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. Named Performance Today’s 2020 Classical Woman of the Year, and 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.
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. She has given countless flute and chamber music masterclasses at institutions in 49 states and over 5 continents. Coleman’s work as a recording artist features an extensive discography, and her compositions and performances are regularly heard on the air domestically and internationally.
Her work as a composer has garnered several awards such as the Herb Alpert Awards Ragdale Prize, Van Lier Fellowship, MAPFund, and ASCAP Honors Award. 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.”
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 New York City that has welcomed musicians from over 100 institutions both nationally and abroad.
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 and has her own company, VColeman Music. Valerie currently is an Assistant Professor and Director of Chamber Music at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami.