About the Dolphy Prize


Alea Publishing & Recording

Founded in 1997, Alea is a small, family-run business specializing in music for the bass clarinet. Founded by Michael and Kimberly Davenport, a father-daughter duo, it grew out of the desire to share the beauty of the bass clarinet with a wider audience, through the publication of both pedagogical material and new works.

In the 20+ years since Alea’s founding, we have developed an extensive catalog including works by composers from around the world. As performing musicians ourselves, we pride ourselves on the accuracy and quality of our sheet music, and the fairness and simplicity of our composer contracts.

Visit our online catalog here: www.bassclarinet.org

Origins of the Dolphy Prize

As a specialized publisher of sheet music for a particular instrument, we recognize the power we have to shape the nature of the repertoire available to performers. In creating the Dolphy Prize, we aim to take a proactive role in facilitating the publication of more works by Black composers.

Why now? The Dolphy Prize comes about at this moment in our history for two reasons. First, events of the Spring of 2020 have made clear that systemic racism remains a critical issue in our society. We acknowledge that the vast majority of composers represented in our catalog are Caucasian, and we can make both an impact and a statement with the awarding of this annual prize. #BlackLivesMatter

Secondly, we have been searching for an appropriate way to recognize the legacy of Michael Davenport since his passing in 2019. It was his artistic vision that drove us for many years, and which continues to inspire our work. We know that he would be proud that we are making this effort to support the diversification of voices represented in music for the bass clarinet.

Eric Dolphy

Eric Dolphy (1928-1964) was an American jazz multi-instrumentalist. His eloquent and virtuosic use of the bass clarinet helped to establish the instrument within jazz.

As a young clarinet and saxophone student in the 1950s, Michael Davenport was introduced to both classical and jazz repertoire, practicing bebop solo transcriptions alongside Mozart and Brahms and Rose etudes. Later in life, he felt strongly that the work of Dolphy to establish the bass clarinet within jazz was just as vital to the development of the instrument as the work of pioneering classical bass clarinetists like Josef Horak and Henri Bok.

Like many Black men of his time and ours, Dolphy’s skills and legacy are often overlooked or underestimated. We share his name to inspire anyone who does not know his work to explore it.

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