Facing the lack of diversity at American orchestras

Posted on: May 5, 2022

Cellist Cole Randolph (center) performs with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, October 16, 2021. Randolph, an African American Fellow with the orchestra in 2020 who later won an audition to join as a full-time member, is among the musicians quoted in the article. Photo: Sarah Smarch/Detroit Symphony Orchestra

“Over the past 20 years, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra has employed three Black musicians full time, but none now,” writes Tim Diovanni in Thursday’s (5/5) Dallas Morning News. “It has four Latino musicians. The situation is not much different at the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, which has one Latino musician and two Black musicians…. After the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in 2020, U.S. orchestras responded to calls for action by featuring more composers of color and bringing in more diverse guest conductors and soloists than ever. But two years later, ‘far too little has been done’ to change how orchestras hire and keep their musicians, says the Black Orchestral Network, which was launched this week by Black musicians from more than 40 orchestras. Orchestras agree they need to better reflect the communities they serve so that more audiences—especially those historically underrepresented in concert halls…. They see this as vital to staying relevant in an increasingly diversifying nation…. Caen Thomason-Redus, vice president of inclusion and learning at the League of American Orchestras, underscores the need for change. ‘We should not persist as racially non-diverse organizations,’ he says. ‘That’s not heathy.’ ” The article includes data from two League of American Orchestras reports: Racial/Ethnic and Gender Diversity in the Orchestra Field and Forty Years of Fellowships: A Study of Orchestras’ Efforts to Include African American and Latino Musicians.