Interview answers for an Arabic Music thesis project by Ribal El Kallab

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.

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Diversity in Classical Music vs Diversity of Classical Music

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.

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American Orchestras that already regularly play music by POC

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.

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The Invisible Hand of the Great White Male Musical and Artistic Canons

In my previous post I discussed how ridiculously easy it would be to avoid the Art of Monstrous Men, and the post before that discusses how to Decolonize the Musical Mind. The past couple of days I’ve come across some interesting pieces about diversity in the arts (or lack thereof). The first was a piece about bringing the art of women, long buried in storage of the Uffizi Galleries in Florence, to light; the second was a piece about how the High Museum in Atlanta tripled its Nonwhite audience in two years by, well, increasing the diversity in its programming, staff, and marketing; and the third is a rebuttal of one of the myths justifying the Great White Canon of Classical Music.

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How Easy is it to Avoid the Art of Monstrous Men?

Actually, it’s ridiculously easy.

I’ll just stick to music, since that’s what I usually focus on in this blog. And let me qualify the “ridiculously easy” by stating that I’m referring to the work of folks that may only be scratching the surface of those that remain unaccused–there may very well (and very likely) that there are many more “Monstrous Men” out there. Granted, we may all have different definitions of what constitutes “Monstrous Men” but expand or contract that definition for yourself at your leisure.

Continue reading “How Easy is it to Avoid the Art of Monstrous Men?”