Opinion: Australian orchestras lag behind in programming music by First Nations peoples, women, composers of color

Posted on: June 29, 2022

“A new report from the Institute for Composer Diversity, produced in partnership with the League of American Orchestras and based on data from hundreds of orchestras across the United States, found that compositions by women and people of color made up almost one quarter (23 percent) of pieces programmed by orchestras in the 2021-22 season, up from just five percent in 2015,” writes Hugh Robertson in Saturday’s (6/24) Limelight (Australia). “There is a similar percentage of works by living composers.… These figures are in stark contrast to programming by Australian orchestras, who have been criticized in recent years for conservative and unrepresentative programming…. Before COVID forced the cancellation of so many concerts, Australian orchestras only had between one and six percent of their advertised programs comprising works by Australian composers, save the Adelaide Symphony who came in at 15.9 percent…. The past two years have been a time of major change, with new Chief Conductors appointed in Sydney, Melbourne and Queensland, new Chief Executives in Sydney and Queensland.… We wait to see whether Australian orchestras will finally make room for music by First Nations peoples, women, gender non-conforming people, composers of color, and living composers.”