Artists of Asian descent speak out about racism and discrimination in the classical music field

Posted on: July 21, 2021

David Kim, a violist in the San Francisco Symphony. Photo: Jessica Chou/New York Times

“As reports of anti-Asian hate crimes spread in the United States earlier this year, David Kim, a violist in the San Francisco Symphony, found himself despondent,” writes Javier Hernández in Wednesday’s (7/21) New York Times. “Kim, who is Korean American, … in March … resigned as the sole musician of color on an orchestra committee focused on equity and inclusion…. In May, he took time off, feeling on several occasions too distraught to play. ‘I felt invisible, even though I was speaking very loudly,’ Kim said…. By some measures, artists with roots in China, Japan, South Korea and other countries are well represented in classical music…. But … many face routine racism and discrimination, according to interviews with more than 40 orchestra players, soloists, opera singers, composers, students, teachers and administrators. Asian artists encounter stereotypes that their music-making is soulless and mechanical…. They … have become targets of online harassment and racial slurs…. ‘You get written off as an automaton,’ said Akiko Tarumoto, the assistant concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic…. Kim, the violist at the San Francisco Symphony … says he believes change will not come until classical music … reckons with its legacy of intolerance.” The article includes ​interviews with several Asian American classical musicians, conductors, and directors, as well as data from the League of American Orchestras.