Editorial: early exposure to music and diverse programming critical to orchestras’ future

Posted on: June 13, 2016

“The League of American Orchestras is meeting in Baltimore this week to talk about how to foster greater diversity in its industry,” notes an editorial in Thursday’s (6/9) Baltimore Sun. League President Jesse Rosen “says the goal of the conference this year is to create a dialogue in which people can introduce new perspectives on the issue and offer strategies to address it.”  Since exposing schoolchildren to music is critical to maintaining the orchestral audience, “initiatives like the [Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s] OrchKids program, which offers free instruments and music lessons to about 1,000 city youngsters each year, are so important for the symphony’s future.” Orchestras should also adopt programming “that will appeal to a broader audience. The Detroit Symphony, for example, offers an excellent jazz series as well as classical programs…. And last year the Cincinnati [Symphony] Orchestra commissioned African-American composers to create orchestral works celebrating the 150th anniversary of the passage of the 13th Amendment, which freed the slaves after the Civil War.” The Baltimore Symphony’s free outdoor concert “in the immediate aftermath of the violence that erupted following the death of Freddie Gray” was a “vindication of the idea that when orchestras make a point of reaching out to new, non-traditional audiences, people will listen.”  

Posted June 13, 2016

Pictured: Marin Alsop leads the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in a free outdoor concert in West Baltimore, May 2015, following the death of Freddie Gray.