US orchestra appoints a Chief Diversity Officer

US orchestra appoints a Chief Diversity Officer


norman lebrecht

August 14, 2020

As part of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s (CSO) 10-point Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Action Plan,a job has been created for an executive to implement the policy.

‘The creation of an executive-level Chief Diversity Officer places the Cincinnati Symphony at the leading edge of change in the orchestra field,’ said Jesse Rosen, President and CEO of the League of American Orchestras. ‘Our research confirms that one of the biggest barriers to progress is the lack of staff capacity. This move by the CSO models the level of commitment it takes to bring about equitable, diverse and inclusive organizations.’


  • caranome says:

    When entire industry is facing existential crisis, this org. wastes money & effort on Diversity, Inclusion and Equity, or DIE. How appropriate, how stupid!

    • Former Arts Donor says:

      Several states have cut their own throats already between MAJOR loss of sales tax, permit and fee revenue not to mention the ENORMOUS property tax void they’ve created with failing businesses and fleeing residents.

      The arts will sadly fall into abandoned halls, auditoriums and school buildings in the coming years.

      So a Diversity Officer is gonna do what?!?!?!

      Such a CRIMINAL waste of money these people don’t have but will beg and demand donors and their daddy (the Federal government) to supplement.

      The ability to “fill” a house or auditorium is now MOOT with the rules, regulations, fines and jail time forced on LEGALLY operating businesses.

      Time to cut your own salaries, personnel and lavish spending habits or face ARREST!

      You’ll find the Health Departments and IRS enforcing these new EDICTS will care about only 2 colors…GREEN or RED and they are actively looking to make public examples of those not conforming. You folks are angry at Trump when you’ve got Democrat gangs hunting ya down?!?! LOL!!

  • CA says:


  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    Hopefully there will be an orchestra to diversify when this is all over.

  • John Chunch says:

    A wonderful decision.

  • Non-poc says:

    How is paying somebody to go around saying “you’ve got too many whites, Jews and Asians around” going to help their quality of sound?

    How many board members and administrative personnel that are “not colorful enough” stepping down as well?

    • violafan says:

      You do realize that there are jobs in orchestras that do other things than “help their quality of sound”, right?

      Or is that a new concept to you?

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Perhaps these orchestras are responding to enforced behaviours legislated by government. That is certainly the case in Australia where business and other entities are mandated to provide all these things. I’m told many of them tick the boxes but few have changed their age-old practices.

      That old maxim, “if it works for you keep doing it” is alive and well.

      • MWnyc says:

        No, Sue, that is not the case in the United States. There has been no legislation requiring the creation of Diversity-Equity-and-Inclusion positions.

        • Get Educated says:

          Affirmative Action

          …which is in itself DISCRIMINATORY!

          I know what your micro-mind will retort…how so?? (Whining and slack jawed)

  • V. Lind says:

    Well, if he is there to ensure that plenty “diverse” staff are taken on — one hopes as vacancies occur — and that “diverse” staff will be treated well by colleagues, one hopes a couple of things” that “diversity” does not exclude whites. Or is his job to replace ALL departing staff with minority candidates, even of others are the best? Will white staff be monitored as to how they treat minorities but not vice versa? Way to keep Trump in office forever.

    And is he to have anything to do with musical hiring, or will that actually be left to people who know something about orchestral music?

    I’d like to see his job description.

    • Former Democrat says:

      “Way to keep Trump in office forever.” what a beautiful thought Ms. Lind…

      Allowing the Left to (predictably) destroy themselves using their own neuroses never fails. Sadly, the DNC is just a violent, destructive hate group with no quantifiable policies that produce positive outcomes.

      Glad Blacks for Trump is growing.

    • simon van says:

      “he”? “his”? oh, no!!! I thought being born a man would be a natural disqualification for this kind of “diverse” position.

  • MacroV says:

    I’m sure we won’t have to wait long for the usual SD trolls ready to denounce anything “woke,” but orchestras do need to find ways to make themselves relevant to modern society, and to parts of the community for whom they haven’t generally been relevant. I have no idea what the position is intended to do, but there is definitely a need that could be filled.

