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.
A couple weeks ago I was approached by Lebanese cellist, Ribal El Kallab, to answer some questions for a thesis project on Arabic music that he is working on. I’ve been given permission to post his questions and my responses. If you are interested in my general background in music from the Arabic and Middle Eastern world, please visit this link.
For some information on the usage of cello in Arabic music, please view my blog post Sunday Spotlight on the Non-Western Cello: The Cello in Arabic Orchestras.
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.
So there’s been a lot of chatter about diversity (or lack thereof) in Classical Music and Orchestras the past few weeks. Just some examples: Holly Mulcahy’s piece about diversifying orchestra audition excerpts; Eric William Lin’s discussion (with wonderful interactive graphs) of NY Phil’s rep over 175 seasons; Rob Deemer’s unveiling (in a little more formal venue) of the massive database of Women Composers that he and his students have been curating for some time; and, of course, Anne Shreffler’s piece about the Canon’s Invisible Hand which I discussed previously.