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Atlanta under fire for racial imbalance

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra ends a turbulent year with an attack on its recent decision to disinvite two schools from its choral program because they were excessively white. But the orchestra itself, writes this local observer, has only one black player on its books.

So what’s going on: showboating for the kiddies, while maintaining discrimination at the top?

Not for the first time, the hardhats who run the ASO have critical questions to answer. The musicians, for their part, reach out to all schools, regardless of colour composition.

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  1. Vovka Ashkenazy says:

    I think the choice of orchestral players should be based on merit, not skin colour, and counting the number of players based on skin colour should be a non-issue; it does not matter how many blacks, whites, browns or yellows there are.

  2. I don’t know how things are done in Atlanta, but most auditions for American orchestras are done behind a screen so that there is no way for the audition committee can tell the race or gender of a given candidate.

  3. The percentage of any minority in an orchestra is only relevant if it is significantly different from the percentage of that minority applying for positions.

  4. The post, on a right-wing blog, is very exercised about the attempt to add racial diversity to anything. No surprise there. The hypocrisy in my view is to criticize the ASO for not having more black musicians while criticizing it for trying to add a more diverse choir to a particular program.

    Auditions for the orchestra are (as the 2nd comment above notes is the norm) held behind a screen. When one comes to the point at which a musician is ready to try out for a major orchestra, it is too late to worry about diversity. That is why the ASO, for a number of years, has worked to increase the number of young black and hispanic musicians going into music, through the Talent Development Program. This sort of effort likely drives the wing nuts at “The American Thinker” nuts…………and to hell with them. Starting back in the days of Robert Shaw’s Christmas programs in the 60s, the Morehouse College Glee Club has been an integral part. This continues today, and is a fine Atlanta tradition. The concert I attended a couple of weeks ago also included the Gwinnett Young Singers (mostly white if you’re keeping score, but not entirely) the ASO, and the fabulous (and fairly diverse) ASO Chorus.

  5. By the way, the VP of marketing referred to in the article is no longer with the ASO administration.

  6. The ASO has very good diversity, including Asian American, Hispanic Americans and women. Give the ASO and its management a break- they are trying to negotiate a very tough financial situation in a community and state that are much more inclined to support a new football stadium. The musicians have been very professional through this ordeal and they play wonderfully. Its time to move on from yesterday’s news.

  7. Yes, most all US orchestras hold auditions (at least early rounds) behind a screen–and some hold the entire audition (all rounds) behind a screen and, further, some orchestras do not even offer trials following the audition win. Exactly how are orchestras to increase diversity in the musician memberships, if auditions are usually “blind” and obviously one cannot make race a criteria for auditioning–nor should one seek to! In my experience, not even all minorities are COMING to auditions in the first place, despite aggressive recruitment. What say ye now?

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