    • V. Lind says:

      Is there?

      • Peter San Diego says:

        Absolutely: to attract a more diverse — and larger! — audience, for starters. There is plenty of superb music that is underperformed, some of it by composers of color; adding that into the programming mix could enliven the experience for all.

      • MacroV says:

        Yes. Get a more diverse audience. Everybody’s money is equally good, no matter the color of the person in the seat.

        • V. Lind says:

          I have absolutely no objection to works by black composers, nor to black artists or black staff. Never did. As long as they are the best hires. (New music — sure. Give it a chance and see if it flies. 99% of “white” new music evaporates after one unlovely performance, after all).

          But if black people’s equally good money is directed — by them — elsewhere, innit time white people just accepted it, rather than spending vast resources they can ill afford on a campaign of political correctness?

          It costs no more to hire a talented black artist or staffer than a white or Asian one, nor does it cost much — maybe some time diverted from work for occasional seminars reminding them to treat people fairly, from interview to workplace. It costs no more to take outreach programmes into black communities, if the are wanted there, than white ones.

          But “Diversity Officers”? Come on. That’s paying somebody a whacking amount of money to do something that only needs a sign on a noticeboard and a reminder of THE LAW. This is all more kow-towing to the never-ending, increasingly preposterous, demands of BLM.

    • Diverse is Dumbed Down says:

      Blacks can simply use their ObamaPhones to look up classical music (unless of course it is pre-programmed aka ENDLAVED to “RAP”).

      Poor blacks. Always having to rely on white folks somehow. Even Obama has as he is 51% white on his mother’s side and was thankfully raised by his white grandparents. Otherwise he would be another dead African drunk like his father.. Yes, he abandoned the family, drank a lot and returned to Africa…

      Too bad most black men don’t know how to be fathers as opposed to felons and most of the women are nothing but government breeders who still produce kids for checks.

      • MacroV says:

        Norman – Seriously, this is over-the-top racist. Do you moderate this forum or not? This brings your site into disgrace. As for the the seven people who gave it a thumbs-up…

        • DeDe Combs says:

          It’s historical fact.

          What are YOU going to do? Go to a black neighborhood in Chicago and educate them???

          You’re to afraid to go there at all. Send us a picture of you’re little outing but make out a will first. Facts!


      • Retired says:

        Yeah, this is the line for me. When more people give this hideous comment thumbs up than thumbs down, I’m out. Too many people in complete denial about systemic racism and their own culpability. No more Slipped Disc for me. Disgusting.

    • Greg says:

      I think that post-modern society needs to prove the relevance of its own totalitarian proscriptions. Besides, the performing arts are a meritocracy which the rest of society ought to emulate, and where points are not randomly assigned based on race, gender, or even age.

    • MacroV says:

      41 thumbs down (and counting) seems to be proving my point.

  • fflambeau says:

    Nice public relations move. But is it really necessary, or just a waste of money? All people in the orchestra should be committed to diversity. This might have the opposite effect.

    • “All people in the orchestra should be committed to diversity. ”

      Why should they? “Diversity” is just a code for White genocide.

      Why do you hate White people?

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      I would have thought they’d be committed to musicality. But you surely must see that the vast majority of the population finds such diktats hideous and will vote the most appalling individual into office just hoping to be rid of it. And you can call your fellow citizens appalling and ‘deplorable’ if that makes you feel better about yourself.

  • Leporello says:

    Soon to be followed by a Menu and Culinary Diversity Officer. Enough of that obsession with hot dogs and French fries! And as for Colonel Sanders – the Civil War has long gone!

  • Violafan says:

    Uh oh, slippedisc readers are going to be triggered by this…

    • True North says:

      You can tell how scared they are by the level of irrational nonsense they respond with. It works just like the Homeland Security Advisory System. Right now the threat level posed by this news story is ELEVATED: Significant Risk of Being Replaced by Diversity.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Of course! Especially in the land of the gun-happy USA. It’s the perfect metaphor.

