About the Piece

Pastels was first read in a workshop by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 1986, conducted by Paul Freeman (1936-2015), as part of the African American Composers Festival in Detroit.

The composer 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, form 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.”

The publisher thanks Ira Hearshen (www.hearshenmusic.com) who assisted with editing of the score and Bonnie Janofsky for the music copying and the creation of the parts. (www.bonniejanofsky.com)


2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, 2 B-flat Clarinets; 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).

Score and parts available for purchase:


About the Composer

Born in Oklahoma, Zenobia Perry had only been playing the piano for a few years when she won her first piano competition and decided to pursue a career in music. She finished school and moved to New York to study privately with another African-American composer, Robert Nathaniel Dett. Perry began composing in the 1950’s, and in 1987 wrote the opera, Tawawa House. She won many awards, including a Music Citation for distinguished service in 1987, a Woman of the Year Award in 1999, and the Ohio Cultural Arts Award in 2002.

A biography of the composer is available at:



Available for downloading at: