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Work Samples

a laying on of hands / i found god in myself

Recording from Broadway production for Colored Girls for which I served as composer. This clip features the song 'I Found God in Myself'. The music begins at 2:05.

Aye (or Return)

Composed, performed & arranged by Diana Wharton-Sennaar. Winner of the National Endowment of the Arts award in Jazz Composition.

Sweet Honey In The Rock - Doin' Things Together

Doin Things Together is a song that I composed. I am also playing piano on the track. The recording appears on Sweet Honey's eponymous album.

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About Diana

Diana Wharton-Sennaar's picture
Her work as a composer has garnered her such prestigious awards as the Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Maryland State Arts Council, Meet the Composer Grant and New Music America. She is also a founding member of the internationally renowned vocal ensemble, Sweet Honey in the Rock. She composed the music for the Broadway hit: “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf” and the PBS children’s production, “Getting To Know Me”. Her work... more

For Colored Girls...Original Broadway Production

I had the pleasure of composing the score for Broadway's second production by a black woman following Lorraine Hansberry's ​A Raisin in the Sun. Written by Ntozake Shange "For Colored Girls" premiered at the Booth Theater in 1976. My song, I Found God In Myself ​aligns with the play's resolution. With a line of dialogue as the lyrics, the song speaks of the journey to peace, self-love and self-acceptance for its protagonists. The play won the Tony award for Best Actress, an Obie award and a Drama Desk Award. It was also nominated for the Tony for Best Play. The play explores various experiences and challenges in black womanhood and of our a collective journey to healing. 

Sweet Honey in the Rock

​I've served as a composer, member and pianist for the world renowned vocal ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock.  As an all-woman, African-American a cappella ensemble, Sweet Honey is a three-time Grammy Award–nominated troupe who express their history as African-American women through song, dance, and sign language.

Select Album: African Pop From The New World

African Pop From The New World is my sophmore album. The track 'Aye (or Return)' earned me the National Endowment for the Arts Award in jazz composition. The album was inspired by my extensive travel and research in West Africa as a Guggenheim Fellow. It explores the challenges and beauty of transatlantic identity, specifically as it pertains to women. It is a musical fusion of folk, West African pop music (a la Salif Keita), with jazz and classical influences. It was also selected as part of the Women's Revolutions Per Minute Collection at the University of London. The collection features select feminist and cultural works of note.

Curating Work: The Women in Jazz Series

​I am a curator of the Women in Jazz Series through my music publishing company Ellika Music. Our mission is to honor the historical and contemporary contribution of women composers in the jazz genre. Through the series, I've had the pleasure curating performances by local women artists. We've also brought a diverse group of women artists to perform throughout Baltimore. Our latest performance was at the University of Baltimore African American Heritage Festival.

What I Feel

What I Feel reflects my interest in mentoring and collaborating with local women artists. Musically it fuses various genres and generations of music while emphasizing the power of the female voice.   It contains 11 selections. In the album liner notes, celebrated Baltimore culture writer Bret McCabe states: 

"The solo female vocal album can feel a bit dusty, a relic of a time when jazz was popular music and American Idol didn’t exist. The trick to making it work today isn’t trying to appeal to contemporary audiences, it’s writing songs that compliment the voice. That’s exactly what Diana Wharton Sennaar and Jaara Sennaar do for Hána on What I Feel, 11 tracks of ethereal beauty spotlighting a voice that feels whisper soft but lands a powerful emotional punch. Sure, some right-now sounds seep in—the R&B beat bounce of “Insanity,” the gentle hip-hop pulse of the title track—but for the most part the Sennaars recognize that a voice this refined needs only to be wrapped in a ghost of a melody and arrangements as delicately ornate as flowers. Look no further than “Heart 2 Love,” a flirtation between Hána and an acoustic guitar that starts off as a hushed secret and blossoms into a levitating rush as refreshing as a deep breath of ocean air. Elsewhere, the Sennaars put a dash of rhythmic spice underneath Hána’s husky vibrato (“Doin’ Things Together”), let her slow dance with a bass and drums groove that is as tender as a caress (“Pride”), and provide her with a fingersnapping ripple created by interlacing a lissome guitar line and percussive textures (the positively exuberant “Joy”). Perhaps most stunning of all is the haunting “Lovely Day,” a gentle piano and strings ballad that allows Hána to swoop in and take your breath away." 

  • What I Feel album (Written and Produced by Diana Wharton-Sennaar)

    What I Feel contains 11 selections, produced and written by the songwriting team of Diana Wharton Sennaar and her daughter Jaara Sennaar. In the album liner notes, Bret McCabe, former general arts critic for the City Paper and Johns Hopkins Magazine writer says the following: The solo female vocal album can feel a bit dusty, a relic of a time when jazz was popular music and American Idol didn’t exist. The trick to making it work today isn’t trying to appeal to contemporary audiences, it’s writing songs that compliment the voice.
  • Pride

    Written by Jaara Sennaar. Co-arranged and Produced by Diana Wharton-Sennaar.
  • A Different Insanity

    Written by Jaara Sennaar. Diana Wharton-Sennaar, producer & co-arranger. Vocals by Hana Shabazz. Keyboard & Piano Diana Wharton-Sennaar
  • Lovely Day

