The fight for equality in America has been long and hard-fought. Sometimes a multi-generational upheaval has been required to undo old notions and myths. But there have been a few times when a new process enabled these changes to happen almost overnight. In the world of classical music, no change was more consequential than the instituting of blind auditions, whereby the musician auditioning for a position is behind a screen, and the only thing a panel can adjudicate is the sound of music….
I am the principal cellist of American ICSOM Orchestra — the Louisville Orchestra, led by our brilliant young music director Teddy Abrams. I have taken countless auditions for other orchestras behind the screen. I have also served on and led audition committees. While the process certainly has its imperfections, I have seen just what a powerful bias-neutralizing force they can be.
In spring 2019, I led an audition for two spots in our cello section. Numerous people I know and love were among the applicants. Could I have been biased in favor of any of them? Of course. Did I have any idea who was who behind the screen? No. We ended up hiring two fantastic cellists, who happen to be female….
Read on here.