About the New Canon Chamber Collective
Music of the Unsung is an annual multi-event concert and conversation series that features a wide spectrum of Black musicians from the classical arts for and from the South Florida community, including Joseph Jones and Dwight Banks’ works. Working with the American Composers Forum (ACF) – as part of their ACF I connect program – Music of the Unsung launched a call for scores to identify Jones and Banks for this opportunity. ACF is offering creative and administrative support for the development and launch of the full series over the next year. As a 2019 Knight Arts Challenge winner with lead funding from the John S. and James L Knight Foundation, Music of the Unsung America was launched by double bassist and entrepreneur Portia Dunkley. The mission of Music of the Unsung is to address the need for more diverse representation in South Florida in classical music arts. In 2021, Portia Dunkley founded the New Canon Chamber Collective Inc. (an affiliate of UpBeat Miami), a non-profit, South Florida-based chamber ensemble, to further this mission.
The New Canon Chamber collective is committed to social justice by creating an artistic platform that truly prioritizes building community through the classical music arts and genuinely reflects the rich cultural landscape of South Florida.
About the Founder
Born to immigrant parents, Portia Dunkley is a native of Miami, FL with Bahamian and Haitian Caribbean roots. Early on in life, she was introduced to the double bass and continued her studies graduating from The New World School of The Arts in Miami, FL and attended Florida State University where she received both a bachelor’s degree in performance and a Master Degree in Arts Administration. She currently resides in South Florida where she continues the joy of creating music with her husband, jazz trombonist, Waldron Dunkley and daughter Auriel, who also plays double bass.
In 2017, Portia started Teeny Violini, a mobile music education program for preschools and afterschool programs, providing music education services for historically underserved communities, reaching over 600 students from preschool-5th grade through weekly programming.
In 2019 Portia was chosen as a Fellow for the SphinxL.EA.D (Leaders in Excellence, arts and Diversity) inaugural cohort. In that same year she was recognized by the Knight Foundation with an Arts Challenge Grant for her project, Music of the Unsung America, a multi event lecture-concert series that highlights music compositions by Black composers in the shadows of history. This project creates opportunities for Black and Latinx professional classical musicians in South Florida to perform works by Black and other minority composers left out of the “traditional” canon of music. Most recently she was a recipient of the American Composers’ Forum, ACF Connect Fellowship and grant. Inspired by her own experience as a Black woman musician and double bassist and having learned about these Black composers late in her career, Portia hopes that her work with New Canon Chamber Collective will help build communities of belonging, amplify the voices and creative talents of marginalized artists and inspire young people of all cultures to see themselves reflected in classical music.