News and music to start your week!

Nine Black musicians spoke to the New York Times about their experiences, and describe the steps they would like to see being made in transforming the field to being more inclusive.  Hear from Monica Ellis, Thomas Wilkins, Jessie Montgomery, Rodrick Cox, Anthony McGill, Lawrence Brownlee, Terence Blanchard, Latonia Moore, and Tania Leon (pictured above),

New York Times music critic Anthony Tommasini says in a thought piece from last week that the only way that symphony orchestras are going to become more diverse is by removing blind auditions.  He argues that what was a necessary step in identifying the inherent racial and gendered prejudices held by orchestra administrations, blind auditions are not enough, as symphony orchestras continue to be one of the most segregated workplaces in the United States.  This reminds us of earlier discussions of blind auditions, by our friend Maia Jasper White at Salastina Chamber Music, who points out that musicians today need to be team members and community supporters, not just sound “the best.”  And Aaron Dworkin, of the Sphinx Institute, argues that sometimes “Excellence can just be an excuse.”

The Washington Post also had a piece by Michael Andor Brodeur about the “long overdue reckoning with racism” that the classical music world is facing.

OPERA America has announced their winners of the OPERA America’s Opera Grants for Female Composers: Commissioning Grants program.  Congratulations go to Emily Koh, Du Yun, Ellen Reid, Heather Christian, Nell Shaw Cohen, Kamala Sankaram, Stella C. Y. Sung, Missy Mazzoli, and Rima Fand.  Read more at Broadway World.

Joshua Barone of the New York Times take’s opera’s race problem head on.  The by-line for the piece makes it clear enough, “As the industry rebuilds from the Coronavirus pandemic, it must face long-simmering issues of representation.”  Read on here.

Laura Colgate, co-founder of The Boulanger Initiative, has been appointed Concertmaster of the National Philharmonic. We so admire the work of The Boulanger Initiative, and also the National Philharmonic. which (for instance) performed Amy Beach’s monumental Mass in 2011.  We can look forward to brilliant and important endeavors (as we find the new normal for performance situations).

Please let us know your thoughts about race issues in orchestral music, as well as how we can best address the continuing issues of gender diversity among classical composers.  [email protected]