  • Bone says:

    Thank goodness! More diversity will hopefully include the diversity of performance abilities within the ensemble!

  • Guest says:

    This is a bunch of …..Music corrupted by the politics of the day. They surely need a MeToo Officer. How about BLM Night at the Pops?

  • Tamino says:

    As Orwellian as it gets.
    Have minorities and underprivileged people been denied access to ticket sales or not been allowed to apply for orchestra jobs in the US until now?
    Or what are they trying to change?
    Maybe the wrong place to start at the top of the pyramid?
    You want more people from poor backgrounds to have education and money to participate in the field of classical music as both consumers and professionals?
    Maybe a political effort nationwide to change society toward the better. Pay better wages to workers? Higher taxes for the fat cats (was 90% in the 1950s)?
    Share productivity profits fairly?
    Strange country, the US.
    They collectively are losing a common sense of reality.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Sadly you speak truth. And, to add insult to injury, the gulls think the answer is to allow millions of more people in from Mexico!! That’s sure to increase everybody’s standard of living in the good old USA!! The Left is cylopian (one-eyed) and reactionary, and no mistake.

  • Franklin says:

    Yes, I’m sure they are just overflowing with money to create positions that make no sense.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      It heartens me to note that the majority who’ve contributed here have more than a lick of common sense. Perhaps they already realize why the USA got Trump. As the late father of Wynton Marsalis once said, “…sometimes ignorant pugilism is necessary”.

  • paul says:

    a multiracial trans or X identifier (experience in opera quite unnecessary but preferred) would be the first choice for this position

    • Non-Binary Brit says:

      I’m scheduled to “identify” as a black woman next week so I’m applying straightaway!

      I just went the Indian-Trans-Glockenspiel route last week and am quite exhausted.

      Shopping for some large, dark, sagging falsies to look more oppressed as we speak. Wish all of my facades luck!!!!

  • Nick says:

    How on earth is it possible to cut musicians’ salaries and to open a new salaried totally unneeded position?

  • AngloGerman says:

    I wonder who is paying for it, particularly given the current situation…

    Would be best to withdraw support from such nonsense.

  • Monty Greene says:

    In these times, they have money to throw away?

    Blind auditions by all means, but no woke shakedowns.

  • Rossiya says:

    Again I say it: USA can learn from Russia to deal with this BLM-terrorists. Police and military to take each “protestors” out and away!
    Then there is no interest for “diversity officer”. What is that!

    Fist and boot!!!!

  • Tam says:

    I always thought the title of “Chief Diversity Officer” had the same ring to it as some kind of nazi rank… like “Chief SS Officer”.

    I know that large universities/corporations have the funds to support this cringe worthy title of a position, but does the Cincinnati Orchestra really have them to spare? Especially now days?

    “Executive level Chief Diversity Officer”… Sure sounds important, like they have the vigilant eyes of a hawk, ready at the split-second to inflict that swift, cruel “justice”!

  • James Weiss says:

    Most US arts organizations have this useless position now. It’s ridiculous virtue signalling. Diversity should be a byproduct of good hiring, not the reason for the hire.

  • Tiredofitall says:

    Does the “Chief” in Chief Diversity Officer indicate there are other diversity officers under them? How many do they need?

    • V. Lind says:

      Ideally it would be like Departmental Whips, all reporting to the Chief Whip. One in every section, to make sure strings were as diverse as brass, etc. Don’t know what they would do about timpani or harp.

      Luckily not even Cincinnati can afford it. So rename the post Diversity Czar and they’re in business! And comfortable.

      • Tiredofitall says:

        Diversity Stasi…

        If this has been a concern of the CSO, what has the Executive Director been doing? The organization’s only answer is to pass off this reponsibility to a new hire? What did Trey Devey do for eight years in this respect?

        A little knee-jerky just before the new president starts in September. “OK guys, we’re covered!”

