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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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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Myth of the “General Audience,” Classical Music, and Token Activism

One of the most enduring myths, and one that complements and amplifies the Monolithic Pop Culture trope discussed in a previous post is the Myth of the General Audience. Like the Monolithic Pop Culture, the General Audience requires an assumption of homogeneity to a population that simply doesn’t exist.  By maintaining the homogeneity of the General Audience the Monolithic Pop Culture can be treated as a singular and undifferentiated mass while ignoring the actual differences between different audiences and the populations from where these audiences come.

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