Talking about orchestra diversity in Chicago

Posted on: June 7, 2016

“The Grant Park Music Festival opens in two weeks, making classical music accessible to anyone who’s interested,” writes Brandis Friedman on Monday (6/6) at Chicago radio station WTTW. “But the makeup of orchestras across the country doesn’t always reflect that of the surrounding communities.” In a discussion of orchestra diversity, Friedman interviews Isaias Nava, a junior at Lincoln Park High School who plays the tuba; Charlie Grode, executive director of Chicago’s Merit School of Music; Kris Hedlund, who teaches at Chopin Elementary School in Ukrainian Village; Marlea Simpson, 21, who plays this summer in the Grant Park Orchestra and is also principal viola for the Chicago Sinfonietta, where she was previously was in the Sinfonietta’s Project Inclusion fellowship program to increase diversity in orchestras; and Carlos Kalmar, artistic director of the Grant Park Music Festival. Topics covered include exposure to classical music at a young age, removing financial and other barriers to studying music, and the importance of role models. Also cited is a survey by the League of American Orchestras’ members showing that 1.8 percent of orchestra musicians are African-American, 2.5 percent are Latino, and Asian and Pacific Islanders make up 9 percent, while 85.5 percent are white.

Posted June 7, 2016

In photo: Violist Marlea Simpson