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Here’s the thing; in order for this garbage to fly you have to out-law satire and humour. Oh, wait….

      At least the British had Gilbert & Sullivan when the bourgeoisie became too self-important.

  • drummerman says:

    I applaud this effort but the only way to really achieve “diversity” is to interest more African-American youngsters to study classical music.

  • gmw says:

    He or she will probably be paid more than anyone except the concertmaster. Watch how quickly other US orchestras follow suit. In orchestras, as in higher education, there is no more powerful argument for doing something than that “peer” institutions are doing it, or, occasionally, not doing it.

  • Alank says:

    So the CSO is likely on the verge of bankruptcy and can pay its musicians their full salty but has money to hire a diversity officer. They do blind auditions so what are they going to do now? This is institutional suicide

  • anon says:

    These b*llsh*t administrative positions are what bleed cultural institutions dry…

  • Monsoon says:

    But what power will they actually have? Will they get a vote on hiring decisions for orchestra personnel? Repertoire? Wage and compensation decisions?

    Or are they just there to conduct DEI trainings?

  • Robert Freeman says:

    What are the responsibilities of this new officer to be?

  • Le Křenek du jour says:

    Put Out More Flags.

  • Cubs Fan says:

    Can’t wait to see the job description for this. The CSO does have a problem though. Cincinnati has a large Black population but when you go to concerts you’d think the whole city is White or Asian.

    • V. Lind says:

      As no-one is telling them to stay out — Trump does not work for the CSO — you have to ask why that is so. Generations who have had no music education, absence of classical music on TV and radio, are as much a part of this absence as the colour of staff or even artists.

      African-Americans have several rich musical traditions of their own. If they are less interested in classical music, aside from reasons offered in the last paragraph, it may be that their own music absorbs more of their time and entertainment budget.

      • Xavier Mendoza says:

        How is it that blacks have remained so utterly helpless and unable to function on their own?

      • Enjoy Trump’s Second Term Folks!! says:

        V. Lind, you are the real racist in attempting to constantly indoctrinate blacks to “come up” to your white way of thinking.

        Democrats have tried this for years and made welfare along with numerous other financial programs the easiest way of life for these poorly educated blacks. Having children out of wedlock gets them even more which is why you have 4th+ generations in the same cycle supposedly “struggling, oppressed and volatile”.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      A bit like a pop concert; the majority are under 25. You’d think the whole society was gullible and vapid. Oh, wait….

    • Michael Morrison says:

      What happens when you go to a rap or hip hop concert? What does the whole city look like then?

  • jack says:

    Music Hall (the home of the Cincinnati Orchestra) sits in the “Over The Rhine” area of the city. Decades ago, you risked your life going to Music Hall because of the demographics of the area. Since then gentrification of the area has taken place, and there is no longer the fear of risk for the classical music crowd going to that neighborhood. Music Hall is a marvelous venue; but full disclosure, I have not been there since the renovation. In the old days there were requests (not “demands” in those days) made by the neighborhood residents regarding Music Hall. These were rebuffed and dismissed by the city administration. Now the Orchestra is making overtures in the form of “diversity” to a demographic that no longer occupies their immediate environs. Here is my deduction from all of this: you do not want to call for diversity in decision making when the “diverse” that may actually be affected by those decisions are not the ones that you can count on or approve or who don’t share your outlook. Call for diversity when you are safe from interference by those who are really “diverse” with regard to your enterprise. This seems to me to be a common denominator to the current “wokeness” in the classical arts, issue encomiums to those who don’t or can’t threaten you and and try to play up your “concern” in an environment that is no longer a challenge to you. (If you doubt this, recall that that there was no substantial attempt to include “diversity” in the decisions to create Lincoln Center.)

  • Rob says:

    These “Diversity Officers” have managed to guilt people into viewing themselves as racist in order to secure lucrative positions across the corporate world. The top dog in this field, Robin DiAngelo, has literally become a multi-millionaire. You have to respect the hustle! Unfortunately and ironically, what they are doing creates more racism.

