Upping the number of orchestra musicians of color, with audition support

Posted on: January 2, 2019

“It is unlikely that most audience members of color will see musicians who look like them on the stage” at orchestra concerts, writes Sameer Rao in Thursday’s (12/27) Color Lines.  “In April, to boost the number of Latinx and Black orchestra players in the U.S., the League of American Orchestras partnered with the Sphinx Organization and New World Symphony to launch the National Alliance for Audition Support (NAAS)…. Orchestral organizations have been grappling with racial and gender parity since at least the 1980s. But in 2015 the League and its partners decided to focus on audition support. At what League president Jesse Rosen calls ‘the big meeting,’ the League and the Mellon Foundation gathered 45 musicians, scholars, arts administrators and other orchestra stakeholders to establish task forces around industry equity issues…. ‘We heard musician after musician stand up and say [that] the cost of auditioning was simply prohibitive,’ Rosen recounts…. At this point, NAAS is … open to students who are at least two years into their undergraduate educations and are seriously job searching.” Says NAAS-supported cellist Magali Toy, “If kids can see role models that they can identify with in a symphony, from a young age, that will help.”
Click the following links to read Symphony magazine articles about the establishment of NAAS, and the NAAS experience from the musicians’ perspective.

Posted January 2, 2019

In photo: A musician plays French horn during the 2018 SphinxConnect conference in Detroit, Michigan. Photo courtesy of the Sphinx Organization and New World Symphony