Valerie Coleman is regarded by many as an iconic artist who continues to pave her own unique path, as a Grammy® nominated flutist, composer and entrepreneur. Regarded as “one of the Top 35 Women Composers” as listed in the Washington Post by critic Anne Midgette, she is also an alumna of Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center CMS Two, laureate of Concert Artists Guild, the flutist and founder of the performer-composer trio Umama Womama. Perhaps most notably, she is the creator, founder, and former flutist of the acclaimed Imani Winds, an ensemble whose performances and original works have redefined wind chamber music with performances that span the globe. Imani Winds’ legacy is documented and featured in a dedicated exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
Coleman’s multi-faceted career has led her to be featured with the Philadelphia Orchestra, The Atlanta Symphony, the Hartford Symphony, Boston University Tanglewood Institute, Boston Symphony Orchestra Tanglewood Learning Institute (TLI), New Haven Symphony, Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Music at Angelfire, Banff, Spoleto USA, Bravo! Vail, Carnegie Hall, and the Kennedy Center, to name a few. Her career as a recitalist and clinician has led her to be the featured guest flutist for the Mid-Atlantic Flute Fair, New Jersey Flute Fair, South Carolina Flute Society Festival, Colorado Flute Fair, Mid-South Flute Fair, and the National Women’s Music Festival, among many others. Looking forward, Valerie is scheduled to appear for a host of festival and collegiate multi-disciplinary residencies, including Phoenix Chamber Music Society, Virginia Tech, Oberlin College, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, University of North Dakota, Chamber Music Northwest, University of Michigan, and Centre College. She will be the featured headliner at the Long Island Flute Club, Raleigh Area Flute Association, Greater Portland Flute Society, Seattle Flute Society, University of Wisconsin-Madison Flute Day, Bethune-Cookman University Flute Day, and the Florida Flute Society Festival.
Coleman’s passion for chamber music performance is what guided her to become a top advocate, mentor and specialist of the field, with an extensive performance history of premieres and collaborations at festivals and chamber music societies across the United States, with esteemed artists such as Orion String Quartet, Harlem String Quartet, Quarteto Latinoamericano, Dover Quartet, Miami String Quartet, Ani and Ida Kavafian, Yo-Yo Ma, David Shifrin, Gil Kalish, Shai Wosner, Anne-Marie McDermott, Wu-Han, members of the LA Chamber Orchestra, and jazz legends Paquito D’Rivera, Stefon Harris, Jason Moran, René Marie, among many others. She has given countless flute and chamber music masterclasses at institutions in 49 states and over 5 continents, including The Eastman School of Music, The Juilliard School, Curtis Institute, Manhattan School of Music, Mannes College of Music, Yale University, University of Colorado-Boulder, Northern Colorado State University, University of Louisville, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Carnegie Mellon, New England Conservatory, Oberlin College, McGill University, Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory, University of Maryland, Interlochen Arts Academy, Beijing Conservatory, Brazil’s Campo do Jordão Festival, and Australia’s Musica Viva, to name a few. With Imani Winds, she was recently an artist-in-residence at Mannes College of Music, Banff Chamber Music Intensive, and Visiting Faculty at the University of Chicago.
Her work as a recording artist features an extensive discography with Imani Winds, and appearances on albums by Wayne Shorter Quartet, Steve Coleman and the Council of Balance, Chick Corea, the Brubeck Brothers, Edward Simon, Bruce Adolphe, and Mohammed Fairouz, on the record labels Naxos, Sony Classical, Deutsche Grammophon, eOne and Cedille Records. Both her compositions and performances are regularly heard on the air nationally via Sirius XM, NPR, WNYC, WQXR and Minnesota Public Radio, and abroad including RadioFrance, Australian Broadcast Company, and Radio NZ.
Her work as a composer has garnered several awards such as the Herb Alpert Awards Ragdale Prize, Van Lier Fellowship, MAPFund, ASCAP Honors Award, Chamber Music America’s Classical Commissioning Program, an induction into her high school’s hall of fame, and nominations from The Academy of Arts and Letters, and United States Artists. Her work, UMOJA, was listed by the Chamber Music America as one of the “Top 101 Great American Ensemble Works” and is a staple within woodwind literature. The Boston Globe describes her as having “talent for delineating form and emotion with shifts between ingeniously varied instrumental combinations”. The New York Times observes her compositions as “skillfully wrought, buoyant music”. The Los Angeles Times referred to her Afro-Cuban Concerto as an “engaging showpiece, deftly woven polyrhythmic lines -- suggesting the pulse of Cuban clave and even James Brown,” and critic Steve Metcalf of the Hartford Courant refers to her as “The composer who almost made me forget Mozart”. Alongside recent commissions from American Composers Orchestra, Carnegie Hall and The National Flute Association, she has enjoyed commissions and premieres from Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, The Library of Congress, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Collegiate Band Directors National Association, Chamber Music Northwest, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Hartford Symphony Orchestra, and The Universities of Chicago, South Carolina, Michigan, Virginia Commonwealth, Hawaii Manoa and Ohio State. In addition to performances by those commissioners, her works have been performed by organizations like The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Albany Symphony, Hartford Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, and a significant number of chamber ensembles, collegiate bands, and orchestras across the country.
Advocacy and mentorship of artists and emerging ensembles is important to Valerie, and she has immensely enjoyed their success over the years. In 2011, she created the Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival, a summer mentorship program in NYC that has welcomed musicians from over 100 institutions both nationally and abroad. She has also served on the as an adjudicator for National Flute Association’s High School Artist Competition, Concert Artist Guild, APAP’s Young Performing Concert Artists fellowship, ASCAP’s Morton Gould Award, MapFund Award and the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. She is on the board of advisors for Composers Now, MacDowell Colony, and Sphinx LEAD, and has previously served on the APAP’s Classical Connections Committee, National Flute Association’s New Music Advisory Committee and Board Nomination Committee.
Valerie studied flute with Julius Baker, Judith Mendenhall, Doriot Dwyer, Leone Buyse and Alan Weiss; composition with Martin Amlin and Randy Wolfe. She is published by Theodore Presser, International Opus and has her own company, V Coleman Music.