  • Alexander Graham Cracker says:

    Will CSO’s Asian musicians be on the chopping block? “As of the official 2010 census, the racial demographics for the city of Cincinnati were: 49.3% white (48.1% non-Hispanic white), 44.8% black or African-American, 0.3% American Indian or Alaskan Native, 1.8% Asian, 0.1% Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 2.5% two or more races, and 2.8% Hispanic (of any race).”

  • James Sundercruft says:

    It’s about time. I think we will see all orchestras go this route. Orchestras of the future will be safe spaces for LGBTQ2+ individuals. Thanks for this, Norman.

    • Nodique Novaj-Neva says:

      I suggest a cancellation of ‘James Sundercruft’ for omitting the A from LGBTQ2+, I have been personally assaulted by this heinous and insensitive act.

      • Tiredofitall says:

        If you want to be precise (I don’t): LGBTTQQIAAP

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        I’ve personally been triggered and offended and I want somebody to pay for this!! Where is my comfort dog, or quiet room? (They used to call these ‘padded cells’!!!)

        You just have to laugh at this stuff; it’s beyond risible. The one group capable of doing this – “Little Britain” – has been conveniently cancelled.

    • 39-year vet says:

      If you think that orchestras are not CURRENTLY “safe spaces” for at least LGB individuals, then you have never been backstage, nor do you know many orchestra musicians.

  • Karl says:

    Chief Diversity Officers are nothing but dispensable tokens. They are just the scapegoats who can take the fall when the diversity goal is not reached.

  • Wise Guy says:

    Jesse Rosen needs to go away and take his Democrat Party talking points with him. Jesse knows very well what the issue is with the fake problem they are calling a lack of “diversity”; Not all that many blacks pick up orchestral instruments to begin with. That suddenly top orchestras should have quotas of 13% black musicians, and its a racist hate crime if they don’t, is a figment of the radical statistical imagination. These Chief Diversity Officers (and DEI consultants) are BS vendors, rent-seekers who get paid handsomely (if they don’t, its racism!) to bully people in to doing something that wouldn’t have happened naturally through just hiring the best people as a matter of course that all organizations attempt. Notice, Jesse and his SJWs don’t voice objection to a lack of diversity in small and even community orchestras where orchestral players get their experience so they can join the ranks of better groups. No, let’s start with the top-paid, world-class jobs and work from there.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Agree. You’ll find that and everything more you need to know in any of the writings of Dr. Thomas Sowell. But, as the good doctor says, “the Left doesn’t like facts because they find them emotionally unsatisfying”.

      Coming from a black man!! What heresy!! Those snappy black dudes and girls in the expensive Italian suits in Washington and NYC – what do they say about all this diversity rubbish?

  • Blimpa Doof says:

    About time, bravo CSO! This is the type of change we need to see in the elitist and WASP-dominated orchestra industry. I for one cannot wait for more diverse-looking orchestras, and I know they will sound just as good.

  • Misterioso says:

    Boycott Cincinnati orchestra then! The only way to cure their stupidity

  • James Weiss says:

    If you want a horrid example of how this works go to the website of The Phillips Collections, one of the world’s great museum.

    The first thing you’ll see is a message from Chief Diversity Officer Makeba Clay. You will not read anything more nonsensical in your life. “Our board is overwhelmingly white. Microagressions are a reality for our staff of collar.” Blah blah blah.

    I say to my students I’ll be happy to teach black artists but you find me a black Vermeer, a black Shakespeare, a black Hitchcock. I can’t change history. I have to teach what’s there.

  • marcus says:

    More woke bingo. Everyday really is a school day, more’s the pity.

  • Horseshoe says:

    These changes can’t come fast enough. I guarantee you the people pushing this are mostly white liberals, since blacks and Hispanics don’t care about Classical music. The funny part is that, once they start hiring more diverse people, those people are going to hire mostly other minorities while whites and their progeny get pushed out of jobs. The sooner these orchestras start playing exclusively orchestral renditions of Beyonce songs and the sooner Classical music dies in the US, the faster whites will wake up to the plague that they have brought upon themselves.

