Valerie Coleman Named 2020 Classical Woman of the Year by American Public Media’s Performance Today

ST. PAUL, Minn., March 26, 2020 – Performance Today has named flutist and composer Valerie Coleman as the 2020 Classical Woman of the Year. The honor is granted annually to a woman who has made a significant contribution to classical music as a performer, composer, conductor, music teacher or supporter.

“Valerie is an extraordinary flutist, composer and founder of a groundbreaking ensemble, with an unflagging devotion to teaching and mentorship,” said Fred Child, host of Performance Today. “Our choice was clear. We are proud to name her as this year’s Classical Woman of the Year.”

Coleman will be honored on tomorrow’s episode of Performance Today and she will speak with Child about her extensive career in classical music and pieces on which she’s currently working. Performance Today will air a show focusing on Coleman’s music and performances on Wednesday, April 8.

“I am grateful to Performance Today and its listeners for supporting my music and naming me their Classical Woman of the Year,” said Coleman. “It is a privilege and I hope that my work as a flutist, composer, and educator at the Frost School of Music creates bridges and inspires healing to all who experience it, including the hybrid artists of tomorrow.” 

A GRAMMY-nominated artist, Coleman is the founder and former member of the internationally acclaimed ensemble Imani Winds. She has received many awards and commissions from organizations including Carnegie Hall, American Composers Orchestra and The Library of Congress.

Named one of the “Top 35 Women Composers” by Washington Post, Coleman is widely recognized for her composition “Umoja,” which made its orchestral debut last fall with the Philadelphia Orchestra at Carnegie Hall.

Coleman has dedicated much of her career to making music inclusive and is an advocate and mentor for emerging artists. She joined the faculty of Frost School of Music at the University of Miami in 2018 as Assistant Professor of Performance, Chamber Music and Entrepreneurship. She has led masterclasses across the United States and created the Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival, a New York City program devoted to career development and excellence.

“Professor Coleman is at the forefront and is an exemplar of 21st century musical careers. She is brilliant and renowned as a flute soloist, composer, chamber musician, ensemble leader, and entrepreneur,” said Shelton G. Berg, Dean of the Frost School of Music. “This is the elevated skill set we want for students in the Frost School of Music, and it is the recipe for being named Classical Woman of the Year!”

Coleman was selected by the staff of Performance Today based on listener nominations. Throughout the month of March, listeners submitted nominations of those who inspired them through their contributions to classical music.  


About American Public Media
American Public Media® is everywhere you listen. The national programming arm of Minnesota Public Radio, APM reaches 19 million listeners via approximately 1,000 radio stations nationwide each week. APM is one of the largest producers and distributors of public radio programming in the world, with a portfolio that includes BBC World Service, Marketplace®, and the leading classical music programming in the nation. APM’s award-winning podcasts span the best in investigative journalism, food, business and entertainment. For more information on MPR, visit For more information on APM, visit

Source: Data are copyright Nielsen Audio, Nationwide DMA data, Persons 12+, Fall ’18/Spring ‘19

Photo Courtesy of JAbreu