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Changing the color of classical music

Just four percent of classical American symphony musicians are black; but that's not for lack of talent
Changing the composition of classical music 02:21

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- A festival in South Carolina is trying to change the color of classical music. Less than four percent of classical American symphony musicians are African American, but that's not because of the talent pool.

Maestro Marlon Daniel conducts not only the orchestra, but the entire festival called the Colour of Music, now in its third year.

An all African American orchestra plays at the Colour of Music festival

"You know a lot of musicians of color get pigeon-holed into jazz and hip-hop and all these things. It's a big stereotype," said Marlon.

"A lot of people think there are not any musicians of color out there doing classical music, when there actually are, in reality, tons of us."

Clarinetist Robert Davis says in most symphonies he sticks out as a black classical artist, but not here.

Clarinetist Robert Davis, center, plays with other musicians from the Colour of Music CBS News

"You usually see the same ones, you know. But then I came down here, and there's a whole other group," Davis said of the festival. "It's like where are they coming from? So I was really shocked about that."

The festival also highlights black classical composers, like Adolphus Hailstork.

His "Church Street Serenade" was performed just one block away from the historic black church where a white gunman opened fire and killed nine people in June.

Businessman Lee Pringle, who founded the event, hopes the festival will help diversify other orchestras.

Lee Pringle founded the Colour of Music festival CBS News

"I think that most orchestras want to change, they just don't know how to change," said Pringle. "They change by having people at the table who look like me."

"Music should be color blind, and to make it that way, you have to infuse in it all of the colors," Marlon continued.

A unique unity, that for a few days at least, makes for an especially powerful sound.

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