Opinion: Advocating for a bolder approach to diversifying orchestral programming

Posted on: February 20, 2018

“While many commentators have recognized the need for diversity in orchestral programming, the institutions of our genre have largely failed to offer music by women composers or composers of color,” write Rebecca Lenetjes and Jeffrey Arlo Brown in Thursday’s (2/15) VAN magazine. “We emailed the League of American Orchestras asking if the organization had a way of rewarding members for meeting diversity goals. Rachelle Schlosser, the League’s press representative, responded that it has ‘made diversity, equity, and inclusion a priority in its current operating strategy,’ with a focus on auditions, music education, and board and staff diversity. Schlosser mentioned their Women Composers Readings and Commissions program, and that the organization ‘publicize[s] related resources’ like the Women Composers database…. This approach … might not be confrontational enough…. Programming already fulfills pragmatic functions besides the veneration of only the very best high art. In the future, one of those functions must be to represent the orchestra’s community with accuracy.… The composer Emma O’Halloran has written, ‘I didn’t even know women could be composers until my early twenties.’ … For women and people of color to feel safe expressing themselves for orchestra, they need to know that expressing themselves is possible.”

Posted February 20, 2018