I'm Possible

Wednesday, October 6, 2021, 6:30 - 8pm

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Richard Antoine White, the first Black American to ever earn a doctorate in music for tuba performance and currently the only Black male full professor of tuba in the country, will be in conversation with Lawrence Brownlee, a leading figure in opera, both as a singer on the world's top stages, and as a voice for activism and diversity in the industry.  

The free online program celebrates the launch of Dr. White's memoir, I'M POSSIBLE: A Story of Survival, a Tuba, and the Small Miracle of a Big Dream, as well as a recent mini documentary, produced by Early Light media, now streaming on Discovery's Magnolia +, which chronicles his rise from the streets of Baltimore's most impoverished neighborhood to the halls of the New Mexico Philharmonic. It is both a reckoning and a recording of Dr. White's miraculous musical journey, one faced with adversity (from homelessness to racism in a field that rarely sees performers like him) and celebration as he with the help of countless others, forever changed American music.

Registration required.

Richard Antoine White began his tuba studies at the Baltimore School for the Performing Arts, where he graduated with honors. He went on to receive his bachelor's degree at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, and his master's and doctoral degrees at Indiana University. Dr. White was principal tubist of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra from 2004 until its untimely demise in 2011. He is now principal tubist of the Santa Fe Symphony and is in his tenth season as principal tubist of the New Mexico Philharmonic. He enjoys teaching at the University of Mexico, where he is associate professor of tuba/euphonium.

Lawrence Brownlee
Photo by Shervin Lainez

With an ever-increasing presence in opera, recital, and concerts, Lawrence Brownlee has cemented his place as one of the top artists in classical music. He has been hailed as “an international star in the bel canto operatic repertory” by The New York Times and “one of the most in-demand opera singers in the world today” by NPR. He is a regular guest at the world's most important opera houses including The Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, and Royal Opera House - Covent Garden, among others. Amidst the challenges of COVID-19, Brownlee has emerged as a pivotal voice in classical music’s shift toward digital programming and the resurgence of conversations around racial justice. In May 2020, he launched “ The Sitdown with LB,” a weekly Facebook Live series which explores the experience of being an African-American opera singer.


  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.