Diversity in American orchestras increasing, albeit slowly

Posted on: May 17, 2011

In Sunday’s (5/15) Fort Wayne Journal Gazette (Indiana), Emma Downs writes about diversity in American orchestras. “As of 2008, roughly 87 percent of the musicians in orchestras nationwide were white, according to the League of American Orchestras. The Fort Wayne Philharmonic’s diversity is slightly greater than the national average. White artists make up 81 percent of the local orchestra. Slowly but surely, the national disparity is changing, says John Bence, director of public relations for the League of American Orchestras. ‘Change happens slowly in orchestras,’ he says. ‘Orchestras are like universities. There is a tenure for the artists. Once you’re a member of an orchestra, you can be there for life. So a pipeline begins to form. But we are seeing a change.’ … Some programs, such as the Boston Symphony’s Project STEP, the Chicago Sinfonietta and the Atlanta Symphony’s Talent Development program, target minority musicians specifically. Violinist and music educator Aaron Dworkin is the founder of a similar program, the Sphinx Organization, which is entering its 15th year. … Locally, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic exposes children to classical music via programs such as Discovery Concerts, school concerts, Young People’s Concerts and Club O. Access to music bridges racial, ethnic and economic disparity, says Aaron Butler, director of education for the Fort Wayne Philharmonic.”


Posted May 17, 2011