at [MSM], and many of my former colleagues in Imani Winds are MSM alumni, so I know the School and its tradition of excellence well,” Coleman said. “It is an honor to join its superb faculty and contribute to MSM’s vibrant community.” 


Founded by Janet Daniels Schenck in 1918, the MSM now comprises over 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students nationally and abroad. With increased giving, and applications for its 2023/24 academic year being the largest on record, the MSM has appointed over 20 new artist-faculty to its ranks over the last two years.

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