Lettie Alston

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Lettie Beckon Alston (born 1953) is an American composer known for her piano work and a longstanding series of concerts, "Lettie Alston and Friends."


Alston was born in 1953 in Detroit.[1]

Alston attended Wayne State University for her undergraduate and masters degrees.[2] In 1983, she earned her doctorate in musical composition from the University of Michigan (UM) where she had studied with Leslie Bassett, William Bolcom and Eugene Kurtz.[1][2] She was the first African-American to earn this degree from UM.[2]


Alston's work includes traditional, as well as electronic instruments.[3] She has composed for orchestra, chamber and vocal groups.[3]

In 1995, Alston started a series of concerts at Oakland University called, "Lettie Alston and Friends."[4] The concerts featured contemporary classical music usually based around a central theme.[2][4] The last of these concerts took place in 2008.[2]

In 2001, her work was recorded on a two CD set, Keyboard Maniac. [5] The set highlighted both her work on acoustic and electric piano.[5] She passed away in 2014 while vacationing in Hawaii.

Selected works[edit]

Instrumental Solos[edit]


Pulsations (unaccompanied). 1974, revised 1993. Duration 10:00. Three movements. Recorded by Gregory Walker, Kaleidoscope: Music by African-American women (Leonarda CD-LE339). Library: AMRC, IU-USM. Available from: Alston. [6]


Three implied jesters (unaccompanied). 1975. Available from: Alston. [6]


Visions (piano, marimba). 1979, revised 1993. Duration: 7:00. Performances include Larry Kaptein, marimba, Lettie Beckon Allston, piano, University of Michigan Symposium on Black Women Composers, August 1985. Library: AMRC. Available from: Alston. [6]


Four moods for piano. 1993. Duration: 12:00. Performances include the Unisys African-American Forum Chamber Music Concert, Orchestra Hall, Detroit, April 1993. Library: AMRC, IU-USM. Available from Alston. [6]

Moods for piano. 1975. Duration: 5:00. Library: AMRC, Available from Alston. [6]


  1. ^ a b Gray, Anne (2007). The World of Women in Classical Music. La Jolla, Calif.: WordWorld. pp. 211. ISBN 978-1-59975-320-1. OCLC 123539910.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Lettie Beckon Alston Scores and Other Material". Black Metropolis Research Consortium. Retrieved December 14, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Walker-Hill, Helen (2007). From Spirituals to Symphonies: African-American Women Composers and Their Music. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. pp. 42. ISBN 978-0-252-07454-7. lettie alston and friends.
  4. ^ a b Stryker, Mark (February 6, 2004). "Big Weekend for the DSO". Detroit Free Press. p. 44. Retrieved December 14, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ a b Stryker, Mark (May 20, 2001). "Detroit Disc". Detroit Free Press. p. 70. Retrieved December 14, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ a b c d e Walker-Hill, Helen (1995). Music by Black women composers : a bibliography of available scores. Chicago: Center for Black Music Research, Columbia College. ISBN 0-929911-04-0. OCLC 31971765.

External links[edit]