Aiming for diversity at Minneapolis and St. Paul orchestras

Posted on: June 27, 2016

“Created to achieve gender equity in the classical world, the blind audition forces a committee to judge a musician’s worth strictly on sound,” writes Graydon Royce in Friday’s (6/24) Star Tribune (Minneapolis). “In 1920 there was one woman in what is now the Minnesota Orchestra. Today, 47 percent of the 76 rostered musicians are women…. The hope is to get the orchestral world looking more like America in the 20th century.… [The League of American Orchestras] made diversity the theme of its just-concluded annual conference in Baltimore.… Orchestra musicians insist that the blind audition is only part of the process. Said Sam Bergman, chair of the Minnesota Orchestra’s musicians’ governing body, ‘We look at everything.’ ” Also included is a discussion of diversifying classical repertoire. In 2016-17 the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra will program the First Symphony by Chevalier de Saint-Georges, “the first known classical composer of African ancestry. ‘The big opportunity is what’s going to happen on the main stages,’ said [League President and CEO Jesse] Rosen. ‘Orchestras have worked on diversity through community and educational work while holding constant in the subscription series repertory. There’s going to be some rethinking about that.’ ”

Posted June 27, 2016