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Score and parts for Zenobia Powell Perry's Pastels for Orchestra (1986) Now Available

Jaygayle Music (ASCAP) is pleased to announce that the score and parts for Zenobia Powell Perry's Pastels for Orchestra (1986) are now available as a digital download or in a print edition.

A fascinating exploration of the lush timbres of orchestral instruments, this piece is unusual in Perry's catalog because of its experimental nature. As an African American woman composer, she had few opportunities to write for full symphony orchestra. A request from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for a new work was a welcomed challenge. The DSO read it in a workshop, conducted by Paul Freeman (1936–2015), as part of the 1986 African American Composers Festival in Detroit.

Previously, she had earned renown for her vocal and chamber music, as well as pieces for wind symphony. She composed this work in her late seventies, soon after completing her opera, Tawawa House, which is based on Spirituals.

Zenobia Powell Perry wrote the following Program Notes:

Pastels for Orchestra is a brief composition divided into four sections. The first opens with flutes leading to the expository rhythmic pattern of the accompaniment played by the strings: basis of the first and second sections. After the first period, flutes are joined by other woodwinds playing a slow shimmering theme gradually developing and making use of more conventional meters. The second section contains the three tonal instrumental choirs intertwining their colorful sounds in the idea. The tempo accelerates as strings also become carriers of the theme. The third section, in alternating quintuple and duple rhythms, forms a theme that is metrically, harmonically, and structurally contrasting to the second section. The coda is a modified outgrowth of the actual beginning. Here flutes accompany the violins, and the end is as quiet as the beginning.

This piece is a welcome addition to the repertoire of orchestral works by African American composers; it is sure to generate wide interest. A midi version of the piece is available upon request.

Zenobia Powell Perry’s Pastels for Orchestra (© 1986)

Edited by Jeannie Gayle Pool (© 2020)

23 pages (legal size); 5’40”

2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, 2 Clarinets in B-flat, Bass Clarinet, 2 Bassoons, 4 Horns in F, 2 Trumpets in B-flat, 3 Trombones, Tuba, Timpani, Strings (Violins I and II, Viola, Cello, and Double Bass)

Many thanks to Ira Hearshen ( for help in editing and to Bonnie Janofsky ( for the creation of the score and parts.

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