Report: American orchestras playing more works by women and composers of color

Posted on: June 22, 2022

“American orchestras have long fallen short when it comes to performing compositions by women and people of color, sticking to a canon of music dominated by white, largely male composers,” writes Javier C. Hernández in Tuesday’s (6/21) New York Times. “But the protests over racial justice and gender disparities in the United States appear to have prompted some change. Compositions by women and people of color now make up about 23 percent of the pieces performed by orchestras, up from only about 5 percent in 2015, according to [the 2022 Orchestra Repertoire Report] released on Tuesday by the Institute for Composer Diversity at the State University of New York at Fredonia. The increase comes amid a concerted effort in the performing arts to promote music by women and people of color, prompted in part by the #MeToo movement and the death of George Floyd. ‘The change that has been talked about for a very long time has suddenly been tremendously accelerated,’ Simon Woods, president and chief executive of the League of American Orchestras, which helped produce the report, said in an interview…. The League of American Orchestras, aiming to make works by living composers a more permanent part of the orchestral landscape, announced [the Virginia B. Toulmin Orchestral Commissions Program] last month to enlist 30 ensembles in the next several years to perform new pieces by six composers, all of them women.” Read the complete Repertoire Report.