    Written by Diana Wharton-Sennaar. Vocals by Hana Shabazz. Diana Wharton-Sennaar on piano and synth strings.
  • What I Feel

    Written and co-arranged by Diana Wharton-Sennaar.
  • Pride

    Composed by Jaara Sennaar. co-Arranged and produced by Diana Wharton-Sennaar

Community Building through the Arts: Piano for Youth

I am the co-founder and director of Piano for Youth, an award-wining Maryland-based organization. As the leading organization of its kind in the US, Piano for Youth aims to close the academic achievement gap by fostering academic excellence, confidence and leadership skills through music education, piano instruction and public performance. Acknowledged in 2013 by Howard County, Maryland with Piano for Youth Day and as a recipient of a 2014 Bright Minds Grant, PFY continues to be the annual recipient of honors and proclamations from Maryland's Governors, Baltimore's Mayors and the Baltimore City Council from 2013-2017. Our programming features year-round piano lessons, a summer camp which was last held at School 33 Art Center an elite core of touring young performers. Performance venues include: Walters Art Museum, Johns Hopkins University, the Baltimore War Memorial Museum, the Douglass Myers Maritime Museum, Howard University, the New Jersey Public Library in Jersey City and For My Sweet Arts Center in Brooklyn, NY.

  • Children's Piano Choir

    The Children's Piano Choir is Piano for Youth's elite core of performing students. The CPC has been invited to perform in various venues across the US and has received press from Fox 45 News, The Afro Newspaper, the South Jersey Times.
  • Piano for Youth on WEAA (Marsha Jews)

    Piano for Youth Director Diana Wharton-Sennaar and the performance ensemble of PFY, the Children's Piano Choir on Marsha Jews show "Keep It Movin" (starts 32:10)
  • Children's Piano Choir

    The Children's Piano Choir is Piano for Youth's elite core of performing students. The CPC has been invited to perform in various venues across the US and has received press from Fox 45 News, The Afro Newspaper, the South Jersey Times.
  • Children's Piano Choir

    The Children's Piano Choir is Piano for Youth's elite core of performing students. The CPC has been invited to perform in various venues across the US and has received press from Fox 45 News, The Afro Newspaper, the South Jersey Times.
  • The Children's Piano Choir

    The Children's Piano Choir is Piano for Youth's elite core of performing students. The CPC has been invited to perform in various venues across the US and has received press from Fox 45 News, The Afro Newspaper, the South Jersey Times and WEAA 88.9 Radio.
  • Children's Piano Choir

    Community service is a central element of our work and has been recognized by government officials including Governor Martin O’Malley, the Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and former Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. Piano for Youth is also a recipient of a 2014 Bright Minds Grant and was acknowledged in by Howard County, MD with Piano for Youth Day.
  • The Children's Piano Choir of Piano for Youth

    Diana Wharton-Sennaar is the co-founder and director of Piano for Youth. As the leading organization of its kind in the US, Piano for Youth aims to close the academic achievement gap by fostering academic excellence, confidence and leadership skills through music education, piano instruction and public performance. Community service is a central element of our work and has been recognized by government officials including Governor Martin O’Malley, the Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and former Howard County Executive Ken Ulman.

Select Album (Soundtrack) The Fall of the Kings

I recently composed original music for the The Fall of the Kings. Designed in consonance with the play's World War II backdrop and ballet themes, the music is full of uptempo jazz and ballads featuring strings.The soundtrack also features Grammy-nominated trumpeter Chrisitan Scott aTunde Adjuah. The Fall of the Kings play featured an award-winning cast & crew: Choreographer, Dyane Harvey-Salaam’s credits include The Wiz (original stage and film versions) and the classic Spike Lee film School Daze. Set designer, Christopher Cumberbatch’s, work has appeared both in theater and in the Spike Lee films Crooklyn and Malcolm X. The play was written and directed by NYU alum playwright Mai Sennaar.

  • The Fall of the Kings Original Soundtrack CD

    Diana Wharton-Sennaar composed all original music for the new hit New York theater production, The Fall of the Kings. Wharton-Sennaar can also be heard on all vocals and piano. The soundtrack also features Grammy-nominated trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah and Blair Skinner on the violin who is the conductor for the Johns Hopkins University Concert Orchestra. Percussionist and music educator Jose Ortiz is also featured.
  • Claudine's Theme with Violin

    Composed and arr. by Diana Wharton-Sennaar. Featuring Blair Skinner on violin. Blair Skinner is the conductor of the Johns Hopkins University Concert Orchestra.
  • Fall of the Kings CD (Compilation)

    Excerpts from tracks (also on sample above)
  • Fall of the Kings Sylvia's Theme (Ballad)

    Composed and arranged by Diana Wharton-Sennaar. Grammy nominee Christian Scott-aTunde Adjuah on trumpet.
  • Sylvia's Theme (Swing)

    Composed by Diana Wharton-Sennaar. Grammy nominee Christian Scott-aTunde Adjuah on trumpet. arr, Wendel Patrick additional instrumentation)
  • Fall of the Kings Cha Cha/Mambo Reprise

    Composed and arranged by Diana Wharton-Sennaar. Jose Ortiz on drums.
  • Turner's Theme

    Written and performed by Diana Wharton-Sennaar.

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Diana's Curated Collection

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