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.
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.
One of the hallmarks of the Classical Music Crisis viewpoint is the idea that Classical Music, as a field, is insular and cut off from what has been variously referred to as the “Wider World,” “Outside World,” or “Real World.” The purpose of this kind of rhetoric is to contrast the Classical Music field with the world-at-large by showing how cut-off and unconcerned it is with issues that loom in the world outside of it.