League Conference in Baltimore: addressing diversity and orchestras

Posted on: June 9, 2016

The League of American Orchestras “opens a three-day national conference Thursday in a majority African-American city at a time of increased racial tensions and heightened awareness of economic and educational disadvantages,” writes Tim Smith in Wednesday’s (6/8) Baltimore Sun. “The principal topic of the 2016 gathering in Baltimore: diversity…. ‘This is the first time we’ve made diversity an overarching theme, the focal point of our conference,’ said Jesse Rosen, president and CEO of the League…. ‘We thought it was the right time.’ ” The conference is being hosted by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. “ ‘The league is doing everything it can to bring this issue more to front-of-mind consciousness that can’t be ignored,’ said Paul Meecham, the BSO’s outgoing president and CEO…. The conference will include contributions from people outside the orchestra environment. The keynote speaker is Earl Lewis, president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and a scholar of African-American history. ‘And for the closing session, DeRay Mckesson is coming to speak,’ Rosen said, ‘not as an orchestra person, but someone deeply involved in issues of law enforcement, crime in American cities, and the Black Lives Matter movement.’ ” Also discussed are OrchKids, the BSO’s music education program in Baltimore schools, and diversity programs of Florida’s New World Symphony, the Houston Symphony, and Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Posted June 9, 2016

Pictured: Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Music Director Marin Alsop in rehearsal with children in the BSO’s OrchKids free music-education program