A telling article by Tim Smith in the Baltimore Sun focusses on the imminent annual get-together in his town of the ever-unchanging League of American Orchestras. The headline reads: ‘In Baltimore, the largely white orchestra world talks diversity’.
About 1,000 participants — orchestra administrators, musicians, board members — will fill meeting spaces in an Inner Harbor hotel to explore various aspects of a theme billed as the “The Richness of Difference.”
“This is the first time we’ve made diversity an overarching theme, the focal point of our conference,” said Jesse Rosen, president and CEO of the league, a service organization with about 700 member orchestras. “We thought it was the right time. We want to focus our members’ attention on the importance of the issue so they go back to their communities and have the kinds of conversations they need to have about diversity.”
Matters to be addressed at the conference, hosted by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, include the slow pace of changing demographics inside orchestras — 1.8 percent of musicians in league orchestras are African-American, about the same percentage as a decade ago; 85.8 percent are white — and ways to improve that.
Read on here.
I came away from last year’s LAO conference struck by the forced smiles of wilful denial.