As I get into the second month of #NotBeethoven tweet thread, you may have noticed a couple things. First is that I occasionally feature composers outside of the Western Art Music (WAM) tradition(s). Second, the natural consequence of this is I have to highlight Composers of Color and Non-Eurocentric Instruments and Ensembles.1
So last night and into this new year I listened to Dora Pejačević’s Symphony in F sharp minor, Op. 41 (1918) in prep for what I’m calling my year of #NotBeethoven.* This is in response to Some. Of The. Pushback. To. making 2020 the year to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth.
A couple years ago I discovered a series of pieces title “America’s Other Orchestras” at Arab America and it helped me to solidify some thoughts I’ve been having about how we have discussions, and the narratives we create, about Orchestras and Classical Music. These are thoughts that were percolating at least since I first wrote a couple times about the Kennedy Center’s American Voices Festival back in 2013.
So a few days ago I started a thread on twitter about Classical Music and Colonialism. I’ve never done twitter thread before–never really considered using the social media platform as a way to convey more in-depth ideas. After having spent some time this past year following a few twitter users pretty faithfully and seeing how they’ve used threads I decided I wanted to try it out. The thread has gotten mostly positive responses and shares on various social media.
Diversity in Classical Music has been a hot topic lately, especially given the recent announcements of upcoming seasons of organizations and the pushback many are getting recently. With the introduction of the Women Composer Database and the Composer Diversity Project, therea a push for aggregating disparate lists of composers to decenter the White Male Canon by highlighting all the Women and PoC (People of Color) composers that have long been existing in the tradition but have been systemically excluded from it except in the most tokenistic of ways.