Opinion: Gender and racial balance in orchestra programming, slow to change

Posted on: August 1, 2019

“It’s Proms season—a chance for the classical music world to show that it’s moving with the times—and just as relevant today as it has always been,” writes Chi-chi Nwanoku in Friday’s (7/26) Guardian (U.K.). Nwanoku is founder of Chineke!, a U.K.-based black and minority-ethnic orchestra. “But it is yet another missed opportunity. I welcomed the BBC’s declaration last year that there would be a 50/50 gender balance in all new commissions of contemporary composers by 2020…. But more must be done. This year’s season includes work by 29 female composers, out of a total of 160. If we add ethnicity into the mix, the numbers become even more stark: of the BBC’s 13 new commissions for the season, only one is by a black female composer and one by a black male composer…. I have heard all the talk but action seems rare and slow…. Chineke! [played] this year’s two CBeebies Prom concerts … aimed at children aged two to six…. Chineke! could be the first live music experience for many in that audience of 13,000, and therefore what they see becomes the norm: a completely diverse orchestra…. Every single person in the auditorium had a blast.”

Posted August 1, 2019