  • Anton “Too Long” Bruckner says:

    Symphony orchestras are probably the most diverse organizations in the world.

    What part of the world is not represented?

    Meritocracy has always been the rule. Anyone can audition and auditioning is done behind a screen.

    The NBA isn’t diverse. They seem to be doing fine…because it’s based on talent.

    Also, anyone is free to buy a ticket. Probably grant money is involved.

  • jack says:

    I have noticed that the “diversity” being championed by the crowd that promotes “diversity” does not include a variety of opinions and actively attempts to exclude certain “divergent” perspectives.

  • Anton “Too Long” Bruckner says:

    Symphony orchestras are probably the most diverse organizations in existence.
    What part of the world is not represented in an orchestra?

    Meritocracy has always been the rule. Anyone can audition and auditions are done behind a screen.

    The NBA, NFL, etc. are not diverse and they seem to be doing fine. They are built on talent and skill. Also, everyone is welcomed to buy a ticket to a concert.

    This is probably motivated by grant money.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Any gravy train passenger!!

  • MacroV says:

    Interesting that lots of people are bashing the orchestra here, but nobody (including me) actually knows what this person is going to do. Maybe the Cincinnati SO could favor the SD-erati with a position description?

    • V. Lind says:

      Maybe that has yet to be determined…sort of cart before the horse. Let’s face it, this is a made-up job to be a sop to the mouthy bastards of BLM who have been issuing increasingly nutso demands from Stanford to Oberlin. The poor sod who takes this on will have to try to make a good fist of taking demands such as lower entrance standards seriously.

      Maybe some of the SD community could venture to offer a job description for this absurd role. I’m sure most of the regulars here are fairly well read and will be familiar with classics such as 1984. (And Politics and the English Language).

      • MacroV says:

        This is absurd. BLM of course couldn’t care less about the Cincinnati SO. Who said anything about lower entrance standards?

        Just from a marketing standpoint, it makes sense for an orchestra to expand its audience and constituency, and make more of the community feel invested in the orchestra. And there is an artistic rationale, too, if an orchestra is going to be a living, music-making institution. The Berlin Philharmonic education project would probably qualify as a “diversity” activity, and no artistic standards have been compromised in the process.

        • jack says:

          “Just from a marketing standpoint, it makes sense for an orchestra to expand its audience and constituency, and make more of the community feel invested in the orchestra.” This is absolutely correct. The “diversity” ploy is nothing more than a marketing effort. But it is not aimed at a diverse demographic. It is aimed at the core constituency of the orchestra, a demographic composed of mostly white and reasonably economically secure people who have adopted a concern for the less advantaged. And they have adopted this concern not out of some moral sensibility, but out of the realistic appreciation that if they don’t get themselves in line for showing some affinity for those who otherwise have no use for them, when push comes to shove it is they who will be left behind.

          • Bruce says:

            OK. That’s fine. If someone does the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, vs. doing it from fear of punishment, doesn’t make any difference. Sometimes both can be true — e.g. I might obey speed limits and use my turn signals because it’s the right thing to do (being a law-abiding citizen), it’s safer (a liability issue), or because I don’t want to get a ticket (fear of punishment), or some combination thereof. I don’t think anybody much cares why I’m doing it.

  • Mars says:

    How is choosing the most talented musician (who is behind a screen) racist, sexist, or xenophobic? Orchestras are losing their minds.

    • MacroV says:

      Nobody has remotely suggested that hiring this person will lead to a change of audition/selection processes. This is almost surely a matter of how the administration operates or interacts with the community.

  • Playtee Ayewizmi says:

    About time! I am a long time believer in more colours in orchestras…visually and otherwise!!!

  • Dennis says:

    Placing grifters in bloated bureaucratic sinecures is what BLM, and “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” ideology is all about.